Hunter first saw the deer on camera in September
On Nov. 3 while hunting on private land in Harnett County, N.C., Josh Kelly of Broadway, N.C. killed a giant buck he’d seen on camera only once earlier this season. With an inside spread of 22 inches, the rack is curved downward at the tips, making for a unique trophy.
The buck has been green scored at 156 inches gross, and 145 5/8 net.
The hunt for this buck actually started months earlier. On Sept. 23, Kelly was checking one of his trail cameras when he saw six photos of the deer, from all different angles. He was astonished at what he saw.
“I was in disbelief. This big boy showed up out of nowhere,” said Kelly.
He began hunting this deer hard, but it never showed up on camera again, and he never laid eyes on it from the stand. But each time, his hunting day ended with no joy.
“I hunted this area hard and would go days and days without seeing even a doe. And I continued checking my camera, hoping to at least get another picture of him for reassurance that he was still around. But he never came back. And then on Nov. 3, everything changed,” he said.
Kelly headed to the woods for an afternoon hunt, arriving at his climbing stand around 3:30 p.m. He was about 200 yards from the camera that had captured the deer months earlier.
Kelly breaks out a bag of tricks to entice the buck into showing itself
“I was just waiting, overlooking a bottom in a cutover. I sprayed a little bit of Buck Bomb out, not knowing if the bucks were actually rutting or not. About 5 p.m., I started hearing something to my left in the woods. It sounded too heavy to be a squirrel. I hit the grunt call a few times, then waited about 10 minutes. Nothing,” he said.
Kelly decided to try another trick — one that has never worked for him in the past.
“I grabbed my estrus deer bleat can. This can has never worked for me before. But I tried it anyway. Before I could even put the can back in my bag, I heard the noise again. I looked up and there he was. He was 50 yards away, right on the other side of a big bush,” he said.
Kelly watched the buck walk in at about 20 yards. He shot it with his Thomspon Center Compass in 6.5 Creedmoor. The deer ran about 30 yards, then fell down kicking.
The deer was nicknamed Diablo due to its unique rack
“He was trying to get back up. I shot again, and it was over. I sat there in awe. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately called my wife and told her I shot him. I shot “The Buck.” It was an amazing hunt. It’s been an amazing year. I got married this year, have a baby on the way, and topped it off with my biggest deer to date. I dubbed him Diablo due to the uniqueness of the downward curve on his main beams,” he said.
Leon Godfrey of Olivia Taxidermy is creating a mount to help Kelly commemorate the hunt.
Kelly entered his buck in the CarolinaSportsman.com Bag-A-Buck contest. Click here to see all the entrants.