On Oct. 28, one week after securing permission to hunt a new property near his home in Chatham County, Blaine Sturdivant of White Cross, N.C. killed a 143-inch 8-point buck on his initial hunting trip to the location. The buck’s rack had an 18-inch inside spread and G2s that measured 12 inches in length.

Work and family life drives 90 percent of Sturdivant’s weekly schedule, so even though he has other places to hunt, he was happy to find this place since it’s closer to home and eats up less time traveling there. This past Sunday, he was eager to hit the land for the first time and do a little scouting, set up a stand, and maybe hunt a few hours.

“There was a cold front pushing through, and I figured it would be a good time to figure out where the deer were coming and going. It was more of a scouting-type of hunt — or so I thought,” he said.

Sturdivant arrived at the property around 2 p.m. with a climbing stand, rangefinder, and his .50 caliber CVA Optima V2 muzzleloader. Within 30 minutes on the property, he’d found some fresh rubs and other signs that led him to pick out an oak tree on top of a ridge. He attached his stand and got situated for the hunt, which started off slow.

“I felt really good about the setup, but after almost four hours, I hadn’t seen anything yet, and then a doe walked out,” he said.

The doe, which Sturdivant ranged at 127 yards, appeared very nervous.

“The wind was perfect though, and I knew it wasn’t scent that was making her agitated,” he said.

The doe eased away after a few minutes, disappearing into the cover of the woodlands. Sturdivant kept his eyes peeled on the trail, and five minutes later, he turned and saw a wide, tall-tined buck walking at a steady pace toward where the doe had traveled. He had to act fast.

“I shouldered my gun, found him in the scope, and bleated to get him to stop,” he said. “When he stopped, I center punched him and a huge cloud of smoke filled the air. I wasn’t sure if I had hit him or not, and I started shaking violently. It happened so fast.”

Although he pulled the trigger less than 15 seconds after first spotting the buck, he made a perfect heart shot. The deer only made it 10 yards before hitting the dirt. 

Sturdivant prides himself on how much time and effort he puts into hunting every season, but this was different.

“I had never been here before, never scouted, no corn, no cameras, and it worked out like that. It was a good day and I got lucky. I happened to be in there at the right time,” he said.