After having trail-camera pictures of a big buck last season, Nolan Cole of Oak Ridge, N.C., laid out a buffet of baits to keep him in the area. And after playing some hide-and-seek, Cole sealed the deal on Sept. 19, tagging a 154-inch Guilford County 10-pointer after tracking him with only a broken arrow to go by.
Cole makes scouting a year-round activity to keep up with the bucks on the 120 acres of his grandfather’s farm. While this one had been extremely photogenic during last season — giving up three to four photos every week on trail camera for six weeks — he disappeared. But he resurfaced in the first week of September, appearing to have added what Cole estimates to be 30 inches of antler.
“I started sweetening him up a little bit after that,” said Cole. “I put out Deer Cane, a lot of corn, a lot of apples and … an out-of-date mix a friend of mine buys in bulk — that's what he really started hammering.
“He started coming in almost every evening about 15 minutes before dark, then he was gone again. So I baited it up real hard and stayed out of the area. I didn’t even check my cameras for about two weeks. Then, I came in late after work and there were lots of signs of him — fresh rubs, big rubs and the bait was gone. I checked the card and the first picture was him, about 30 minutes before dark. I slipped back out.”
Cole made plans to be in his ladder stand early the next afternoon but couldn’t make it until 6 o’clock. He sat until almost dark without ever seeing or hearing a deer. Then, when he was almost ready to pack up, the buck crept into the pinch point he was hunting between two oak ridges.
Once in range, Cole drew his Mathews Heli-M compound bow, but the buck quartered toward him, and he let down. When the buck turned again, Cole drew again and released a Victory arrow with a 100-grain Rage Trypan expandable broadhead at 20 yards. The buck flipped over and ran into the underbrush.
“The arrow didn’t pass through him, and he broke it off when he flipped,” Cole said. “I found the majority of it. There wasn’t any blood on it or on the ground. That’s when I got nervous. I decided to back out and not look for any blood. I didn't even look past where he was standing.”
After giving it a couple of hours, Cole returned with a few friends and began searching in the direction the buck had ran. They picked up his trail, and found him about 70 yards away.
Cole’s buck was estimated to weigh over 200 pounds. Its rack features an inside spread of 18 inches and tines as long as 13 inches. The brow tines were 8½ and 7 inches long.