For the second time in eight days, Rockingham County has spit out an apparent Boone & Crockett Club buck, this time a huge typical that may wind up among the four or five largest whitetails ever taken in North Carolina.
This past Saturday morning, Lance Gunn of Wentworth killed a huge, main-frame 10-point buck with split brow tines and one other sticker point that should easily make the record book and wind up scoring in the high 170-inch range.
Gunn, 51, took the buck at 20 yards with a .303 Enfield, an old military rifle with peep sights, after it followed a handful of does that walked almost on top of him as he sat with his back to an oak tree on a farm that’s been in his family for a long time.
The buck has been rough-scored by two different people; one came up with 190 5/8 gross typical, the other, Jeremy Evans, a Guilford County resident who is featured on the Forever Wild Outdoors television show on the Pursuit Channel, scored the buck in the mid-180s gross typical.
The deer can receive an official score after a 60-day drying period. Depending on exactly how the buck’s rack matches up and how much it loses for its split brow tines and sticker point, the buck could wind up as high as No. 3 in the Dixie Deer Classic’s rankings of North Carolina’s best bucks.
Terry Daffron’s Guilford County buck, killed in 1987, leads the way at 181 7/8, followed by Will Price’s 1999 Ashe County buck, which scored 180 5/8. A Caswell County buck found dead by a squirrel hunter in 1988 is No. 3 at 178, followed by Billy Rodgers’ 2012 Rockingham County buck, which scored 176 4/8. A 2014 crossbow kill from Davidson County taken by Steven Davis holds down the No. 5 spot at 173 7/8.
Wherever the buck winds up, it capped a morning that had already been a big success for Gunn — just for the magnificent sunrise he watched.
“I don’t get real excited about getting in the woods real early — I’ve run up a bunch of deer walking in in the dark — and it started out as a perfect day for me,” Gunn said. “I took a picture of the sunrise; it was one of those days where it’s so beautiful it doesn’t matter whether you see a deer or not.”
But he did see deer.
Gunn was sitting at the base of an oak tree at the bottom of a cow pasture around 8 o’clock when he saw a group of deer about 100 to 120 yards away, including a racked buck he figured might be a small 8-pointer. A few minutes later, the group of does popped up around 30 to 40 yards away and proceeded to march in, almost right on top of him.
“There were four does together; I was sure they’d spook, so I got as still as I could with my rifle raised, and they came right up to me. One was broadside at about 10 yards, stomping her foot at me,” Gunn said.
“I heard another deer; he came in from out of sight and he was sort of behind the does. I could tell it was a buck, a big deer, and he stopped right behind a tree. Two of the does turned and ran off, but the other two stayed right there. I was going crazy; I wanted at least to see what the buck was.”
Gunn’s sons, Jacob and Corey, has a couple of trail cameras they’ve had out on the farm, and they had picked up images of a huge buck they figured was about 150 inches, but only at night. When the buck finally stuck his head out from behind the tree, Gunn recognized him as the big buck. He took aim low on the buck’s neck — the best shot he had — squeezed off the shot and watched the buck crumple on the spot as the 150-grain hand-loaded Hornaday Spire Point bullet hit.
Gunn got together with his sons, one of whom called Evans, and Evans picked up his equipment, left the woods and rushed to the Gunn farm.
“I thought it was a big buck, but I had no idea it was that big; they were all in awe of it. I wouldn’t have thought it would score that big, but they were figuring between 185 and 190 (gross typical),” he said.
Evans said the buck has a 23-inch inside spread, 27 1/2-inch main beams and bases that were 5 1/2 inches in circumference. The buck carries its mass well out on the beams.
“I’ve got a 167-inch buck mounted, and this buck just kills mine,” Evans said. “He’s a toad; he’s the biggest buck I’ve ever seen, and I’ve hunted all over. The trail-camera photos don’t do him justice.”
Taxidermist William Sawyer of Realistic Reproductions is mounting Gunn's super buck.
Click here to read about other big North Carolina bucks.
Click here to find out why Rockingham County is a hotbed for huge bucks.