Chatham County buck is trophy for female crossbow hunter

Heather Horton's 129-inch Chatham County buck had a 6 1/2-inch drop tine and was still in full velvet when she killed it on the opening day of archery season.

A hot, humid day and an approaching storm with high winds didn’t deter Heather Horton from completing a memorable hunt on the first day of bow season in Chatham County this past Saturday.

What made it memorable? How about a 9-point buck with a 6 1/2-inch drop tine, its antlers still in full velvet?

Heather and her husband, Aaron, started scouting a farm in early August, setting trail cameras on bait sites. Over a 19-day period, one particular buck made appearances on a nearly clockwork basis during daylight hours and had promoted himself to the top of the hit list.

“For 19 days in a row this deer came out between 3:30 and dark,” Aaron stated.

Aaron and Heather climbed their Gorilla tree stands at 2:30 that afternoon in anticipation of spotting the large buck. Heather was about 30 feet off the ground, with Aaron just below her on the same tree, hoping to film the hunt.

Things started out well enough, as several deer came out early to graze in the field.  Then, around 5:30, thunder started sounding in the distance, and the tree began to sway in the wind.

“I looked up at Heather and asked if she was ready to call it a day. I didn’t want to risk anything with the storm coming,” Aaron said.

But just at that moment, two does and two fawns walked into the area. A few minutes later, three more does appeared as well.

“I saw them looking over to their left,” Heather said, and following their gaze, she watched three bucks work their way into the area: a small 6-pointer, a strange-looking 7-pointer and a small 8-pointer, in increments of two or three minutes. Finally, the target buck made an appearance; Heather steadied her Barnett Ghost crossbow and settled the sight on the buck just 18 yards away.

“I wasn’t nervous about the buck. I was more worried about hitting the deer in the right spot,” she said.

After squeezing the trigger, she didn’t have to wait long to determine if she had found the mark; Aaron was excited, high-fiving his wife from below. He made his way down the tree first, with his wife in tow.

The deer had only gone about 30 yards before going down.

“She walked right over to it and grabbed the horns,” said Aaron, who described Heather as excited, not nervous as she was around other game she’d taken. “She wasn’t worried about touching the deer or the blood.”

Heather has taken several deer in the past four years of hunting, but this is her first with a crossbow and only her second buck. Of the four bucks that came out that day, only the big drop tine buck was still in velvet.

Aaron put a tape measure on the buck, which carried a rack that measured around 129 inches gross. It had a 16 ¼-inch inside spread and tines that measured as long as 8 ½ inches.

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