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Teen kills ‘The Ghost’ to win Youth Division

Brett Justin Smith, 14, of Castleberry, Alabama killed a monster Florida buck this past season while visiting his grandfather David Shepard, Sr. of Marianna, Fla. in Jackson County.

Brett’s amazing buck had been nicknamed “The Ghost” by his grandfather after he suffered through several seasons of frustration and bad luck – seeing and shooting at the monster several times.

Brett and his twin brother, Cody, had been looking forward to getting a chance to just see if “The Ghost” they had heard about even existed. On Jan. 19, while walking to his tree stand, Brett saw “The Ghost” standing in a food plot and hurriedly took a shot. After a brief search and seeing what appeared to be tracks leaving the area on a nearby road, Brett grew more and more certain he had missed.

He and his family had to return to Alabama that morning, where Brett relayed the agonizing story to his dad, including how disappointed he was – and how happy his twin, Cody, was that he still had a chance at the buck.

After hearing the details, Brett’s dad insisted they call his granddad and ask him to search for the buck again. Later that afternoon, Grandpa Shepard called to report, “The Ghost is dead!”

He had found the big buck lying 200 feet into the woods from where Brett had last seen him when he fired. Brett had made a perfect shot!

The family met Brett’s grandfather halfway that night to get his deer and returned April 18 to have it scored in Holt, Fla. The 8-point grossed 134-4/8 inches and netted 130-4/8 to rank as the highest-scoring typical taken by a hunter under the age of 16 last season.

Brett’s kill earned him the title of “Top Youth Buck” in the 2008-09 Florida “Buck of the Year” contest, which added four new categories this year.