Let ‘em go so they can grow

Jones County

Jones County

Jones County buck green-scored 153+ inches

Sergio Duarte killed a Jones County, NC trophy buck on Nov. 29, 2022 after observing the deer for 3 years.

The 11-point buck was a sporadic trail-cam visitor over the past few years on Duarte’s hunting land. During the 2021 season, the hunter estimated the buck at 135 inches and decided to let the deer walk, hoping it would pack on the inches this season. It was a risky plan, but it worked.

“I passed this deer up last year as a 4 1/2-year-old, and he was easy 135 inches. But I passed in hopes of him getting bigger. It was a really big gamble, considering the county I hunt in. But you can’t kill 150-class deer if you kill them when they’re 130,” he said.

As this season moved into late November, Duarte had seen no sign of the deer. He began to think the buck didn’t make it to this year. But a change to his trail cam location helped him discover that it was still around and doing just fine.

“When this season came around, I got nothing. No pictures. Nothing. So at Thanksgiving, I moved my camera to look over where I thought this buck might be bedding,” he said.

The plan worked

His first 2022 photo of the buck came just 4 hours later. And for the next several days, it showed the buck bedding down around 7:38 p.m., and staying put until 6:50 a.m. Duarte knew what he needed to do.

“I knew I’d have to morning hunt. So the morning of Nov. 29, I got in the stand. And about 6:45, I could see him bedded down in the path. Around 7:15, he stood up,” he said.

Duarte pulled the trigger from a 150 yards away.

“I dropped him, tagged out, and happy I can sleep in now,” he said.

Duarte had two trophy bucks scored last year at the Dixie Deer Classic. Both of those were also from Jones County. He prides himself on doing what he can to kill larger deer.

“I get a lot of flack for killing big deer year after year in a county where many hunters shoot everything and wonder why they don’t see or kill big deer,” he said.

He stressed that it’s all about letting them go so they can grow.

“I’m proving we have the deer and the genetics. We just need to do better at deer management in this county. If you’re not trophy hunting, by all means shoot what you like. But don’t hate on people that are, and that are putting in the work, just because you aren’t seeing big deer,” he said.

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Bag-A-Buck

Congratulations to Duarte, 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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