Michael Herron's North Carolina Opening Day Monster
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||September 10, 2022|
|Place:||Alamance County, North Carolina|
North Carolina isn't a state that's exactly known for producing big deer, but bowhunter Michael Herron regularly kills bucks that would turn heads in any state, including a few that score over 160 inches. I'm single. No kids. Bowhunting is what I do with just about all of my free time in the fall. If I'm not hunting, I'm scouting or preparing to hunt, Herron said.
All that hard work pays off. This year, Herron's cameras turned up a big nontypical of sorts. The buck sported a typical frame, but both main beams ended in a cluster of short points. I don't know if it was an injury or insect damage of some sort or what, but I knew right away that this would be the most unusual buck I had ever taken if I could get it done, Herron said.
The buck was on a small piece of property that Herron had been able to hunt for years. This little 30-acre spot has held some nice bucks over the years, but doesn't always have a shooter every season, Herron said. Last year was one of those off years. Even though Herron regularly checked cameras, he never saw a buck that interested him. The biggest buck was a clean 120-inch 8-pointer that Herron decided to leave alone in hopes that it would grow into something special this year. I think that letting bucks get old is the most important part of getting a trophy deer, even more than nutrition, Herron said.
In August, Herron put out cameras on the property just like he always did. At the first camera check, the second photo he saw was the big buck with the messed up main beams. I had other deer on camera on other properties, but I really wanted to kill this one because he was so unusual, Herron said. Michael soon realized that this was the 8-pointer from last year, only with a larger rack and an odd deformity on each beam.
Summer turned into fall and the buck was a regular at the camera location, often showing up two to three times a day. Herron slipped in midday about two weeks before the September 10 opener and hung a stand. A few days later, the buck shed his velvet and soon disappeared. He was gone for 9 to 10 days, causing Herron to be concerned that he had left the area. Fortunately for Herron, the buck showed up again in the week leading to the opener. That's all Herron needed to be in the stand on opening day.
With heavy rain in the forecast, Herron got in the stand early. He'd been there for about 45 minutes when his buck's usual running buddy showed up. Soon after, a doe and fawn arrived. I was sitting there watching the deer in front of me, thinking the buck would show any minute," Herron said. Herron was on high alert. Soon, he heard a noise and looked up to see a pair of squirrels chasing each other. The squirrels ran through the deer, spooking them all back into the cover.
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Then it started to rain. It came down so hard that Herron could only pull the hood of his rain jacket down over his face and hunker against the tree. After sitting in the rain for a while, Herron checked the radar on his phone. It said the rain would end in 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes of more rain, he again checked the radar. It still said the rain would end in 15 minutes. Herron knew that if the rain ended before dark, the deer would be on their feet.
Finally, the rain let up. There was about an hour of daylight remaining. Ten minutes after the rain stopped, Herron looked up to see the buck headed his way. The deer stopped at 38 yards, giving Herron a slight quartering-to shot. He held tight to the buck's shoulder and released the arrow. The shot looked good, but Herron was a little worried that he had hit the shoulder blade. After a bit, he got down and unsuccessfully searched for his arrow.
Herron backed out and called his hunting buddies. Once three of them arrived, they gathered flashlights and headed back to Herron's stand. Before they could get there, the skies opened up with heavy rain again. Herron was worried that any blood trail would be washed away.
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Once the rain stopped, the four walked in to search for the buck. After following the trail the buck had taken, the hunters soon found blood. Even with all the rain, the blood trail was still surprisingly heavy and easy to follow, Herron said.
The buck had gone about 60 yards. After putting a tape to the rack, Herron came up with 152 inches, but admits that the clumps of points at the ends of the main beams will be up to the interpretation of the scorer. There will be bigger bucks killed in North Carolina this season, but I don't there there will be any cooler, Herron said.
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