Ben Pearson had only killed two bucks in his life, and it had been four years since he’d shot his last one, a 120-inch 11-point, with a bow.
“I just hadn’t seen anything since then big enough that I wanted to shoot,” said the 23-year-old electrician from West Point. “You know what though, I feel like it paid off for me.”
Boy, did, it ever.
On Sunday, Nov. 26, Pearson killed a 16-point buck with impressive palmation, roughly green scoring over 167 inches gross, hunting on a small piece of property owned by his uncle in Monroe County.
Yet to be green scored by an official scorer, which Pearson said would be needed to judge what is what on the palmated antlers, the buck is 19 inches wide and the right main beam is 13 6/8 inches in circumference at the widest point.
“Amazing,” Pearson said.
The same word could be used to describe the entire process behind the taking of the buck.
“I run cameras pretty much all year on my grandparents’ property, but I didn’t have pictures of deer worth talking about, maybe three deer total,” Pearson said. “My Uncle George lives on about 11 acres across the road from them, and I asked him if I could hang a camera back behind his house. He gave me permission and I put the camera up on Nov. 12. I went back to put a ground blind up on the 15th and I checked the camera.
“I was standing next to the camera checking the card on my iPhone when I saw the first picture of him, so I immediately left. I back out of there so I couldn’t mess him up.”
The opportunity to hunt the buck didn’t come until Thanksgiving week.
“The wind wasn’t right on Thanksgiving, it was a south wind, that wasn’t good for that three-acre field, so I didn’t hunt it Thursday or Friday, and went on Saturday,” Pearson said. “I saw two bucks on Saturday but I passed on them. The wind was right so I went back on Sunday afternoon.
“I rattled some old antlers a few times around 4:45 and he came out at about 5:10, in the far corner of the field about 200 yards away. He stuck his head up like he was looking for what was in his field. I shot him 10 seconds later.”
It was the first shot at a deer with his new rifle, and Pearson made it count.
“I got a new Winchester XPR 6.5 rifle for my birthday in August, and I sighted it in the week before the gun season,” he said. “I was shooting a Hornady 143 grain precision ammo.”
That the buck came from an 11-acre piece of property is also amazing.
“I know the neighbors that hunt the adjacent property and I know they didn’t have any photos of this buck either,” Pearson said. “I really think he lived his whole life, at least the last couple of years of it, just living in that big thicket on my uncle’s property. It’s mostly briars and browse with a creek bottom back there.”
There were some available groceries, too.
“When I showed the photos to my Uncle George, he said he’d seen that buck in his vegetable garden a couple of times this summer,” Pearson said. “It’s a farm but he has about a half-acre vegetable garden right there next to his house.”
Pearson said he’s 95 percent sure he had photos from the buck, two years ago behind his grandparents’ house just across the road.
“He was a 9-point back then, but he had the palmation and he had that same sticker point on the right side that was prominent this year,” he said. “He has a similar body, looks the same, but of course he had more antler this year.”
Pearson said he was stunned at the amount of deer on the small property.
“He was the 12th deer I saw that Sunday afternoon,” he said. “One of the other two bucks I saw in there on Saturday, I’d probably shoot him if I hadn’t shot this big one. Instead, I think I will let my girlfriend shoot it.”
For the patient Pearson, that might be another smart move that may pay off down the line.
Click here to read other big-buck stories from this season.