But the Trinity High School senior is making the most of his efforts. On Nov. 3, he added the fourth buck to his collection, and it's one he'll have a difficult time surpassing.
The 16-pointer, shot in Rockingham County with his father's CVA Buckhorn .50-caliber muzzleloader, has been green-scored at 173 non-typical and 163 typical points.
Croker showed restraint beyond his years to help earn his trophy buck.
"I had a decent 9-pointer in the field where I was hunting," he said. "I was texting my father (William "Bill" Croker) about the 9-pointer, and he had texted me back and asked if I was going to shoot the 9. I was just about to text him back when the big one stepped out."
Croker was hunting at a farm his father has owned for about 20 years. A friend, Gene Byerly, was hunting with the Crokers that day.
"I was in a buddy ladder stand 14 feet off the ground next to a rye field," Will Croker said, explaining that pines and hardwoods grew on three sides of the stand.
"The stand looks into the hardwoods because that's where the deer usually come to eat acorns," Croker said, "but they come into the field at times, too."
At 3 p.m., a button buck walked into the rye field and ate for 30 minutes. It worked its way to a crown in the field's middle then stared at the woods.
"When he looked (at the woods), he ran off," Croker said. "I thought at the time something probably was in those woods."
At about 5 p.m., the 9-pointer appeared, followed by a doe.
"Then, the 16-pointer came out of the woods from my left," Croker said. "But he stopped at the field's edge, maybe 70 to 75 yards away. He was much bigger than the 9-pointer; his body was like a cow, and I said, 'That's what I'm looking for.' "
Croker raised the gun, took aim at the buck's ribcage and pulled the trigger.
"I heard (the deer) running, then I heard him crash in the woods," Croker said.
Bill Croker texted his son almost immediately and asked if he'd shot the 9-pointer. The younger Croker responded that he shot a bigger buck, so they met at their truck, then drove back to the field.
"It took about 10 minutes to find the buck," Croker said. "He didn't run far into the woods from where I shot him behind his left shoulder. My dad and Mr. Lyerly kept commenting about how much mass the rack had."