350-yard shot nets 131-inch trophy buck for N.C. hunter

Ronnie Howard of Union Grove, N.C. shot this wide-racked buck from 350 yards away in Iredell County on Nov. 16, 2017.

Hunter was using custom built muzzleloader

With only one hour to hunt on Nov. 16, Ronnie Howard of Union Grove, N.C. cracked off the perfect kill shot on a 131-inch Iredell County trophy 7-point buck. The big deer sported 11-inch G2’s, 5-inch bases, and a whopping 23-inch inside spread.

Howard shot the deer at 350 yards with his custom-built .45-caliber muzzleloader constructed specifically for bringing down his targets at long range.

It all started back in 2010 where Howard decided to make a significant change in his hunting style. He ordered a collaboration of gun parts that were later assembled to make his own custom muzzleloader. He then ordered Parker Production bullets from Idaho that were capable of making long shots.

Howard’s love for hunting would be enough fuel to make it worthwhile even though he only had one hour to hunt that morning. He needed to be at his 88-year-old mother’s house by 8 a.m. to help her with the morning duties.

Howard was hunting in a large box stand overlooking a large 75-yard wide transmission corridor that was 975 yards long and covered in grown up vegetation on one side and bush hogged on the other.

Howard got situated in the stand minutes before the action started. Since this is one of his long range opportunity stands, he has a cantilevered shooting bench built into the stand fully furnished with sand bags.

Shortly after he got settled, he saw a doe in the thick brush at 350 yards away and then something else caught his eye.

“I saw something white shining and I knew it was a good buck pretty quick even though he was in the thick stuff,” Howard said. “I thought it was just a big six and I quickly decided to let him go for one of my sons to shoot on another day.”

Then, the deer walked into an area where Howard could see a little clearer.

“I saw some mass and I could tell that he was wider than most of our bucks in this area. Then, he got away from me and I started to panic,” he said.

Luckily, the doe showed up on the other side of the power line and it didn’t take long for the buck to show back up. The buck was mostly hidden in the thick brush, but left just enough of his vital area available for Howard to take a shot.

“I could see his head, neck, and three inches of his brisket. It was a standoff at that point,” Howard said.

But, Howard felt good about the shot. He chose the brisket and let loose the 270-grain bullet.  The deer ran off into the thick woods and vanished. Without too much time to spare, Howard climbed down at 7:30 a.m. and started looking for his deer. At first, he didn’t find any blood or hair. Then he made a circle through the thicket, finding the buck 20 yards from where he last saw it.

“I usually experience ground shrinkage, but this time, it was the opposite. He was 30 percent bigger than I thought he was. He had mass, width, and was just a tremendous deer,” Howard said.

Howard had never seen this deer before on his hunting property, but he sure was glad this deer decided to make a visit to his stand that morning.

“I never would have believed that a deer of this caliber would show up on our land. I give all the honor, praise, and glory to the one that made this all possible,” he said.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.