Cactus Rack: N.C. Hunter Drills Trophy Buck From Unusual Stand

Justin Suggs displays a 17-point buck he shot Nov. 12, 2017, that may rank as N.C.'s No. 4 non-typical. (Photo courtesy of Justin Suggs)

The trophy buck had 17 non-typical points with an estimated 200-inch rack.

No one needs to harangue Justin Suggs of Alamance County that cow-horn whitetails should be taken out of the breeding pool.

Suggs, 33, an electrician from Swepsonville, had still-hunted an abandoned farm for four years where he and his relatives knew a big-bodied whitetail with two extra-long single tines might pass through.

By November 12, 2017, after the buck had sprouted 17 non-typical points, the electrical contractor dropped the cactus-rack monster with an estimated 200 inches of headgear.

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If the deer's preliminary score holds steady after a mandatory 60-day drying period, the buck will rank as the No. 4 non-typical killed in North Carolina records. In either case, the deer is the likeliest candidate to win the 2018 Dixie Deer Classic's non-typical gun category.

"Like everyone else, we thought we should get (a cow-horn buck) out of the gene pool, but it was hard to get a shot (at him)," Suggs said. "We saw him mostly on trail-camera (photos) taken at night. I saw him two or three times but at a long distance at the edges of woods lines. When I saw him walking fast alongside a cutover, he still had those crazy cow horns.

"Other people saw him (on trail cam photos during spring and summer). He had an in-velvet rack with a pre-drop (tine) in 2016 and a post-drop (tine in 2017). His spike horns were really long (each later measured at 2 feet), and he had all kinds of (11) sticker points."

On November 12, Suggs slipped into an unusual deer stand — an old tobacco curing barn converted for hunting.

Using a Thompson center-fire .308 with a 3x9x40 scope, he was hunting from the barn in which he, his uncle and grandfather had installed a floor in one corner facing a pine thicket bedding area next to an oak grove. They'd mowed three shooting lanes a hundred yards long through the pines and put corn in the lanes on the ground for deer. An overgrown field joined the edge of the oak grove and that's where Suggs first saw the buck.

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"We'd cut a window in the barn's side 20 feet off the ground and added a computer-room swivel chair," he said. "It also had a small heater and we had a drop-down window we could shoot out of when we they wanted to take a deer. We'd killed three nice bucks at this farm.

"But on this hunt, I really got lucky. All the pieces came together."

During a rainy, overcast morning, he'd hunted two hours at a different spot and saw small bucks, does and yearlings. In the afternoon, he walked to the barn, put on dry clothes and watched an 80-pound doe for 3½ to 4 hours, he said.

"At the last little bit of shooting light (near 5 p.m.), (the buck) popped out of the 5-foot-tall grass and headed straight for me (and the doe)," Suggs said. "I shot him almost straight down from the window. He fell in his tracks. The 140-grain Silvertip ballistic bullet destroyed his heart."

The buck's antlers featured 10-inch long G1s, a curved scimitar-looking left main beam and a 10-inch left-main beam drop tine that had reversed sides from 2016 to 2107.

"His testicles were the size of twp marbles, and he had no (rutting) stink to him," Suggs said. "His neck may have been swollen a little."

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The field-dressed deer weighed 195-pounds, which puts its live weight at 215 to 220 pounds.

"I couldn't lift him into my truck bed," the hunter said. "So I strapped him to a 6-foot ladder stand and tied one end up in my truck bed to sled him out of the woods. After I stopped, I picked up the back end of the ladder stand, lifted him up and slid him into the (truck) bed like an ambulance gurney with a person on it. I never could have pulled him straight into the bed by myself."

The deer had only five or six front teeth and its molars were ground down to the gums, he said, placing its age at probably eight to eight-plus years.

Suggs wore Mossy Oak Grand Camo outerwear and a ball cap, although he said he didn't need it in the barn.

"I like to wear it when I walk to the barn because it matches the woods colors, and I think it helps hide me from deer," he said.

As a cover scent, he placed Tink's 69 deer lure on a limb wick upwind from the barn.

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