Mitch Gaines 2023 deer

First buck killed November 9th, 9 point with smokeless 40cal muzzleloader, out of my box stand in the backyard before work, in my PJ’s! Night before around 11PM, I took our Goldendoodle, Faith, out to potty before bed. In the back floodlights, we had 3 does spook off when we walked out back door at garage. Then I heard what was something running through the field in my back yard, which then led to two bucks fighting. I actually was able to record the sound, the best fight I’ve heard in 34 years of hunting NC. You could tell, it was two larger bucks due to sound (a lot of tines and heavy mass). I decided to slip into my boxstand the next morning before work, in hopes to get a glimpse at one of the fighting bucks. Right at day break, I heard a buck grunting at the bottom of the field, coming down the woodline. I made the 200 yard shot, dropping him there with the smokeless muzzleloader, 40 Cal. I capped the deer out and had the meat in the cooler, making it to my 915 meeting! Never any corn out, never on a trail camera.

The 2nd buck is an 8 point, killed 11/13 in the evening with my 270. The night before, my Wife and I was coming back from Siler City and was coming through downtown Goldston around 8PM. At the bottom of the hill on Colonial Avenue, was a really nice 8 point tending a doe, it then went into a small block of woods. Knowing that my parents land is only 1/2 mile from that spot off Goldston Glendon Road, I decided to give a hunt the next evening after work. That afternoon, I got parked around 430PM and found a spot on the woodline to sit. I’ve never had corn here, no camera, no stand, first hunt there (ever). Minutes after getting setup, I had 8 does, a spike buck and a 7 point checking the does at the bottom of the field. They worked their way around the draw, and actually managed to get between me and the road in another draw, about 150 yards away. I kept watching, and noticed the does started running around, knowing something was checking them, I presumed it was the two smaller bucks again. To my surprise, the 8 point popped up over the hill like a picture standing there in the one area I couldn’t shoot (towards the road and houses – safety first). He then turned and went back to chasing the does, to my fortune he pushed the does back around towards other side of field back into that draw. I was able to crawl out to top of the hill overlooking the draw to get a shot at the buck off my knee, he ran 150 yards and folded up. Once I got to him, I realized I am pretty certain it was the deer we saw the night before!

In summary, two of my better bucks in a 5 day span. No corn, no cameras, one in my PJ’s, one in my work clothes with coveralls.

Some call it luck; I call it preparation and opportunity with a little favor!

–Mitch Gaines; Goldston, NC


Bag A Buck Contest

Congratulations to Gaines, who is now in the running for our monthly prize of a free 1-year subscription to Carolina Sportsman Magazine, a Mini Maglite, an 18-ounce Yeti Rambler, a two-pack of Lowcountry Seasonings, as well as our Grand Prize, which includes a 3-year-subscription to Carolina Sportsman Magazine, a 2-day two-person hunt at Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge in Chesterfield, SC, and other prizes to be determined.

See all the bucks entered so far, and upload yours at, or email photo and detailed info to

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