Durham County hunter downs second trophy of 2022 season


JT Coley’s second trophy of 2022 green-scored 161+ inches

Just a few weeks after killing a giant Durham County, NC buck, JT Coley bagged an even bigger trophy on Oct. 1, 2022. The buck was gross green-scored at 161 7/8 inches. Coley shot the buck with a Ravin crossbow from a box blind about 20 feet off the ground.

He first noticed this buck during the 2020 season after he’d already tagged out for the year.

“I tagged out for 2020, then he showed up a week and a half later. He was just a big, gnarly deer. I knew he was 5 1/2 to 6 1/2-years-old in that picture. He was just towering over every other deer in the pictures,” he said. “In 2020 and 2021, he always showed up at the same stand, where a pine thicket met a white oak ridge.”

Leading up to the 2021 season, the buck showed up regularly on Coley’s trail cameras. But on opening day, it was a no-show. It reappeared another two days that season, then disappeared again.

Once the 2021 season was over, Coley cleared an acre of that pine thicket and planted it in clover. The clover came in for the spring, and Coley kept the site mowed and maintained from April through late September. He added a mineral block and a salt lick to the site, which also had some decades-old apple trees mixed in.

Leading up to the 2022 season, the buck showed up on trail cameras starting in June. Coley’s cameras sent photos directly to his cell phone, allowing him to stay clear of the site except when he went in to mow.

Coley shot the buck from 42 yards away

As the season came in, the buck stopped visiting, only to show up again in daylight photos during late September, about a week before Coley shot it. He caught sight of the buck during two hunts that week. He didn’t have a clear shot the first time. The second time, it was past legal shooting light when the deer showed up.

“Even just looking at him through my binoculars after shooting time, it was an incredible thing to see. I realized he was a lot bigger than I thought,” he said.

Then on Oct. 1, Coley was back in the stand that morning until the winds shifted unfavorably. He left, but came back that afternoon. He saw a lot of deer activity, as about 25 deer were feeding heavily following a hurricane that had come through. After a while, those deer left. By 6:15, they were all gone.

“Then about 6:45, he came in. I shot at him at 42 yards,” he said. “Then he ran about 75 yards, and I didn’t see him fall or hear him fall.”

Coley called his parents and a buddy, who met him at the hunting site.

“I knew I’d hit him, but I didn’t know how well. I found the arrow, which had some blood on it, but not much. And that was disheartening,” he said.

After finding a little more blood along with chunks of flesh, Coley thought he’d pierced the deer’s liver. He backed out, waited an hour or so, then went back in looking with his search party. Ten yards from where he’d last searched, they found an enormous amount of blood, which led them to the deer.

“He had the most mass of any North Carolina whitetail I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The buck weighed 218 pounds. As photos of the deer made their rounds on social media, Coley received a message from another hunter with photos of the same deer, 8 miles away during the 2019 season.

Coley plans to take this deer, along with the one he shot earlier this season, to the 2023 Dixie Deer Classic for official scoring.


Bag A Buck

Congratulations to Coley, who is now entered in our Bag-A-Buck Contest and in the running for these monthly prizes and the Grand Prize package:

Monthly winners will receive:

The Grand Prize winner will receive:

You can be in the running for these prizes too by sharing your story and photo in our Bag-A-Buck gallery.

About Brian Cope 2708 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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