"When I got the first picture of him, I about fell out of my chair," Isner said.
Fortunately, his "plan of attack" worked, and on Nov. 14, Isner finally got a look at the buck, made a good shot and was stunned when he got to the buck and started counting.
The big, main-frame 8-pointer had a total of 23 scoreable points and will likely approach the 180-inch mark, making it the latest huge buck from Guilford County, one of the state's most heavily populated counties.
"He's one of a kind," Isner said. "I had trail-cam pix of him, but I didn't think I would have an opportunity. Last season, I killed a 140-class deer, and I never thought I'd ever kill another deer that big around here – and that was before this one."
Isner, 33, was hunting on a 10-acre piece of property he has access to. The big buck started to show up in trail-cam pix last summer, in a bachelor group of six to eight bucks.
"I was impressed with some of the other bucks, then he shows up one day," Isner said. "As the season approached, I started getting a photo of him about once a week, at 3 or 4 in the morning.
"I tried bowhunting him, but I gave up; I figured he was nocturnal, and I didn't want to put any pressure on him. I didn't want to get back in the woods and bait him with corn."
Isner and his wife, Carrie Jo – who was also hunting the buck with archery equipment – decided to back out of the woods. They decided to hunt out of the loft on an old barn on the property that overlooks an overgrown field, hoping the buck would show up there when the rut kicked in.
"I figured we needed to lay off, but I still hunted as much as I could. I sort of made a little place in the barn's loft I could hunt out of, but I never saw him until (Nov. 14)," he said. "I hunted during muzzleloader season, and I saw plenty of deer – small bucks and does – and I shot two coyotes out of the barn."
The afternoon of Nov. 14, Isner said the buck just "showed up" about 10 minutes before pitch-black dark.
"He popped out of the woods, being very cautious," he said. "He was in some little cedars growing up, and I put the scope on him and saw those massive brow tines. I knew it was him right away.
"He turned and walked back to the woods – he was trotting – but right when he got to the edge, he turned and came back out and started eating some clover."
Isner drew a bead on the buck with his Remington .270 and 4x12 Bushnell scope, and at 100 yards, he dropped the buck.
Only when he got to the buck did Isner realize exactly what he had killed: one of the biggest, most-unusual bucks killed in North Carolina this season.
The buck still had traces of dried velvet hanging from various places on the rack which had an outside spread of 18 ¾ inches. Both brow tines are 11 inches long, but length isn't the big drawing point. The right brow tine boasts eight sticker points, the left brow tine has five, and a couple more jut from the bases of the antlers.
"I don't think there will be too much deduction from side to side, and you can hardly get your hand around his bases," Isner said.