"They were all giving me a hard time, saying I was the lucky one this year because I was killing deer and seeing all kinds of deer," Braley told MS-Sportsman.com. "So they said, 'You can't kill anything unless it's a monster.'"
So when the sun came up Thursday (Dec. 17), Braley had been duly chastised. And he couldn't help but think about the razzing he was taking when he saw his first deer.
"As soon as I pulled my gun up with my string and gotten it situated on the stand so I didn't have to hold it the whole hunt, here come two deer," he said. "I can't tell what they are because it's so dark; I can just see the outline of their bodies."
The deer turned out to be yearlings, which fed nearby for about an hour before easing into a cane thicket at the bottom of the draw over which Braley was watching.
Shortly thereafter, Braley heard a shot from across the ridge and knew his buddy had shot at something a few hundred yards away.
And in less than a minute, the hunter's adrenaline spiked
"I heard the God-awfulest chrashing coming through the woods," Braley said. "Something was coming through cane thicket."
He stood up and held his rifle, and out popped two does.
"They stopped, and started feeding," Braley said. "I could hear some rumbling in the thicket behind them, but nothing came out.
Within 10 minutes, the does were just yards to the right of Braley's stand site and the hunter was worried about being busted.
"I didn't look them in the eye," he explained. "I turned my head, and was watching out the corner of my eye."
However, it wasn't long before the does realized something wasn't right and began inspecting the tree in which Braley sat.
"I just turned my head real slow, and started looking at the thicket," he said.
And that's when a huge buck emerged.
"I saw him bust out of that cane thicket and jump up on top of a little knoll," Braley said. "I thought, 'Oh my God, it's huge.'"
But there was nothing Braley could do because the deer was looking at the does, which meant the animal was looking directly in the hunter's direction.
The buck didn't stand on the small hill long, walking directly toward the does and the amazed hunter.
"He was about 60 yards when he started walking toward me, and he closed to about 30 yards with a tree directly in between us," Braley said. "All I'm looking at is horns on one side of the tree and horns on the other side of the tree coming to me."
And he didn't know if he'd even get a shot.
"I just knew the does were going to blow, and when they did he was going to run off," Braley said. "So I just eased my rifle up."
That caught the attention of the does, one of which stomped its foot.
"When that deer stomped, the buck looked around that tree, and that's when I shot him," Braley said. "I shot it in the neck."
That's when he realized just how big the deer was.
"I knew he was big, but when I shot and the whole body fell into the (view of the) scope, I was like, 'Holy crap!'
"I started to jump, but was then like, 'No, I'm 20 feet up in the air: Don't jump.'"
The 233-pound deer boasted a 12-point calcium crown, with tall, thick tines arrayed around stout main beams. The inside spread measured 19 6/8, and the bases of the rack were about 5 inches around.
The rack has been scored at between 161 and 176 inches by two different scorers.
Braley said the kill allowed him to have the last laugh about his supposed lucky season.
"I just think it's funny that, when I went in the woods, it was understood that I wasn't going to kill anything but a monster and this deer walked out," Braley said.