Through a chance meeting with a landowner, Michael Vargo of Oxford, NC gained hunting access to a piece of property that he had been eyeballing for a while. Although he had seen plenty of deer from the highway, he didn’t know it would hold the biggest buck he had ever taken — a 159-inch, Granville County 10-point that he harvested on Nov. 17.
“I saw him at his mailbox one day,” said Vargo regarding the landowner. “So, I stopped and talked to him; asked him if he lets anybody hunt. He said, ‘I got 12 acres on this side of the road and 12 acres on that side of the road. Son, hunt all you want to. Ain't nobody hunted it in years.’”
Vargo wasted no time in setting the land up to hunt with corn piles and trail cameras — one side for himself and the other side for his girlfriend, Marlene Repak. And on Oct. 10, he got a picture that blew his socks off. Although he could see only one side of the rack, he knew the buck was a shooter.
The only hitch was that the buck had turned up on Repak’s side of the road. But, since she killed a solid 138 1/2-incher at a different location on the opening day of muzzleloader season, Vargo ruled this buck fair game and began hunting it himself.
The first encounter was a sour one. Vargo believes he blew the buck out of its bedding area on the way to his stand on Nov. 10 leading to a week of afternoon hunts without seeing it again. But, after checking the camera on the other side of the road, he found it loaded with the buck’s pictures from the day before up to that morning.
“I got back in there about 3:30,” said Vargo. “About 4 o'clock, I had a doe and a button head show up. They stayed until about 4:20. I looked to my right after they left and there's the buck standing at 30 yards. I was like, ‘Lord have mercy, here we go!’”
“I reached and grabbed the gun. I started shouldering it and he steps behind a tree. I believe he could hear me breathing, that's how hard my heart was beating. Finally, he stepped out from behind the tree and I start to shoulder the gun again. He raised his head and looked straight at me. Finally, he put his head back down into the corn pile.”
Vargo pulled the trigger on his Tikka .30-06 and fired a 150-grain Remington Core-Lokt bullet as the buck stood broadside. The bullet hit behind the shoulder and the deer lunged into the air before hitting the ground and struggling into the undergrowth. Vargo regained his composure and climbed down. He found a blood trail that led him to a nearby creek where the buck had piled up in an undercut in the bank.
Vargo’s buck carried an inside spread of 17 ½ inches. The longest tine is an 11 ¼ -inch G2 followed by a G3 just over 11 inches.