Mike Davis has been a deer hunter for more than 30 years, but 2011 was only his third season to try his luck in Person County.

The warden for the City of Burlington's second water-supply impoundment (Lake MacIntosh) had never killed a trophy deer, and he wasn't expecting to see one based on past experience.

Then again, Davis hadn't hunted that much in Person, which is about in the middle of the northern tier of counties along the North Carolina-Virginia line that's called "The Trophy Belt" of the Tar Heel state.

It was there, on opening day of rifle season (Nov. 12), that Davis connected with a 152-inch 10-point.

The kill came while Davis was hunting with two locals - his brother Chris and friend Jeff Roberts - and Jay Brewer and Rusty Cheak of Greenville, Texas.

"I go (to Texas) to hunt (wild) pigs and (Rio Grande) turkeys with Jay and Rusty, and they come up here to hunt (white-tailed) deer with me," Davis said. "There also was a bunch of other guys hunting with us, but I don't know all their names."

Davis and his friends were at a Person County farm once owned by his family, where the Davises raised and harvested tobacco when the hunter was a youth. Davis was in a ladder stand in some open oak woods near a beaver swamp early that morning.

"I'd seen a doe come across my shooting lane about 90 minutes after I got there at 6:49 a.m.," he said.

He'd lifted into his stand a Browning 7 mm magnum bolt-action rifle with a Bausch and Lomb scope mounted on top.

"After the doe came out, the buck came into the lane about a half-minute behind her, 75 yards from me," Davis said.

The 50-year-old aimed carefully at the buck's shoulder and pulled the trigger.

"I think I hit him a little back, then I wasn't sure because most of the time a buck will run off fast, but he just trotted away about 40 yards then looked back at me," Davis said.

However, Davis said he knew he'd made good contact after a few moments because the deer "started walking wobbly."

The animal crashed after a few more steps.

"I heard him go down, then I didn't hear anything, so I knew he was down for good," Davis said.

He quickly climbed down and walked to the buck, which was on the ground a few yards from where Davis had last seen him.

"When he first walked out I knew he was a big-bodied buck, but I didn't know he was that big," Davis said. "I had an idea he might be a real good deer when he was walking away and I could see his (antlers) way outside his ears."

The trophy deer, which weighed 160 pounds and had a nearly perfect 10-point rack of antlers, had a swollen neck and its tarsal glands emitted a pungent odor, indicating it was primed for the rut.

Taxidermist Randy Dunkley of Hurdle Mills green scored the rack at 152 gross inches Boone & Crockett.

"I'd killed two 8-pointers about 14- or 15-inches (inside spread) wide," Davis said. "But I don't shoot bucks that size anymore; I let them walk and wait for something bigger.

"I know one thing; I never saw anything in my scope like that in 37 years of deer hunting."

See other bucks killed this season – and add photos of your own – in the Bag-a-Buck Contest!