For Jake Oakley of Carthage, N.C., the last few minutes of shooting light during the afternoon of Nov. 14 proved to be just enough to get a solid shot on a monster 13-point buck he had been after for several weeks. Scoring out at 145 inches and two inches larger than his previous buck, his new personal best is one of the largest bucks taken out of Harnett County, this year.
Oakley isn’t new to killing big bucks. Over the past six years, Oakley has taken four bucks over 130 inches from his collection of North Carolina hunting properties in both Moore and Harnett Counties. But, Oakley knew this buck was a good one as soon as he first captured a frame of him back in early October. Oakley decided to make his season’s goal to get this deer on the dirt. And for the last 14 days, there were only two days that kept him out of the deer stand.
“I devoted all of my time to this deer,” he said. “Traditionally, there are two weeks a year when we get a chance to catch a mature buck like this one messing up and I was going to go every day until I got him.”
Oakley works the night shift at GKN Automotive in Sanford, North Carolina. And on days he works, he was getting in the stand every day after work for the morning hunt. But, it wasn’t until the afternoon of Nov. 14 when Oakley was off work and the deer decided to come by his 200-yard long food plot sniffing out for does at the wrong time.
That afternoon, Oakley got in his stand around 2:30. And at 3:45 and 4:20, two smaller bucks came out briefly sniffing around on his food plot covered in rye and spiked with a generous pile of yellow gold.
“Both of these bucks came out sniffing all over the place and didn’t pay much attention to the corn. I believe there was a hot doe that had been there earlier,” he said.
As light began to dwindle away, Oakley caught movement 100 yards down the lane right in the middle of the food plot at 5:35 p.m. He could tell it was a racked buck immediately, but wasn’t sure which buck it was. He had a borderline 10-pointer that was also coming regularly to the corn. He picked up his Browning .243 X-Bolt and peered through the scope to investigate.
“As I looked at him in the scope, it was clearly him. I waited for a few minutes until I could get a clear shot and fired!” He said. “He dropped in his tracks!”
With 10-inch G2’s and a 17 ¾-inch outside spread, the buck taped out to 145 5/8 inches during a preliminary measurement.
“Two weeks out of the year, these deer make a mistake and thank God I was there to capitalize on him,” he said. “I am a firm believer if you put the time in, good things will happen.”