Kenny Snyder of Efland, N.C. had to make a decision Nov. 6, and regretted it almost immediately.
That is until a monster 190-pound, 10-pointer stepped into an open woods path 60 yards in front of him.
The buck had identical 24-inch main beams, G1s of 6 and 4 inches, G2s of 12 2/8 and 11 inches and gross scored 159 inches. A tine tip was missing about 1 inch, which would have pushed the total to 160 inches, said Snyder who, along with wife Rhonda, has killed more than a dozen Orange County trophy bucks.
“I was in a tripod stand overlooking a 300-yard-long, narrow foot plot of wheat, oats, winter peas and clover that me and a buddy planted before Labor Day,” said the consulting firm analyst. “It’s a busy time of year for the company, but I tried to make time to hunt in the evenings because of the rut.”
His stand was at one end of the food plot. Snyder had placed a cut cedar tree in the middle of the stand’s metal legs for camouflage.
“It let me climb up and down without deer seeing me,” he said. “I don’t want to spook does when it gets dark and I have to leave.”
He reached the stand at 3:35 p.m. and settled in, holding a special Savage 10 ML II muzzle-loader, packed with 41 grains of AA5744 smokeless powder and a .50-caliber Hornady 250-grain XTP sabot bullet. A Zeiss 3x9 Variex scope sat on top.
“I feel comfortable shooting it out to 150 yards,” he said.
“The problem was it was cloudy, then several minutes before sunset the clouds went away — and the sun came out, shining in my eyes,” said Snyder, who watched a 15-inch wide 8-pointer chase a doe before they ran into the woods.
“Then a big deer stepped into the plot at the same place the 8-pointer and doe came out,” Snyder said. “But he never stopped and walked in their direction into the woods. I couldn’t see the rack because of the sun, but I thought it might the big one because of its body size.”
With a weed field 75 yards behind Snyder’s left, the smaller buck and doe headed in that direction.
“I felt like a fool because I had another 20 minutes to hunt, but I thought I’d have a better chance if I got down and checked the field,” he said. “That kind of move hardly ever works out because 9 times out of 10 you’ll spook everybody.”
After he eased from the stand and avoided detection by an 8-pointer 100 yards into the food plot, Snyder tip-toed down a curvy trail, looking through the woods toward the fallow field, trying to spot the three other deer.
“Then I heard hoof beats, like galloping horses,” he said.
The smaller buck and doe had left the weedy field, circled back toward the food plot and passed directly in front of Snyder around a curve.
“He was running her in a circle,” Snyder said. “Then the big boy stepped out 60 yards from me, half his body in the trail. He stood still for some reason, but I was wearing Mossy Oak Forest Floor pattern, a head net, camo gloves, and I was against the woods.”
The hunter quickly raised his gun, set the scope’s crosshairs on the monster’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.
“(The bullet) hit him solid, and he fell right there,” Snyder said. “I was stunned.”