Aaron Bates wasn’t “supposed” to kill the big buck that showed up in front of his ground blind early on Saturday evening. But when the 180-inch non-typical gave him a perfect broadside shot, he took it.
Bates, an attorney from Wadesboro, let fly with an arrow from his Mathews bow around 7:20 p.m., and later that evening, he got to put his hands around the massive bases of an enormous Anson County buck.
“I really wanted my dad, or Mr. Lynn Clodfelter, to get this buck,” Bates said. “I killed a nice deer two years ago, about a 150-inch buck, and I wanted one of them to get him.”
Of course, Bates never thought about not taking a shot when the buck presented himself broadside at 25 yards along the edge of a food plot. Not with an inside spread of almost 20 inches, beams that measured more than 24 inches, bases that were seven inches in circumference and a main-frame 5x6 rack with one huge drop tine, split 9-inch brow tines on both antlers and a handful of other sticker points.
Bates said several members of the hunt club put a tape measure on the buck late Saturday night, and they came up with a gross non-typical score in the high 180s and a possible net non-typical score in the 170s.
“The buck came from an area where my father hunts,” Bates said. “He had the deer on a trail camera over the summer, and he normally doesn’t bow hunt. I put up a (pop-up) ground blind a month ago, thinking he’d shoot his crossbow, but he didn’t have much time, so he told me to go on and hunt in there.
“We had a bunch of trail cam photos of him – and we had him last year. He was a big 10-pointer last year; he probably needed higher (typical) last year. I don’t know if anybody had ever actually seen him that we know.
“We got him in early July on a trail cam, and we thought he’d be every bit of Boone & Crockett,” he said. “He already had the big brow tines and the drop tine, and it looked like he was a main-frame 5x5 at that point. But the mass was what was so impressive about him.”
Bates didn’t expect to see the buck show up in front of the ground blind he’d brushed up for his father; he admitted he was expecting another buck.
“This was the first time I’d hunted it; we’d made an agreement not to go in and hunt it until the time was right, and with a big front coming in Saturday, it was time,” he said.
But at about 7:10, the buck stuck its head out of a thicket that surrounded the food plot (clover, wheat and rye) and started to work over a corn pile. The buck didn’t come out far enough to give Bates a clean shot, and after a couple of minutes, it turned and went back into the thicket.
“I was sitting there thinking, ‘Nobody will believe I saw that deer and didn’t take a bad shot,’” Bates said. “He was the first deer I’d seen all year, and he came out by himself. Three or four minutes later, he came right back out to the same spot. He stepped further out and gave me a perfect broadside at 25 yards. I got a complete pass-through.”
The buck turned and headed back into the thicket, and Bates waited a few minutes, went out and recovered his Carbon Express arrow and New Archery broadhead.
“I started calling everybody,” he admitted.
Clodfelter rounded up a handful of people to help trail the deer, worried that if an expected cloudburst showed up, they’d never find the deer before the coyotes got to him. They started into the woods about 10 p.m. and found the buck about 200 yards away, close to a creek bed.
“He wasn’t that big-bodied a deer; I’d estimate him at about 175 pounds,” Bates said.
Of course, who was looking at the deer’s body?
The head, on the other hand, carried a 5x6 main frame. A drop tine between 8 ½ and nine inches long protruded from the bottom of its left beam, a few inches off the base. Another sticker points approaching four inches jutted from the back of the beam, out of sight from the front of the deer. Bates called it a “back-scratcher.”
Both brow tines were split, with the longer tips measuring nine inches, and the buck had three or four more abnormal points around its base. The longest typical tines were 10 inches, and the buck had a 19 ¾-inch inside and 22-inch outside spread.
“His mass measurements were what were really impressive,” Bates said. “The bases were seven inches, and all the rest of the circumferences were five or 5 ½ inches.
“Two years ago, everybody told me I wouldn’t kill another deer that big; I told them the other night they ought to say the same thing again. It was really a team effort; 10 guys deserved that deer; I was just lucky enough to shoot him."