When Travis Barnes of Clayton, N.C. realized he wasn’t getting any trail camera photos of good bucks on his corn piles, he did a little scouting and found a nice rub in an area that was completely natural. He set up a camera there, and got two photos that night of a trophy deer. 

And six days later, he killed the biggest buck of his life with his Remington 770 .300 Win Mag. The Johnston County 11-pointer has thick tines throughout, and has been gross green-scored at 141 inches.

“I wasn’t getting any photos at all of shooter bucks on my corn, and on Nov. 1, I scouted around some and found a good rub where there was a bunch of acorns near a swampy area. It was just a natural setting, and I moved one of my cameras there that day. It snapped two photos that night of the big buck and I knew right away this buck was a shooter,” said Barnes.

Luckily, Barnes’ ladder stand wasn’t too far away, so he put a plan together that he hoped would bring the buck out during legal shooting hours.

And on Nov. 7, his plan came together during an early afternoon hunt when the buck came in within 15 minutes of Barnes performing a sequence of rattles, grunts, and doe bleats.

“I’ve done that before and had smaller bucks show up, but this was the first time a true mature buck responded to me doing that. I got in the stand at 1:30 p.m., and I shot the deer at 2:15,” he said.

But it wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it seems. As Barnes was scanning the area in front of him, which was the logical place for any deer to approach his stand, he heard a stick break behind him on the very path he had walked in on. He turned to get a look at what made the noise and 25 yards behind his stand, he saw the buck. And the buck saw him.

“It spooked the deer, but not in a way that he bolted. It was more like he was just trying to figure out what I was. He ran about 40 yards, and I grunted at him. He stopped right away, about 45 yards away from me. He was standing quartering away from me, and I pulled the trigger. He ran about 15 yards and folded up. I shot him in one shoulder and it came out the other shoulder,” he said.

Barnes looked at the buck through his binoculars before getting out of the stand and knew he’d made a good shot.

“I was shaking so bad, I called my girlfriend to get her to calm me down,” he said.

Then the real work began. Coyotes are a big problem in this area, so he wasn’t about to leave the buck behind to get help. And because of this fall’s hurricanes, the path to Barnes’ hunting stand is inaccessible except by foot, and it’s a 500-yard walk to the nearest spot that’s accessible by ATV. So he field dressed the buck, then dragged it that distance, then carted it by ATV the rest of the way to his truck.

A few days later, Barnes and his son decided to move the stand to another location, and saw another buck that he hopes to get another look at before the season is over.

“We jumped a buck, and it was even bigger than the one I killed,” he said.