Tory Pegg killed a 151-inch buck last season. That’s a good deer by anyone’s standard, but the younger buck traveling with Pegg’s 2018 deer really got the hunter’s attention. The buck already had an impressive rack, but Pegg judged him to be just 2 ½ years old. He decided to pass on the buck, hoping it would be even more impressive this year.
It was a good decision. When Pegg began checking his trail cameras in July of this year, one of his first looks revealed that the up-and-comer was back — and it had put on a lot of extra antler.
Pegg immediately forgot about the other farms he had permission to hunt. All of his early season scouting centered on the giant deer. After putting out mineral, the buck became a regular in front of his cameras. That is, right up until two weeks before the September 7 opener. Then the deer seemed to disappear. This is a small property, and all hardwoods, so deer activity is pretty dependent on mast. When he disappeared, I thought he must be on another food source, Tory said.
Pegg started to worry and decided to do one last camera check the Thursday before opening day. Sure enough, the buck was there in daylight. Acorns had started falling just in time, and he was back in the white oaks, Pegg said. The buck was more regular in the mornings than the evenings, but he got there before daylight, so I didn’t want to go in and take a chance on busting him and blowing him out of the area.
Instead, on opening day, he waited until about 4 p.m. and eased into a stand he’d positioned in a white oak funnel. Even though the farm was only about 10 acres, the oaks made a natural funnel that held deer every year, including Pegg’s big buck from the year before taken from the same stand location.
As darkness approached, Pegg picked up his bow and held it in preparation for a possible showing from the target buck. A little after 7 p.m., a lone doe worked her way down the hill, picking up acorns as she went.
Soon after, a small buck appeared. Pegg quickly recognized it as his target buck’s bachelor group buddy. Seconds went by and Pegg noticed more movement working through the thick brush. It was the big one. And it was only 60 yards away.
The buck wasn’t in a hurry at all, Pegg said. It picked at acorns for 15 minutes as it worked its way toward me. I didn’t have a shot and I didn’t want to risk moving, so I just watched him. I was shaking and tense. I was as nervous as I’ve ever been while hunting.
The buck continued working straight toward the hunter. At 25 yards, the deer lifted its head and began sniffing the air, licking its nose and trying to pinpoint the source of the scent.
I thought it was over, Pegg said. It seemed like he did that for 30 minutes, but I guess it was only a few seconds.
Much to Pegg’s relief, the buck finally lowered its head and continued feeding on acorns. The buck passed behind a tree at 15 yards. He drew his Mathews bow and held, waiting for the buck to step out.
The second his shoulder [re]appeared from behind the tree, I shot, Pegg said.
The impact was perfect, passing through the broadside buck’s shoulder. The deer took off, eventually crashing into a dead tree 25 yards from the treestand. The buck collapsed within sight, and the force of the impact knocked a tree over.
Pegg’s buck featured a 14-point main frame with 17 additional scorable points. The 31-point rack grossed a whopping 212 7/8 on the Buckmasters scoring system, making it the new Buckmasters record for the state. Once it has gone through the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily eclipse the current state record of 176 7/8.
Don’t Miss: Nicole Larson’s Full-Velvet Monster
Check out more stories, videos and educational how-to’s on deer hunting.
Follow us on Facebook.