Zack Laws and the guys in his hunt club in the mountains of Avery County, N.C., took on a management plan a couple of years ago that included letting young bucks walk, hoping to have more trophies on their ridges and in their hollers.
Laws proved on Nov. 29 that the management plan works. He dropped a huge, 18-point non-typical that weighed 207 pounds.
“This was the first time anybody had seen him in daylight, at least during the season,” said Laws, a 21-year-old resident of Newland, N.C. “We had one photo of him at 5:30 in the afternoon, but it was before the season started. All the rest of our pictures were at 9 and 12 o’clock at night.”
Laws and several hunters had trail camera photos of the buck over the past three to four seasons, covering an area about two miles long and wide.
He got in his stand the afternoon of Nov. 29 around 3 p.m. and waited. He got a text from his father at 4:13, and a few minutes later, he heard noise in the woods to the right of his treestand, which was overlooking several trails and a corn pile.
“I started hearing movement to my right side, and I looked and there he is,” Laws said. “At first, I didn’t realize it was him. He was about 70 yards away and coming in from the side. i could only see the left side of his antlers, but the mass and the body was was like a moose walking into my area.”
Laws waited until the buck walked behind a tree, then raised his .308 Thompson-Center rifle, cocked the hammer and waited. When the buck took a couple of more steps, its head went behind another tree, but it left Laws with a perfect broadside shot, and he took it.
“He fell in his tracks,” he said. “He laid there, and then moved (and) I immediately put another shell in my gun in case. He moved maybe 5 yards down the hill, then never moved again.”
Laws said the only “ground shrinkage” the buck suffered between its trail camera photos and when he walked up to it was bodily.
“In the trail-camera photos, he looked like he weighed 240 or 250 pounds, but he’d been in the rut,” Laws said. “The photos of him we had did no justice (to his antlers).
Laws’ buck carried a 5x4 main-frame rack with a 21 3/4-inch outside spread and 23 total points, 18 of them at least an inch long. The brow tines are really special; the left-side brow tine is split into four points; the right-side brow tine has three points. Laws got a former Boone & Crockett Club scorer to put a tape measure on the buck, and it scored 169 3/8 gross as a non-typical and 158 1/4 net as a typical.
“I just got lucky to be there when he came out in daylight,” Laws said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”