On Nov. 12, Clif Holloman of Pine Level, N.C. killed the biggest buck of his life, a mainframe 8-pointer with one scorable sticker that has been green-scored at 120 inches. A little over two weeks later, he killed a bigger one, an 11-point buck that scored 135 6/8 inches.
He killed the first deer in Franklin County, and the second one in Johnston County.
Holloman, was hunting a 400-acre farm when he killed the first buck. On that day, he did something he’d never done before; he hunted the entire day.
“I’d never sat all day before, but on Nov. 12, I hunted one stand from first light until about 10:45 a.m., then I went and grabbed lunch from Bojangles. I went back to a different stand and sat from about 11:30 a.m to 4:03 p.m.,” he said.
And at 4:03 p.m., he was pulling the trigger on his 7mm-.08 Ruger Hawkeye M77 at the first big buck of the season.
“I was watching the N.C. State – Syracuse football game on my phone as I sat in the stand, and when I looked up, I noticed the buck easing in close to a pile of cob corn I had out. But he never stepped all the way into the lane where the corn pile was. He was eating some of the corn that the raccoons had dragged to the edge of the lane,” said Holloman, who shot the deer in the neck, dropping it on the spot.
“When I got to it, I realized it was a deer I’d seen on camera, but had no daylight photos of,” he said.
On Dec. 1, Holloman decided to hunt a stand on his family farm in Pine Level where he’d been capturing trail camera photos of another deer he thought might rival the size of his 120-inch trophy.
“I had numerous photos of this deer too, but all the photos were at night. On Nov. 30, I noticed I had photos of him on the same camera at 4 different times the night before. He showed up at 7 p.m., 10 p.m., 1 a.m., and 4 a.m. So I knew he was really close by, and I thought he might slip up and come out in daylight real soon,” he said.
So Holloman slipped into the stand in the afternoon of Dec. 1, and saw two deer immediately. Then around 4:45 p.m., he saw numerous does and yearlings playing in front of him for 10 or 15 minutes. And at 5 o’clock, the 11-point buck slipped in with his head down, sniffing the ground.
“He was about 65 yards away, and he began quartering away from me. I thought he was going to walk down the lane away, so I didn’t waste any time. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. He ran about 15 yards, then dropped,” Holloman said.
“It’s been a great year. I doubt I’ll ever have another hunting season as good as this one has been. I feel really fortunate and thankful,” he said.