2 Big North Carolina Bow-Kill Bucks

2 Big  North Carolina Bow-Kill Bucks

The Tar Heel State's top archery bucks of last year fell to two hunters who made similar preparations before their hunts. (September 2009)

Stephen Galyean's patience and scouting eventually put him in position to arrow this big 14-point buck. The deer was the top entry in the Dixie Deer Classic for typical bow kills and scored 160 4/8.
Photo by Craig Holt.

Patience, scouting, food plots, choosing to sit in a high stand and the ability to hit what they aimed at were common factors for a couple of bowhunters who bagged two of the biggest Tar Heel bucks of 2008.

Stephen Galyean of Winston-Salem arrowed a 14-pointer that totaled 160 4/8 inches and captured the Dixie Deer Classic's top 2008 typical-rack prize. Charles Grantham of Raleigh nailed a wide-racked 9-point (5x4 rack) that gross-scored 140 3/8 non-typical inches (it officially was rated as a 135 4/8-inch typical at the Classic).

The Wake County Wildlife Club, which sponsors the Classic, categorizes bucks as either typical or non-typical by how close rack scores are to Boone-and-Crockett "book" minimums. Galyean's deer was 9 1/2 inches shy of being a "book" typical (170-inch minimum), while Grantham's deer lacked 25 inches of antler to reach the 170-inch typical mark but needed 46 1/2 inches to be classified as a book non-typical.

About the only differences in the hunting practices of the two men were the locations and months when they put their trophies on the ground: Grantham arrowed his deer during early September at Vance County, while Galyean waited until mid-October to drop his Stokes County prize.

Grantham, 44, a builder who sells residential and commercial real estate and is a part-time farmer, has several properties scattered from Vance to Northampton counties. He hunts at each one of them.

"The bigger farm is in Northampton County on the Roanoke River (1,650 acres)," he said.

He killed a 10-point buck the club named "G-2" that sported 150 4/8 inches of antlers there during November 2008 after taking his big bow buck.

"The archery buck I killed at property in Vance County early September last year," he said.

Grantham had watched the big 9-pointer grow from a spindly 6-point buck in 2006 to a decent 8-pointer during 2007. He estimated the buck was probably 2 1/2 years old during 2006.

"I had trail camera photos of him, mostly taken at night," he said. "I never had a chance to shoot him, but I wouldn't have done that anyway, because he was too small, too young, body-weight wise. We manage strictly for 3 1/2-year-old bucks and up.

"But in 2008, he absolutely exploded and became so much more massive. His G-2s were close to 14 inches or better on both sides."

The Vance County acreage that was home to Grantham's big 9-pointer contained only 68 acres.

"I acquired the property mainly for timber, but I always had in mind I wanted to hunt there," said Grantham, who gained the land eight years ago. "I have food plots at all my properties."

He plants clover, chicory, cowpeas, sunflower, grain sorghum and soybeans at the plots.

"It's food for deer, turkeys and whatnot," he said. "I don't manage the land just for deer."

His stand, he said, was a Tree Lounge Lok-On style he placed 35 feet high.

"I like my stands to be a good distance so deer can't smell me as easily regardless of the wind direction or the amount of scent elimination practices being used -- and you can see more, too," Grantham said. "I've got some rifle stands 45 or 50 feet off the ground."

Because the stands are so far above the forest floor, Grantham must be a supremely capable shot with a bow. He hones his aim with steady practice, beginning during July.

"I like to shoot off my back porch," he said. "I shoot through openings in bushes and vines to get used to what I'll see in the woods."

Three weeks before September archery season begins, he switches out his field points and practices with broadheads. No matter if field points and broadheads weigh the same, arrows with differently shaped tips won't have identical impact points, he said.

Grantham didn't locate his stand near the edge of one of the Vance food plots. Instead, he secured it to a forked gum tree atop a hardwood ridge that served as a funnel between two fields.

"The food plots were on each side of the stand," he said. "I placed at a 'pinch point' between (the plots)."

As well as not being a random stand site, it also wasn't a recent selection.

"I'd already killed three 120- to 130-class bucks out of that same stand the last three years, all within 100 yards of each other," he said. "I knew it was a good spot. There's a deer bedding area a little farther away."

Grantham hunted in Northampton County that morning and headed to Vance County that afternoon, leaving a little after lunch. The drive took about two hours; he reached his tree stand about 3 p.m. that day.

"The mosquitoes were bad because it was hot," said Grantham, who was dressed in full camouflage, including a facemask and gloves. He also kept the insects at bay by using a commercial mosquito repellent made for hunters.

"About 10 or 15 minutes before the light was gone, the buck appeared and ran off several smaller bucks."

When Grantham saw this buck a few days earlier, it chased away a smaller buck, then got into a loud sparring match with another buck Grantham didn't see.

"This buck clearly had become a dominant buck in the area by age 4 1/2," he said. "He also had begun to show signs of aggression during 2007 as indicated by his tattered right ear."

Then the high-tined 9-pointer walked within bow range of the well-prepared hunter.

His bow is a Mathews XT compound set at 72 pounds draw weight and holding a Carbon Express arrow tipped with a 100-grain, fixed-blade Muzzy broadhead. With this setup, Grantham only uses two sight pins, one for 30 yards and less and the other for 30- to 45-yard shots.

"(The buck) was quartering away from me pretty severely when I shot h

im at about 14 yards," he said.

The arrow struck the buck behind the back rib on its right side, traversed its body cavity and the broadhead buried in the deer's left shoulder. The arrow didn't exit the buck.

"I didn't know how far the buck had gone at the time of the shot, which I knew was a good one, so I waited to be on the safe side until well past dark to take up the trail," Grantham said. "He only ran a little way, maybe 90 or 100 yards down into a steep ravine and piled up."

The buck's main beams were 22 6/8 and 24 4/8 inches and the long G-2s measured 14 3/8 and 13 6/8 inches, respectively.

"This buck, that we called the Long G-2 buck, went from a being a 3 1/2-year-old 120-inch gross maximum deer in 2007 to a 140-inch deer in one year," Grantham said. "The deer I killed in November also was just barely 120 inches in 2007, and he went to 150 4/8 inches gross, so that's an increase of 30 inches (of antler) in just one year."

He noted the archery buck also had added a lot of body weight.

"I don't think this deer weighed but about 160 pounds in 2006, but by the time it was 2008, he must have weighed close to 200 pounds," Grantham said.

By using his doe tags and DMAP tags, plus free extra tags offered by the WRC, Grantham said he also killed 21 does in 2008.

"I kill 'em early in the season so there won't be that many (does) around during the rut," he said. "It keeps the bucks moving if there's not that many does in late October and early November.

"(Herd thinning) is what it takes to keep our deer herd in good shape. After practicing Quality Deer Management for nine years, I can guarantee it works."

Grantham said his Northampton hunt club is seeking a few more members who are willing to pay a seasonal fee, follow club rules and QDM practices, plus work at least 40 hours doing various tasks at the farm as needed. He can be reached by letter at 2912 Elmgate Way, Raleigh, N.C. 27614.

The Gaylean Buck
Gaylean, 43, a Winston-Salem-based landscaper, admitted he was a little more fortunate than Grantham last year.

He didn't have as much real estate to hunt as Grantham, so he didn't have nearly the number of whitetails from which to choose. But he still employed good scouting and enough practice with his bow to have the proficiency to drop a prize when the opportunity presented itself.

And like Grantham, Gaylean battled mosquitoes from his highly-elevated stand because the day he shot his buck, Oct. 13, 2008, was unusually warm, and the little flying vampires were out and about.

His 17-pointer's rack totaled 172 6/8 gross inches and 160 4/8 net inches.

"I'd never killed a Forsyth County deer like this," he said. "The best I ever killed before was a 9-pointer."

Galyean, who has been a deer hunter for about 15 years, got a late start that fateful day.

"I got into the woods about 5:30 p.m. after work," he said.

He had clambered into a deer stand that was at the side of a hardwood slope near a field that had sprouted a thick crop of small poplars. The woods at the opposite side of the field had been logged and were used as a bedding area by the local deer herd.

Galyean had made several scouting trips to the area and discovered several trees 2 to 6 inches in diameter with large rubs. He'd also found five or six large scrapes.

Bucks, walking their territories, will scent-check scrapes from downwind, hoping to catch the aroma of estrous does. So downwind of scrapes is a good place for bowhunters to place tree stands.

Galyean said he had put his Loc-On portable stand "about 30 to 40 feet" off the ground in a big poplar.

"I was back in the woods near the corner of the old field, about 35 yards from the corner," he said.

To increase his chances at seeing whitetails, during the spring of 2008, Galyean had cultivated a patch of land in the field and created a food plot. Food plots, like scrapes, not only attract does but lure bucks that are looking for receptive female deer.

"I planted clover, rape and some other stuff in that plot," he said.

To cover all the bases, Galyean also put apples on the ground in the plot and had toted a couple of mechanical corn feeders into the field. Periodically, Grantham refreshed those feeders with shelled corn.

"I'd been putting out apples and corn for these deer since May," he said.

Like Grantham, he also believed in placing his stand high enough to avoid being detected by the extremely acute sense of smell of whitetails. Also, the terrain at the stand's location near the field dictated placing his bow stand at nose-bleed height.

"(The tree where he hung his stand) was on the side of a hill, and the overgrown field and my food plot were above me," he said. "When the deer left the field and came down the trail where I'd put my stand, they'd be almost at eye level with me in that tree.

"And that's exactly what happened with this buck."

Galyean, dressed in Scent Lok camouflage hunting jacket and shirt, was perspiring heavily because of the heat. He waited for a couple of hours, then saw a pair of does -- obviously being chased by something -- bolt through the field.

"They were actin' kinda crazy," Galyean said. "They didn't come to the feeders."

However, the hunter was just about ready to call it a day because he'd seen no other whitetails, and long shadows were creeping over the landscape. Grantham had collected his bow and other equipment and prepared to lower his essentials to the ground with a rope.

Galyean had put his range-finder and binoculars into his backpack. He'd already started to lower his PSE Firestorm Light compound bow toward the forest floor when the situation changed rapidly.

"I'd dropped my bow halfway down the tree, and I'd even coughed twice," he said.

Then the big buck he'd been waiting for jumped a fence and walked into the poplar-strewn field and began to stride toward the food plot.

Galyean watched closely as the large whitetail investigated one feeder, checked the ground, then headed toward the second feeder about 35 yards from the anxious hunter.

Then the deer lowered his head and began to crunch tasty morsels of corn.

"I pulled my bow slowly back up the tree, trying to be as quiet as possible and not bang it on anything," he said.

Once he'd held his weapon in his hands, Galyean fitted an arrow onto the string, and then drew back the bowstring, trying to hold the sight pin on the buck's left shoulder. But he discovered he was having trouble keeping his pin steady enough to take the shot.

"I was shakin' all over," he said. "I did what everybody says you should do and took my eyes off his horns, then I took a deep breath. I had the 40-yard sight at the top of his shoulder and hit him center at 35 yards.

"The arrow (a Wolverine Hunter carbon bolt fitted with a 125-grain Muzzy broadhead) went in behind his shoulder and through both lungs, but it didn't come out the other side."

The buck, Galyean said, jumped 6 feet vertically in the air, then turned and crashed through a rusted barbed-wire fence.

The hunter didn't move for an estimated 20 minutes, then he quietly climbed down the tree after lowering the bow a second time.

"I walked over to where I thought I'd hit him and found a couple of drops of blood near the fence," Galyean said.

Not immediately spying the buck in the darkened woods and not wanting to spook the deer into running a mile, the hunter backed away and walked to his truck. He drove to his home and waited an hour and a half before deciding to return.

"I found (the buck) lying on his side in the woods about 75 yards from where I hit him," Galyean said.

He'd asked two friends, Jake Scoffer and Steve Davis, to return to the field and help him search for his prize. They helped him drag the buck out of the woods.

The deer's rack, prepared by Gray Saylor at Tobaccoville's Buck Stop Taxidermy, had main beams of 25 5/8 and 26 1/8 inches, G-1s of 5 0/8 and 5 5/8 inches, G-2s of 10 5/8 and 10 6/8, G-3s of 7 0/8 and 9 0/8, G-4s of 7 4/8 and 6 5/8, and a 1 5/8-inch G-5. Circumference measurements were 5 0/8 and 4 7/8, 4 1/8 and 3 7/8, 5 5/8 and 5 5/8, 5 4/8 and 5 0/8 and 4 2/8 inches, respectively. Three abnormal points totaled 5 4/8 inches.

The inside spread of the rack measured 17 4/8 inches.

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