North Carolina crowned its best bucks from the 2017-18 deer season at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh the first weekend in March, and a couple of real specimens headed the list of award winners. 

Big bucks, interesting storiesRusty Pruitt of Newton Grove killed a big Johnston County buck that was the best non-typical taken by gun. The deer scored 175 7/8  using the Boone and Crockett Club’s scoring system.. Pruitt had the buck on trail-cam photos but had seen it only twice, including the day after Thanksgiving when he killed it from a box stand.

“He was impossible to hunt. He would show up on trail cams around October of every year, then disappear for weeks. I just could not pattern it at all,” Pruitt said, “I had just gotten in the stand (that day) and barely opened the windows. I wasn’t there five minutes before I saw the buck standing about 150 yards away. I shot him, he fell like a rock, and then I drank my coffee. I realized I hadn’t even had time to put my ear protection on, but I don’t remember that bothering me,”

Jim Williams with Eastern Carolina Taxidermy, who mounted the buck for Pruitt, judged the deer at 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 years old by tooth wear on its lower jawbone.

A remote hunt on Thanksgiving morning helped land Adrian Whitson of Burnsville the top typical buck taken by gun in North Carolina this past season.

The 10-point buck, which scored 165 4/8, was killed in a remote area of Yancey County — a 30-minute ATV ride followed by a 20-minute walk from Whitson’s vehicle.

“My brother-in-law was about 45 minutes away, and he came to help me get the deer out to my ATV. It wasn’t an easy task, but I was glad to have some help, and it was worth it. It was definitely the deer of a lifetime for me, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity,” he said.

Eddie Callahan’s Cleveland County buck won Best Crossbow Typical with a 153 0/8 buck that has some extra hardware on its antlers, thanks to Callahan’s second shot, which he initially thought was the kill shot.

“As soon as I shot the deer with the first bolt, it went to the ground, spun around, then stood up. I loaded another bolt as quickly as I could, fired again, and the deer dropped for good,” Callahan said. “I couldn’t see where I’d hit the deer the second time, couldn’t find the bolt, but did find the nock on the ground nearby. The bolt apparently just shattered, but I finally found the broadhead when I grabbed the buck by the antlers and cut my hand.”

The broadhead had lodged solidly into the buck’s right beam, which is where it still sits in the mount. 

Jimmy Cockman’s Guilford County buck was the best non-typical taken by muzzleloader. it scored 173 5/8.

Patrick Williams’ Rockingham County buck scored 165 4/8 and was the largest non-typical taken by a bowhunter.

Other category winners:

Best Muzzleloader Typical: Wayne Hundley, Rockingham County, 153 2/8.

Best Bow Typical: Austin Hanks, Rockingham County, 163 0/8.

Best Gun Typical Female: Joanna Hutchins, Randolph County, 130 4/8.

Best Muzzleloader Typical Female: Marlene Vargo, Granville County, 119 7/8.

Best Bow Typical Female: Tootie Morris, Person County, 125 2/8.

Best Crossbow Typical Female: Teresa Turbyfill, Rockingham County, 131 2/8.

Best Gun Typical Youth Male: Jacob Elliott, Person County, 154 0/8.

Best Muzzleloader Typical Youth Male: Holden Land, Granville County, 134 4/8.

Best Crossbow Non-typical Youth Male: Chris Glosson, Person County, 128 4/8.

Best Gun Typical Youth Female: Payton Gross, Lee County, 109 4/8.

Best Muzzleloader Typical Youth Female: Madison Dunkley, Person County, 136 1/8.

Best Crossbow Non-typical Youth Female: Haylie Richard, Granville County, 120 3/8.