Edneyville hunter kills Polk County trophy buck

Polk County trophy buck
Kyle Owenby of Edneyville, N.C. killed this Polk County trophy on Dec. 12, 2019.

He killed it in a tough part of the state to find trophies

Kyle Owenby, a pipe-fitting contractor from Edneyville, kept on the trail of a Polk County trophy buck for 2 1/2 seasons, finally dropping him Dec. 12, 2019. And as most Tar Heel State hunters know, it’s tough to find a more difficult spot for trophy bucks than Polk County.

The 5×5 typical’s 10-point rack totaled 155 4/8 Boone-and-Crockett inches with a body weight of 187.2 pounds.

“I come from country people who love and respect nature,” Owenby said. “We don’t hunt for glory but for fellowship and good eating.”

The western corner of the state, with rugged, rocky hills and lowland valleys, lacks much arable land and acorn crops are sporadic, especially at Henderson County. So are whitetails.

The N.C. Wildlife Commission’s 2018 deer survey showed only 1.38 bucks per square mile, one of the state’s lowest (in 1993 it was nearly the same, 1.31).

So Owenby turned next door to Polk County, where his family owned farm land.

Food plots were a big help

“We plant a lot of standing corn and food plots — soybeans early, then rye, peas and turnips for winter,” he said. “I had (a buck’s photo) on trail cameras the last three years. The first time (2018) I saw him with antlers made me go for him.”

However, days spent in sunshine, rain and snow never earned Owenby, 33, an eyeball look at the buck.

“This year (his rack and body) doubled in size,” he said.

By 2019 he’d patterned the local herd’s travel routes. His first stand was at a ridge-top gap between a bedding area and a food plot sweetened with corn and apples.

“I had to move (the stand) because deer were coming behind and winding me,” said Owenby, who carried a 300 Winchester Magnum built by local gunsmith Bob McNeely.  “When I moved (locations), I put the stand 45-feet up in a white pine.”

With the mountain rut active in December, the old giant met his doom chasing a hot doe. Previously a pair of females visited a food plot to eat shell corn, plus apples from an orchard maintained by Owenby’s father.

A hot doe helped seal the deal

“I think he stuck around because one of the does was fixin’ to come in heat,” he said.

On Dec. 12 at 5:18 p.m. with about 12 minutes of shooting light left, Owenby “heard a doe running down the hollow then saw her with her tail stuck straight out.”

The buck trailed by 60 or 70 yards. Then she “busted out of the thick stuff at 45 yards,” he said.

“She ran back up the hill, but the buck came straight toward me and stopped behind a tree.”

 The buck faced away from Owenby the next time he saw it.

“But there was a little hole (in the limbs),” he said. “He turned his neck, and I put the (crosshairs of a  Leupold scope) about 3 inches under his spine and knocked him down.”

Just to be extra sure, the hunter put another bullet in the buck.

“I didn’t do anything special,” Owenby said. “I just put the work and time in and all my praises go to my dad and the good Lord.”

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

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