Taxidermist gets his shot at a big buck
Mount Tirzah, N.C. taxidermist Curtis Vaughn of Curtis’ Taxidermy spends a lot of time preparing mounts of game animals, predominantly whitetail bucks. It’s not often he gets a chance to hunt, but he got out of the office on Nov. 13 and killed a Person County buck that’s been gross green-scored at a whopping 174 1/8 inches.
The 17-point buck had double brow tines, and Vaughn dropped to his knees when he put his hands on the deer’s antlers.
“I dropped to me knees and thanked God,” the Rougemont native said. “But I also have to give credit to my buddy Tim Blalock. I was hunting on his property. I was working late, and we’d agreed to hunt that day. But I was 30 minutes late. So I hustled out and got there at 3 p.m. I didn’t want to mess up his hunt. But he told me not to worry about it.”
Vaughn was sitting in a tree stand 25 feet off the ground in a white oak next to a young clear cut. He saw the buck headed toward him from 180 yards. And with all that time to get ready, Murphy’s Law — if something can go wrong, it usually will — took effect.
“I’d ranged a spot at 110 yards where I thought he might turn into the woods,” he said. “I’d clicked my rangefinder until it was set. But he turned left and started walking straight toward me. So I cocked the muzzleloader.”
Vaughn was using a CVA Optima .50-caliber inline gun with a Konus Pro scope on top, an early Christmas present from his wife a couple of weeks before muzzleloader season began.
Hunter keeps his cool in a bad situation
“Something made me look down, and I didn’t have a percussion cap (in front of the breech cover),” he said.
He fumbled around in his backpack as the best buck he’d ever seen on the hoof steadily marched toward him.
“I had to tear the bag apart to ge the little container holding the caps. I finally got one, put it in place, and closed the gun.”
By now, the buck was 50 yards out and coming on steadily until it was 25 yards, hidden in a little ravine and behind a tree and bush.
“But when he popped out, he stopped. I think he looked at me,” he said.
The deer’s angle presented a quartering shot.
“I pulled the trigger and he took off, then stopped about 30 yards away and looked around as if nothing had happened,” he said.
Vaughn, thinking he might have missed the buck, dug in his backpack for more powder and another sabot bullet.
“While I was fumbling around, he fell over,” the hunter said.
The projectile had entered at the top of the right shoulder, angled down, and exited at the buck’s left rib.
Buck’s nickname came from his absence on trail cameras
“Tim had named him ‘The Ghost,’” Vaughn said. “He’d put trail cameras in the area for four or five years, but had no pictures of this deer. He had one picture of a 10-pointer a couple of years earlier, and thought it might be the same deer. But he wasn’t sure.”
With very few rubs and scrapes in the area, Vaughn thinks the deer was just passing through.
The rack’s right and left main beams, respectively, totaled 22 7/8 and 21 7/8 inches. The G1 tines taped 3 0/8 inches and 3 6/8 inches. The G2s were 10 6/8 inches and 11 2/8 inches. The G3 measured 10 2/8 and 9 7/8 inches, and the G4s taped out at 6 7/8 and 6 2/8 inches.The circumference measurements are as follows: H1, 5 2/8 and 5 1/8 inches. H2, 4 3/8 and 4 1/8 inches. H3, 4 1/8 and 4 6/8 inches. H4, 4 0/8 and 4 0/8 inches.
The abmnormal points included 1 6/8, 1 2/8, 2 3/8, 3 7/8, 3 3/8, 3 7/8, 3 7/8, 3 3/8, 1 2/8, and 1 2/8 inches.
Vaughn looks forward to getting through the 60-day rack drying period so he can have his buck officially scored and see how close it holds up to the green score.