We should have seen it coming. 

The fall of 2014 featured the second-largest mast crop on record in North Carolina, and it was followed by a predictable drop in the deer harvest that season. 

But that was just setting the table for the 2015 season.

Hunters typically take plenty of high-quality bucks the year after a monster acorn crop, because deer come out of the winter in better physical shape, ready to start dedicating more protein to those big hunks of bone growing from their skulls as soon as things start to green up.

Apparently, plenty of bucks read that script, because the 2015 season featured as many tremendous bucks as any in recent memory, including two trophies that should easily qualify for the Boone & Crockett Club’s all-time record book and rank close to the top of the list of North Carolina’s finest all-time whitetails.

Both bucks came from Rockingham County, the “buckle” of North Carolina’s “trophy belt” of northern Piedmont counties.  First, Patrick Williams of Belews Creek killed a 200-inch non-typical on Nov. 22, an 18-point monster on a 6x6 frame. Five days later, Lance Gunn of Wentworth took an enormous typical 10-pointer that has been green-scored well above the 180-inch mark.

Even after the primary rut had passed and December was dominated by unseasonably warm weather, hunters kept knocking off big bucks. Here are stories about a few of the kills, and a gallery of photos of other big bucks taken this past season:

Rutherford County hunter oversleeps, still scores on trophy

Butner hunter’s persistence pays off

Wilkes County trophy finally makes daylight appearance

Guilford County hunter finally takes big piebald buck 

Click here to read about other big North Carolina bucks killed this past season.