Susan Adams’ two-year pursuit of the biggest deer ever seen at her Carroll County hunting camp took more twists and turns than one of those creepy NASCAR road courses.
She reached the finish line on Jan. 2 when the 166 7/8-inch (gross) buck stepped into gun range and she put the mainframe 10-point with two sticker points down.
“We’ve had trail cam photos, my husband John and I did, for two seasons on one area of our camp in the hills of Carroll County,” Adams said. “It was in a particularly difficult area to hunt, with lots of hills and ridges, thick brush and all that. It is not fun to hunt.
“We didn’t tell any of the other members about it, and I bet they wondered why I kept hunting that area day after day. I’m a hunter. I hunt with a bow, with a gun and with a muzzle-loader, and every day I’m not working, I’m out there.”
During the 2013-14 season, when the buck was a mainframe 11, the couple started getting photos, always at night, on three different cameras in that one gnarly area.
The hunt was on.
“But, we never saw him last year from a stand,” she said.
When the 2014-15 season began in October, the chase resumed. The buck started showing up on the cams again, still mostly at night, in the same area, but never stepped into the open in daylight when one of the Adams’ was around.
November came, and then December, and the Adams’ kept hunting and the buck kept winning.
“Then on Dec. 11, I had to have surgery (on her female parts),” Adams said. “The doctor told me to take it easy. I told him I was hunting and he said I shouldn’t shoot for two weeks. But I kept going and sitting with my son; he’s 12. I was only working part time for two weeks and I’d work in the mornings and we’d go to the stand in the afternoon.”
But the surgery wasn’t the worst thing that happened on Dec. 11, Adams said.
“That was also the day that we lost 720 acres of our camp to another group, and that 720 acres was right up against where we were hunting that big buck,” she said. “John and I were worried about that, a lot, and it only got worse when one night at camp when we were all sitting around the fire, one of our members came out and started showing a photo that he’d been sent by one of the members of the other club that got the 720 acres.
“He was shouting, ‘Y’all ain’t gonna believe the buck they’ve got photos of on that property.’ Well, John and I started hyperventilating. It was our buck and we just knew that other club was going to kill him because it was right there were we were hunting.”
On Jan. 2, still weakened from surgery, Adams was back at the C&P Hunting Club and eager to hunt.
“I was supposed to hunt with my son, but his Grandma came by the camp and asked him if he wanted to go home with her,” she said. “Dillon's young and at that point when if he goes a few times and doesn’t see a buck, he loses interest, so he went with her. That meant I could go to the stand by myself.
“John drove me back in there to the stand on our Ranger. I’d walked in there the week before and I was still hurting so I knew I didn’t need to do that again. He drove me in and then went to his stand a couple of ridges and a few hundred yards over.”
She got into the shooting house at 3:30 and settled in. It had been a rainy and mostly miserable day, but was clearing. Adams said it was muddy and nasty, but the wind was out of the east and perfect for her position.
“At 5:10, he came out into some trees about 100 yards from my stand,” she said. “It was right where we had one of our cameras where we had been getting photos of him. As a matter of fact at 5:18, we got another picture of him. It’s not very clear but it was definitely him.”
Two minutes later, at 5:20, Adams put the buck down with one shot from her .308 bolt-action Browning.
“When he stepped out, he stopped right behind a tree and just stood there for 10 minutes,” she said. “That was the longest 10 minutes, I tell you. All I could see was his head and his rear end. The tree blocked his body. It was the hardest thing to do, sit there and not shoot. And, I knew it was him. I couldn’t see his antlers completely, behind the tree but I saw enough to know it. We just don’t see bucks up there like that. Never.”
The agony finally ended when the buck took one last step, exposing more of its front end.
“Finally, he took a step and I put the scope on what I thought was his shoulder but it was his neck,” she said. “I pulled the trigger and he went down in a pile.
“We always take shoulder shots because it’s so hilly and tough in there and we want them to go down. The neck shot did the trick, too.”
Immediately, her phone flashed with a text from John.
“He sent me a text that simply said, ‘Well …’ and I texted him back, ‘It’s him and he’s on the ground,’” she said. “He left his stand immediately and came over to help. The buck was right where I shot him, and what’s neat about it, when we were down there and John was taking pictures of me and the buck, the trail cam got a picture of us. It’s a neat photo.”
And, it provided a neat end to the two-year chase.
The buck, scored by longtime B&C scorer Corey Neill of nearby McCarley, was tall and thick with both main beams exceeding 24 inches. The longest points were a 12-inch left G3 and an 11 2/8-inch right G2.
“I like the mass, which was 5 7/8 and 5 5/8 inches at the base and it carried out to the end with only one measurement under 4 inches,” Adams said. “I guess if there is one disappointing aspect it would be the spread. It was only 15 6/8 inches, but what hurt it was that both main beams had this ridge that stuck out that cost me at least an inch or two.
“But I’m not complaining. It’s the biggest buck I’ve ever seen.”
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Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.