No bucks that will threaten the Boone & Crockett Club's standards for entry into its all-time record book have been reported to North Carolina Sportsman; two bucks made the grade in 2011, and overall, the number of 160-inch bucks from that season was missing in 2012.
It's still possible that some monster with horns that would do a reindeer proud might show up at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh next month, but if one doesn't, it won't be an alarming trend for the state's deer herd, which still numbers approximately 1.2 million animals and has been producing near-record harvests the past handful of seasons.
A couple of things remain consistent.
First, the great majority of the biggest bucks killed this past season that have appeared on the magazine's pages or on its website - and those profiled in this story - were taken in a period of about two weeks in mid-November. That underlines what most biologists and hunters have preached for years: that the peak of the rut, and the best opportunity to take a big buck, is from around Nov. 10 until Nov. 25. A couple of huge archery trophies were killed earlier, and Montgomery produced a huge non-typical in mid-December, but for the most part, it's mid-November or bust.
Second, the story behind each "trophy" deer is unique. Some are humorous, some are heart-warming, some show how fickle fate can be, and some are downright strange.
So continue to read and discover how in 2012 a woman killed her trophy of a lifetime three years after bungling a bow shot at the same buck; how a guest at a hunting club bagged the monster that members had been targeting for years and, strangest of all, why a suburban Mecklenburg County church begged a bowhunter to thin a local deer herd and how he killed what might be North Carolina's top bow buck of the season.