A few minutes after 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, John Neese, a sheriff’s deputy in Guilford County, looked over his shoulder and saw the biggest buck of his life standing just 24 yards away in his corn pile. Wasting no time, he swiveled around in his tree stand, lined up the crosshairs on his Ten Point crossbow and pulled the trigger, winding up with a 175-inch trophy he literally had to swim to get.

Neese has taken several bucks in the 140- to 150-inch class with his rifle in past seasons but never anything with any kind of bow. He bought his crossbow three years ago, intending to put something big on his wall with it, but in the first two seasons he carried it, the only deer that passed within lethal range were small bucks and does.

“I wanted to wait until I had something impressive to shoot with my bow,” he said. 

Reese put up trail cameras in August, and they produced two impressive photos of a huge buck.

“I knew he was in the area, but I just didn’t know how much,” he said. “He wasn’t showing up anywhere consistently, and I never saw him driving around in the fields either.” 

On Monday, his luck changed. He settled into his stand a few minutes after five, but it was 7 o’clock before a few does showed up on one of his two corn piles, one next to a field and the other back in the woods. The does were on the pile back in the woods, and Neese turned to get a better look at them. Several minutes later, they alerted Neese that something was about to happen.

“The does started looking out in the field behind me,” said Neese, who remained still to keep from spooking the does, turning his head and shoulders very slightly.

“I looked over my shoulder and I could see something there,” he said. 

The corn pile near the field was between several small trees that helped screen his stand from any deer feeding. Reese turned a little more to get a better look.

“It was him. He was standing there already on the other corn pile with two other bucks,” said Neese, who picked up his crossbow, found the buck in the scope and pulled the trigger. The buck took off running and was soon out of sight.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to get nervous,” Neese said. “I just couldn’t believe he was already on the corn pile when I turned around.”

When he climbed down from his stand and walked to the corn pile, it wasn’t difficult to find blood and a nice trail to follow. He stayed on it for nearly 250 yards until he got to a pond; the blood trail ended at the edge of the water. It was dark, and the pond was ringed with thick vegetation, but Neese wedged his way through to the bank to look across the pond.

“I shined my light across the pond, and there he was. He was floating in the middle of the pond,” said Neese, who pulled out his phone, keys and wallet, laid them to the side and got into the pond.

“I was going swimming after him. I didn’t care how deep it was, I was going to get my deer,” he said.

Neese waded into nearly chest-deep water before he got to the deer, but it was worth it. His buck was a main-framed 5x5 with a 19¾-inch inside spread and seven kicker points, including double brow tines on his right antler and a long sticker point at the base of its right  beam that extends vertically past the beam.

A preliminary scoring puts the deer just below 175 Boone and Crockett Club points as a gross non-typical.