Very few hunters ever see a deer almost a decade old
What makes a buck most memorable to a hunter? Is it best measured in inches, pounds, or history? For Jonathan Phillips of Pittsboro, NC — a hunter with his fair share of wall hangers — a 9 1/2-year-old buck is hard to beat. It took years to produce a daylight sighting, but Philips bagged the 137 5/8-inch Chatham County 8-point he called “Legend” on Sept. 8th.
Phillips’ history with Legend began in the fall of 2014 when he began hunting a 30-acre property outside of Pittsboro. After letting a few buddies also sit the property, he listened to what he thought were tall tales of a super tall-racked buck that had given them the slip. Fast forward two years, and Phillips found the “tall tale” buck was showing up on his trail camera. And his wasn’t the only one.
“In 2017, I became friends with a fellow bowhunter named Jim Crissman whose property was close to mine,” said Phillips. “He had several years of trail cam pictures of Legend. But the deer just wouldn’t show up in the daylight. As we began talking about Legend, I learned that he had been passed on about three years earlier by another hunter at what he believed to be 3 1⁄2-years-old.”
If the “on the hoof” age analysis is correct, that makes Legend 9 1⁄2-years-old in the fall of 2019. The buck had been trading between their properties for nearly a decade. But much to Phillips’ good fortune, it had recently taken a stronger liking to his.
Hunter recovered deer’s matching antler sheds
Phillips recovered the buck’s 2018 matching sheds in February. Then he put out some homemade mineral and stayed off the property until mid-July. At that point, he returned to put out corn and a camera.
Phillips pulled the card about a week before the opening of bow season and found Legend highly visible during daylight hours. But, a second card pull on Sept. 6 showed him in daylight hours only once. Phillips sat the evening of the 7th in his ground blind without a sighting. He returned on the 8th at 5:25 p.m.
“At 7:05 p.m., I looked to my right and a really nice 8-point — probably 130 inches — entered the corn,” said Phillips. “He fed for a few min and then an 11-point in the low 140s joined him. These two bucks I was familiar with as Legend’s summertime bachelor buddies. They fed for a few more minutes and began acting fidgety.
Here comes Legend
“I looked to my right again and there Legend stands in full velvet in the hackberry bushes at approximately 18 yards. He surveys the area for what felt like an eternity. Then he just came walking into 12 yards and began feeding. I reached for my Hoyt Carbon Defiant and when he appeared to be completely broadside, I came to full draw, anchored my 20 yd pin low behind his shoulder, and began to squeeze. I heard the 100-grain Rage Trypan broadhead impact as Legend kicked high and ran into the nearby thick cover.”
The deer fell 40 yards away from where he was arrowed. The buck carried an inside spread of 14 2/8 inches. The G2 stretched 8 inches. The base circumferences measured 6 and 6 5/8 inches. Legend’s rack rose 28 inches high.
Click here to read about a Reidsville, N.C. bowhunter who killed the “Chiquita” buck.