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Roland Walsingham, 56, has been hunting since he was 6 years old...

Much of his time in the field was spent in woods of his family-owned farm located “in the sand hills” near the tiny town of Wausau in Florida’s Panhandle.

Roland bagged his first turkey when he was 8 and took his first buck (a 6-point) in 1975. That first buck was killed in the same general area that produced the 2010-11 Florida “Buck of the Year” nearly 50 years later.

“When I first started hunting, there were no deer over here. It was in the 1970s before we started seeing some. When I first went hunting, in the 1960s, everyone would go to Eglin to hunt,” Roland said.

He has been hunting the same family land all of his life and knew it had the potential to produce big bucks after he killed a massive 9-point on New Year’s Eve 2007.

That buck’s typical rack featured a 15-6/8-inch inside spread and 22-inch main beams that helped it gross-score 148-4/8 inches and net only 138 inches – mainly due to a missing G4 on one side.

Roland’s 9-point finished #5 in the 2007-08 “Buck of the Year” contest, but Roland declined to submit photos or a story to Woods ‘n Water when he discovered that a 147-inch (net) typical would take the #1 spot.

Roland admits he was disappointed that the buck of his lifetime was not the biggest buck taken that season.

Just three years later, Roland’s lifetime of knowledge of the local woods paid off, as he got a rare second chance to take the “Buck of the Year” just a few days after Thanksgiving in 2010.

It was just the fourth day of the 2010-11 hunting season, and Roland had never spotted this massive buck before, although he had found some sign and had seen his tracks twice. “I saw this buck’s track where he crossed the creek and went through a hammock about a quarter-mile from where I killed him. It was the biggest track I have ever seen.

“My son Warren claimed it was made by a hog, but then I found an 8- to 10-inch pine he had hooked as I was on the way to check my stand two weeks before the season started. He tore it up pretty good. I hunted on Thanksgiving and Friday without seeing anything.

“On Saturday, right after daylight, two does came in. Then, about 9:30 a.m., I heard the woods behind me come alive. I could hear deer running through the brush, so I got up and turned around in my stand to see a doe running wide open with something following her.

“I raised up and had just enough time to get my Browning .30-06 ready. I saw an opening in the direction he was headed and made the shot with him on a dead run. I heard him crash in the woods about 30 yards later,” Roland said.

“It happened so fast, it was almost like it didn’t really happen. I never had a chance to get nervous.

“I pulled the trigger as soon as I saw him in the scope and hit him right in the shoulder. There was no time to get scared or shook up. When I finally did make it to him, I just had to sit down for a while and catch my breath...and admire him,” Roland said with a smile.

The buck weighed 200 pounds, and unlike Roland’s 2008 buck, this near-perfect 10-point rack (23-2/8-inch main beams, 5-inch brow tines, 7-6/8-inch G2s, towering 11-inch G3s and G4s that averaged 8 inches) was not missing a tine and had only 4 inches of deductions.

The typical rack measured 4-1/2 inches around at the bases and featured a 16-2/8 inside spread to help it gross 158 inches and net 154-0/8 inches, as scored by FWC’s Stan Kirkland.

It was quite an accomplishment for someone who describes himself as “a turkey hunter first, then a wingshooter and then a deer hunter.”

In fact, Roland had to schedule a cover photo shoot around his first-ever dove-hunting trip to Argentina. He smiled as he talked about the upcoming trip with his sons, Warren and John Michael.

“I‘ve been saving up for the last 4 or 5 years. I’ve always heard about how many birds they have, and I’m taking my two sons with me. I finally decided to do it, because you never know if you will have the chance if you wait too long.

“We are not promised tomorrow,” he added, sadly remembering the funeral of a neighbor killed in an ATV accident the previous Saturday.