Sprinkle finally made a personal connection with the buck when he arrowed it on Oct. 9. The buck carried a huge 7-point main-frame rack with five non-typical points and a total of 162 2/8 inches of antlers.
Sprinkle has trail-camera photos of the buck from as far back as 2008, when the buck sported the same seven points. He'd actually had a chance to take him on Dec. 26, 2010, but while the buck's right antler was huge, the left antler had been broken off. Only five days from the end of the season, he hoped if he let the buck walk, it would survive and grow an even bigger rack in 2011.
"I think," Sprinkle said, "he was actually a little bigger last year (than when he was killed)."
The afternoon of Oct. 9, Sprinkle set up on an acorn ridge about 5:30. The buck had started hitting the area a few weeks before, usually before sunrise in the morning.
Around 7 o'clock, doe and fawns began grazing about 40 yards away from the stand. Sprinkle waited for them to leave, then hooked his bow and quiver to a haul line and prepared to make his own exit a big, wide 6-point buck and his trophy buck entered the area.
Sprinkle quickly but quietly grabbed the haul line and removed his equipment. The 6-pointer continued walking until it came to a standstill beside Sprinkle's stand, while the bigger buck headed toward a maple tree that Sprinkle had previously ranged at 20 yards. As the buck turned broadside, Sprinkle let out a soft grunt and released the string on his Matthews bow, sending an arrow tipped with a 100-grain, 2-blade Rage broadhead on its way.
Sprinkle immediately knew his hit was a solid one, but with darkness fast approaching and worried that he'd lose the blood trail, he called a friend to bring a tracking dog. Shortly after his friend's arrival, they found the arrow, coated in blood. They didn't need the dog to follow a trail of bright, red blood only 50 yards to where the trophy buck had crashed to the ground.
After getting the buck out of the woods, he drove it to a nearby store to have it weighed; it tipped the scales at 255 pounds.
"(The store owner) told me the scale may be off three or four pounds," Sprinkle said. "I knew he weighed a lot from when we put him in the truck. I didn't plan on moving him a whole lot."
The buck's unusual rack had 6-inch bases, and the tallest tines on each main beam were longer than 11 inches. The buck's inside spread was 18 inches, it had triple brow tines and a 6-inch drop tine on the left antler.
Sprinkle figures the deer to be 7 ½ years old, but he plans to have the buck's lower jawbone examined by N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for a better estimation.