A cold front that eventually became the storm that dumped a foot of unexpected snow on New York and New England, breaking existing records for October, roared across the state Oct. 29 from southwest to northeast, pushing pelting rain in front of it.
Temperatures were in the low 40s that Saturday morning in Alamance County, but even though the skies tried to clear about 11 a.m., winds gusted to 30 mph and the chances of seeing a white-tail slim to none.
Keith Davis, a native of Alamance County who has hunted whitetails for the majority of his 58 years, said he heard the rain beating on his roof at 4 a.m. and did what most self-respecting hunters would do - he turned off his alarm clock and went back to sleep.
However, by mid-morning, the cheery skies fired up his desire to be outside, and Davis left home and drove to a farm in eastern Alamance County where he's had permission to hunt from the landowner for several years.
"I was going to hunt a different stand, but because of the wind I decided to hunt an enclosed box stand that's 16 feet off the ground," he said.
Davis carried a Thompson Center 50-caliber in-line smoke pole with a Bushnell scope mounted on its barrel. He'd loaded two 50-grain pellets of Pyrodex and a 200-grain Sabot round into the muzzle.
"I also went to this open field because it's so large – 20 acres – that deer come out into it and don't seem bothered by the wind," Davis said.
Yet deer remained in hiding for most of the day.
"I called my wife at 6 p.m. and told her nothing was happening, and I was getting ready to leave the stand," Davis said.
Then he looked up and saw two does standing 100 yards away in the grass field.
"They were playing, then this massive doe came out behind them and walked into the field," Davis said. "Right behind her a few yards was this big buck with a wide rack on his head."
The time was 6:15 p.m., and only about 45 minutes of light remained. Davis was worried the big deer wouldn't come closer when the doe and buck walked straight toward his box stand.
"They were 50 yards away, and I almost messed up because when I opened the window, I bumped it and the doe heard me and started stamping her foot and looking at me," he said. "Luckily for me, the buck was watching her and he came a little closer."
With the buck about 35 yards out, Davis eased his rifle up and rested it on the window sill and took aim.
"He was quartering toward me so I had to shoot him in the neck," he said.
The 200-plus-pound deer never knew what hit it, collapsing in its tracks.
"That's when I went all to pieces," Davis said. "I was afraid he'd get up and run, so I was trying to re-load my gun, but I dropped everything I had."
Davis, who said he'd been hunting this property for six years, had been placing shelled corn on the ground for two weeks, plus a new deer supplement called Buck Natural produced by Carolina Biological Supply.
"That stuff works," he said. "It's about $15 for a 4-pound bag, and you can get it over the Internet."
The buck filled the back of his Chevy Silverado short-bed pickup truck when Davis drove to his taxidermist, Bill Gammon of Mebane.
Its outside spread measures 25 inches.
"They wanted to see if I could sit down inside the rack, and I did it with plenty of wiggle room, and I weigh 225 pounds," Davis said.
Although Gammon hasn't scored the deer, its antlers are estimated at 150 Boone-and-Crockett inches.
Unofficially the brow tines measure 4 and 2 inches, the G2s are 9 inches and the G3s taped out at 13 1/2 inches in length.
"It's definitely the best white-tailed buck I've killed, and I've taken at least 100 whitetails," said Davis, who also has hunted in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. "My next best whitetail was a 9-pointer I killed last year in Caswell County on opening day of rifle season, and I've killed some big mule deer, but this (buck) supersedes any of those (trophies) I've taken in 42 years of deer hunting."
See other bucks killed this season, and add your own photos, in the North Carolina Sportsman Bag-a-Buck Contest!