Buck’s rack measured 155 4/8 inches net
True trophy white-tail hunters are easy to find in North Carolina — they don’t have a lot of 160-inches-or-more mounted racks, which seems counter-intuitive.
It’s not because they’re bad hunters or awful shots, but the Tar Heel state (a) actually doesn’t have truckloads of swamp donkeys and (b) those hunters are picky.
Eric League of Reidsville is one of them.
The last time he dropped a trophy buck was five years ago, Oct. 23, 2015, with a bow. The Rockingham County 5×5’s rack totaled 173 2/8 inches gross and 162 net inches.
“I hadn’t shot at a big deer since then,” said the 39-year-old Greensboro PD officer. “I’d seen plenty of bucks and killed a lot of cull bucks with my bow. But I let bunches of 130 (inches racks) and 10-pointers walk.”
League had over 400 trail-cam photos of the buck
He finally pulled the trigger on another wall-hanger Nov. 7, 2019, although he didn’t find the buck until Sunday, Nov. 10. Its mainframe 5×5 headgear taped 159 6/8 inches with only 4 2/8 deductions for a 155 4/8 net score.
“I had 400 (trail-cam) pictures of him in a small 88-acre area with scrapes large as campfires and a dozen trees with rubs you couldn’t reach your hands around,” League said.
The ridge was covered by white-oak acorn trees.
“He worked the (rub) trees and scraped in a circle around the bottom of the ridge,” he said.
A day earlier, heavy rains had pelted the area, soaking the ground.
“I couldn’t hear him (walking),” League said. “He just popped out in a little opening a little past 5:30 p.m. about 65 yards away.”
League sat in a ladder platform stand 20-feet high in a white oak.
He thought he had missed the buck after a fruitless search
“I took a trained reaction shot (with his in-line Savage .50-caliber smokeless-powder muzzle-loader),” he said. “The deer ran off, and I thought I heard him crash, but it was hard to tell with the rain.”
In fact the deer fell 75 yards from League’s perch, shot through the lungs. However, it had run over the ridge top, then turned right downhill toward a creek.
“But he never bled (or rain washed out sign),” he said.
Although the hill was covered in oaks, it also had lots of underbrush.
The hunter left and returned with his father, Art League, at 7 p.m. They searched an hour without finding a speck of blood then went home.
“I walked past him 25 yards (Thursday night) with him just over the hill,” League said. “I thought I’d missed (the shot) by then.”
Buzzards led him to the buck
He returned at noon Friday and looked for 1 1/2 hours without success and didn’t search Saturday.
“A buddy, Craig Apple, told me I was too good a shot to have missed a deer at that distance,” League said.
He returned Sunday morning to hunt and saw buzzards circling. League walked toward the scavengers and found the head and neck of his buck.
“The coyotes had wore him out,” he said.
But League was pleased with the rack.
The right main beam taped 25 1/2 inches and the left beam was 24 6/8 inches. The left G1 was 3 4/8 with the right 4 4/8; both G2s measured 11 inches and the G3s also were identical at 11 4/8 inches. The left G4 was 4 2/8 inches with the right G4 at 3 4/8 inches.
The circumference measurements ranged between 4 and 4 6/8 inches.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.