Two Monster North Carolina Bucks

Two Monster North Carolina Bucks

It was a relatively short trip to deer-hunting fame for Buddie Atkins - and a long, winding one for Rusty Moore. But they're both in the record books now!

By Dan Kibler

There's nowhere to go but down for Buddie Adkins - and that doesn't bother him one bit. On the other hand, Rusty Moore has finally reached the top. And he's thrilled with the journey, too.

A 16-year-old sophomore at North Stokes High School, Adkins put himself up in high cotton last Nov. 30 when he bagged an enormous 10-point buck that qualified for the Boone and Crockett Club's all-time record book with a net typical score of 173 6/8 points. Only three North Carolina bucks in history are known to have scored higher, and hunters only took two of those - the third was found dead.

Even if he hunts another 40 years, Adkins will have trouble topping that feat.

Rusty Moore, on the other hand, had killed 63 deer with a bow and arrow before last Oct. 21, when he sent a broadhead through an enormous Guilford County buck, a 9-pointer with a sticker point and a drop tine that was big enough to score 155 2/8 points as a typical - the eighth-largest ever taken by a Tar Heel State bowhunter.

This one, he readily admits, was worth the wait.

The paths these hunters traveled to their big bucks were certainly different, but for both hunters the meat's in the freezer and the horns are on the wall. But how did they get there?

Buddie Atkins poses with the mount of his huge typical, the fourth largest ever recorded in North Carolina, and the third largest ever taken by a hunter. Buddie's father, Jerry Atkins, did the taxidermy work on the buck. Photo by Dan Kibler

For Adkins, the seeds were sown about five years ago, when his father, Jerry, came up with a little .410 shotgun for 11-year-old Buddie, and his deer-hunting career began. In the short period of time he'd been accompanying his dad into the woods, he'd killed three deer, but none close to what he was about to encounter. When he hit the woods near his home in Sandy Ridge on the morning of Nov. 30, he had no reason to believe that there was anything special in store. He'd hunted with a bow and blackpowder gun that season without success.

So Jerry gave Buddie his marching orders when they got to their hunting land - a relatively small piece of property that Jerry had been hunting for years. Take a stand on the side of a ravine, but don't look down to the creek bottom. Instead, look straight toward a thicket that's on one side of the steep hill.

Buddie headed in, but before he could find a tree to sit down against, he jumped two does. "That got me discouraged," he admitted. "I didn't think I'd see anything. I thought I'd blown the day. My daddy would go to this place and see deer, and he's killed a bunch of deer there, but I'd go the day after he went and not see any."

The day before, the Friday after Thanksgiving during the first week of the three-week gun season in Stokes County, Jerry had hunted the area and seen 10 deer, but he'd been sitting too low, too close to the creek, and the deer had slipped past him well up the side of the ravine.

That's what brought Buddie to higher ground, about 100 yards from the edge of the thicket. He sat down at the base of a tree, cleared the leaves from a big space so he could sit quietly, and he hunkered down just before 7 a.m.

"I thought I'd try rattling and grunting," Buddie said. "I was rattling, grunting, raking the leaves, then pausing for about 15 minutes."

It didn't take long. His initial rattling and grunting sequence drew the attention of a buck.

"When I paused the first time, I saw something walking in the thicket," Buddie said. "Then I saw him coming through the thicket; he was walking right on the edge of the woods. I gave him one good grunt because I thought if I kept grunting, he might pick me up."

Imagine, if you will, that you're 16 years old, and a big buck is walking directly toward you. Buddie got his gun up almost immediately. A left-hander, he was carrying a left-handed .270 bolt-action rifle, filled with 130-grain bullets and topped with a variable-power scope. He had the scope on 6.5 power, and as the buck approached him, it filled up more and more of the lens.

"I was going to wait till he got broadside to shoot him, but he kept walking right at me, and he walked to about 20 or 25 yards. I had the gun up, ready, waiting for him to turn broadside, and when he turned, I shot him," Buddie said.

Then the fun really began. The buck wheeled - in his direction - and bounded 10 yards closer. "I thought he was gonna charge me," Buddie said. "He was running straight toward me."

The buck stopped about 15 yards from Buddie, who fired again. This time, the buck turned and started to run away at an angle, and Buddie got off two more shots before it disappeared into the brush. The buck ran about 30 yards, then Buddie heard it fall. He got up, walked about halfway to the buck and put a finishing shot into its neck.

The buck was hit three times - with Buddie's first two shots and the one that finished it off. Buddie is fairly certain that neither of the shots he took at the deer while it was running hit their mark.

Buddie covered the last 15 yards to the buck, finally realizing exactly what he had down. "I was hollering and all kinds of stuff because he looked bigger on the ground than when he was walking."

Buddie headed back to his dad's pickup truck and waited until Jerry arrived. His father went to get a 4-wheeler to help get the buck out, and Buddie went back to the spot of the kill. "I wanted to sit with the deer. I didn't want anybody to steal it," he said.

And with good reason. The buck, which weighed 165 pounds, had an awesome set of antlers, extremely tall, symmetrical and beautifully shaped. Jerry Adkins, a part-time taxidermist, immediately classified the deer as a trophy, but even he had no idea it might make the Boone and Crockett Club - "until I put a tape on it."

Jerry scored the deer conservatively, coming up in the 172-point range. When they carried the buck to the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh last March, Dave Boland, an official Boone and Crockett Club scorer, taped the buck out at 173 6/8, making it the fourth-largest typical buck ever taken in North Carolina.

A near-perfect 10-pointer, Buddie Adkins' buck had an 18 1/2-inch inside spread, tremendous brow tines that both measured longer than 8 inches. The right antler

had two tines that both measured 11 5/8 inches, and the left-hand antler had tines that measured 13 6/8 and 10 5/8 inches. As big as the buck was, it had less than 6 points in deductions for lack of symmetry.

Now, for the big surprise. Jerry had removed the buck's lower jawbone, and he carried it with him to the Dixie Deer Classic, where he presented it to wildlife biologists with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. They judged the deer to be just 3 1/2 years old, unusually young for a record-book buck.

What was it doing in the little patch of woods that the Adkinses hunt?

"There had been a 9-pointer killed in there earlier in the week," Buddie said. "There are a bunch of rubs on the edge of the (thicket) every year, and a bunch of scrapes, but I didn't see any real big sign."

Jerry agreed. "There were just regular old buck rubs on little trees, nothing special. I'd hunted in there for years and had never seen anything like that. What I think happened is, this place we're hunting is between two paved roads that are about 1 1/2 miles apart. I think he was either just passing through, or he'd gotten real smart, real quick and came in there to hide."

He didn't hide well enough, though.

As for Rusty Moore, well, "Twenty-six years of hard work finally paid off," he said.

Moore, a resident of Gibsonville in eastern Guilford County, is a competition archer as well as a bowhunter; he competes in 3-D all over the Southeast. Before the fateful afternoon of Oct. 21, he had taken 63 deer with a bow, but he'd never gotten one that would score 125 points and qualify for the Pope and Young Club's all-time record book.

"A good friend of mind owns some land in northeast Guilford County, and he had videoed four nice bucks together the last week in August," Moore said. "He told me about them, and because he's getting older and doesn't hunt like he used to, he told me to come over and hunt. I've hunted there all my life.

"I did some scouting, but I never hunted this place until Oct. 16. The place I was hunting was real thick and right between two bedding areas. I'd seen a lot of deer sign, but not much buck sign. On Sunday, the day before I killed the buck, my youngest son (Travis, 15) and I were in there scouting. We found three big rubs and one big, fresh scrape. I told him it had to be one of those four big deer on the video.

"Monday morning when I went to work, it was overcast and rainy, and it was one of those times when the temperature dropped 12 to 14 degrees during the day. So while at work, I was thinking that he may come back and freshen that scrape after the rain."

After work, Moore carried a climbing stand into the area and wound up about 20 feet up in a poplar tree he'd pointed out the previous day to his son. As important as stand location or what kind of stand he was in, Moore had earlier hung a scent dispenser that would regularly release an aerosol burst of scent.

"A guy from Mississippi makes it; it's called Common Scents," Moore said. "It gives off a squirt of an aerosol synthetic scent every three minutes. It's completely airborne. I knew the idea would work if this guy's scent would work, and I'd used it earlier in bow season with their year-round attractant, Sweet Pee, which is a doe pee. I'd had pretty good success, killed a couple of does and had some small bucks come up to investigate. This time, I was using the Red Hot Doe scent.

"So a doe came up behind me, over my left shoulder, and had been feeding around the tree on acorns for about five or 10 minutes. When she got straight to the left of me, she was about 10 feet from that scent machine," Moore said. "I thought, if something starts happening, it's gonna be pretty quick, so I started to stand up. I was halfway up, and I had hooked my release on my bow, when I caught him out of the corner of my eye.

"He was coming directly to the doe, about 15 yards to her left. He was convinced she was in heat. He could see her, and he could smell that smell, and he put two and two together. Well, the doe took off; she didn't want any part of him, and he came along, and when he was right where she had been, I whistled as loud as I could. He stopped, and he was looking from side to side."

Moore drew his Matthews Q2-XL bow and he carefully took aim. "I shoot five (sight) pins on my bow because I shoot 3-D targets, and I made sure I counted all five pins as they come down his backbone," Moore said. "When I shot, the arrow disappeared right where I had my pin, right on the crease of his shoulder."

The buck bounded away, but Moore was confident. First, he felt he'd made a good shot. Second, his arrow was on the ground and through binoculars, he could see blood.

"It was 6:23 p.m. when I shot him, and it was getting dark around 7:05 or 7:10, so I sat and waited until after dark to get down. It didn't hit me until after I had made the shot, but I was shaking so bad I could hardly hold the binoculars to look at the arrow."

Moore finally climbed down, unhooked his tree stand and slipped out without even collecting his arrow. He didn't even turn on his flashlight as he headed back to his friend's house. "But I knew it was a good hit. I had two more does come in after I shot him, and when they got within 10 feet of that arrow, they spooked. I knew it was a good hit the way they smelled that arrow," he said.

Eventually, Moore and his friend came back to the spot where he'd shot the deer. He picked up his arrow and found a blood trail that a blind man could have followed. He said, "It was 3 feet wide. I tracked him about 35 or 40 yards, and there he was. The arrow had exited right where the brown and white hair meet; it was probably the best shot I've ever made.

"Well, we dragged the buck back to my friend's house, and from then on, it was just one picture after another. When we got to the deer, I said, 'That deer will go 140.' "

The buck easily scored 140, in fact, well above 140, and well above the 125-point Pope and Young minimum. "It was my 63rd deer with a bow, but my first Pope and Young. I had my sights set on one. I'd been to Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky trying to kill one. I guess that's what makes it mean so much more to me," he said.

Moore took the buck, which weighed 192 pounds on the hoof, to Ramon Bell, an official Pope and Young Club scorer who is also an official with the North Carolina Bowhunters Association of which Moore is a member. Bell taped the buck out at 155 2/8 typical and 162 6/8 non-typical, thanks to a sticker point and drop tine on the right antler. Moore chose to have it entered into the record books as a typical.

The buck had a typical 9-point frame - four points on the right antler and five on the left - plus the two sticker points on the right side. It had a 20 1/8-inch inside spread, and its four longest tines measured between 10 and 12 5/8 inches long.

"He wo

uld gross better as a non-typical, but he ended up better overall as a typical," Moore said. "One funny thing was, I never saw that drop tine (3 5/8 inches long) until I found him after he was dead. I don't know. I may have been high enough up in the tree so that looking downward at him it was pointing down and covered up."

According to the Wake County Wildlife Club's records from the Dixie Deer Classic, Moore's buck fits in as the No. 8 all-time typical. Moore said that it's the No. 1 all-time bow kill from Guilford County, a county that has produced several Boone and Crockett bucks over the past 15 years.

All in all, a buck well worth waiting for.

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