"I didn't see a deer on Saturday, and on Sunday, I saw eight does," said Morris, who lives in the Granville County community of Stem. "I went Monday after work, got in my stand around 5:30, and at 7 o'clock, I hadn't seen anything, things were getting quiet and the sun was going down, and I'm thinking, 'I'm gonna have another evening with no luck.'"
Then, Lady Luck came wandering up to her stand in the form of a big 9-point buck, in full velvet, with long brow tines and 135 inches of antler.
"We had him on trail cameras, not a lot of times, but a few times," said Jennifer Morris, who along with her husband Kevin, hunts near the community of Berea. "When we first put the cameras out, he was coming in late at night, then he started coming in around 7. My husband said, 'If you're gonna kill him, you'd better hunt that stand.'"
So Jennifer Morris, who works for an orthopedic surgeon in Duke University's sports medicine division, concentrated on the ladder stand where she had the trail camera that had taken the buck's photos, overlooking a corn pile just back in the woods from a field of planted pines and grass.
A few minutes after 7, Jennifer Morris looked out across the field and nearly fell out of her stand.
"All of the sudden, I saw him start coming across the field in my direction," she said. "The first time I saw him, it was like I was in denial – 'No, it can't be him.' But my husband had told me to look for the long brow tines to recognize him, and when I saw them, I knew it was him."
The big buck was trailing a couple of smaller bucks in his wake, which Jennifer Morris thought was strange.
"Usually, the small bucks come first, but here he came, he was first," she said. "He circled around the corn pile, then he got in the corn, but he was facing me for what seemed like a long time. Another deer came up from the bottom and kind of spooked him, and he jumped off and started walking way.
"I had him in a rangefinder, and I was following him in the scope on my crossbow, waiting for him to go out of range. Finally, he settled down. The other bucks were standing in the corn, eating, and he saw them, and he turned and made his way back to the corn pile.
"He got to the edge of the corn, and I was on him," she said. "He was 20 yards away. As soon as he stopped, I pulled the trigger. He jumped and sort of bowed up, then he barreled out of there like nothing had happened.
"I called my husband on the phone – he and my son were in another stand. Then I got down and went to find my arrow. I climbed out of my tree stand, went and found my ladder and there was blood on it, so I knew I'd made a good shot."
It certainly was. When her husband arrived, it wasn't a difficult search, as they found the buck piled up about 90 yards away. Shooting a Parker Tornado crossbow, she had put the bolt, tipped with a Swacker broadhead, in perfectly behind one shoulder, and it had gone all the way through.
Of course, at that point, how perfect her shot had been wasn't a No. 1 concern. Those big antlers were.The buck carried a typical 9-point rack that was still in full velvet. It had a 17 1/4-inch inside spread, and those big brow tines that had identified the buck were 6 ¼ and 6 3/8 inches long. The longest tines on each antler measured 10 inches, and overall, preliminary measurements gave the buck a Boone & Crockett score of 135 ½ inches. Because of the full velvet, the buck can't be scored officially for the Pope & Young Club, but it's no less of a trophy, and it may rank well up in the N.C. Bowhunters Association record book.