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2007-08 Florida Buck of the Year

#3 Tom Carpenter


That is all that kept repeating in my mind as I watched the buck come out of the pines. Five hours earlier I had to force myself out of bed to go get on stand. I really wanted to lay around the camp that morning and drink coffee and cook breakfast for everyone, but finally decided to go and sit for a while.

It was already daylight when I left camp and on the way to my stand. I came across a guy I had worked with on a job out of gas on the side of the highway. He had his little daughter with him, so I couldn’t leave him there.

They loaded up in my truck, and we ran back to camp where I had some gas, then went back to his truck and got him going. I finally got to my parking spot in the pines, sprayed down extra good with scent killer, grabbed my gun, binoculars and backpack and started walking to my stand. I had tried to get my daughter Caitlyn to come with me that morning, but she had opted to sleep in.

It was now 7:15 a.m., and I was wondering if it was even worth the walk to the stand. “What the heck, I’m here, so I might as well sit for a while,” I told myself. I eased down the trail, and as I got close to the food plot I noticed movement, so I got on my knees and looked through the binoculars.

I could see deer running around in the food plot. I crawled to the end of the pine row and took another peek. There were a couple of young bucks and some does in the food plot. None of the bucks met our club’s Quality Deer Management (QDM) rule minimums, so there was no need in me getting too excited. The bucks kept switching between harassing one of the does and sparring, while the older does ate and the young ones played.

I crawled across the road, into the ditch and finished crawling to my condo stand. Once inside, I settled in and watched deer come and go for three solid hours. While watching the deer, I started thinking what a blessed year I had already had. I had killed two fine bucks, including a 9-point with a 15-inch inside spread that weighed 195 pounds and a 185-pound 8-point that had a 16-inch inside spread.

I was content with the 8-point at my taxidermy shop, and I didn’t expect to top either of the previous bucks this season. So, I just settled into watching the deer put on a show. The group of does finally left with the bucks in tow when a spike and a doe came running in. One of the other bucks (a small 8-point) came back and started messing around with the new doe. The 8-point and the spike started chasing her around, and I started thinking a more dominant buck should be in the area with all of this activity going on.

The 8-point and the spike started sparring when all of a sudden the doe looked into the pines and bolted! Then, the 8-point and the spike looked up and also bolted! I was straining through the binoculars looking into the pines, but couldn’t see anything. I looked and looked for about 10 minutes, but saw nothing. It was now 10:15 a.m., and I was getting ready to go. I picked up the binoculars one last time and spotted some movement way back in the pines.

“OH MY GOODNESS...WHAT A MONSTER!!!” It was all I could think of as he walked into the food plot. He stopped and quartered to me at about 175 yards, and only 10 yards from my bow stand. I picked up my T/C Encore .25-06 and put the cross hairs on him. “OH MY GOODNESS, WHAT A MONSTER!” Then, all sorts of things came to my mind. I was shooting some 120-grain hand loads I had worked up for the Encore, and it was dead-on out to 200 yards. Everything was running at 120 mph through my head.

“Oh no, he’s walking! Do something, and do it NOW! With the cross hairs fixed on the front of his right shoulder, I squeezed the trigger. I didn’t even hear the shot, but saw the buck jump, with his back humped and tail tucked. Then I saw him stumbling. I sat back to breathe, and then it hit me. Suddenly, I got all shaky and nervous.

“OH MY GOODNESS, I JUST SHOT A MONSTER!” I thought. I ejected the empty case and loaded another. I climbed down and started easing toward the spot, stopping, looking and praying. There in the edge of the pines I could see the white of his belly.

I ran over to him and got a good look at his horns. “OH MY GOODNESS, I JUST KILLED A MONSTER!!! THANK YOU LORD!!!!” I called my wife, Angie, and told her to meet me at the camp, adding that I had found something and she needed to see it. She told me I needed to come help her because she had shot at a big buck.

I convinced her to come to the camp first and then we would go back and look for hers. I got to the camp before her and pulled up to the cook shed. Everyone was eating breakfast. I walked in and Rich asked if I had seen anything. I told him I had a monster in the back of the truck. Everybody thought I was pulling their leg until Rich came back in with his eyes wide open and said, “YOU DID KILL A MONSTER!

Everybody went outside and looking at the buck when Angie drove up. She walked up to my truck and said, “OH MY GOODNESS, YOU KILLED A MONSTER!” Angie and Caitlyn helped me winch him up and weigh him. He looked really poor, but he was really long. We noticed his loose skin and how his ribs were starting to show. We were shocked, but happy, when the scales settled in at 180 pounds.

As the big buck hung from the skinning rack, Angie, Caitlyn and I stood back admiring him. Finally, Caitlyn turned to me and said, “MY GOODNESS DADDY, HE SURE IS A MONSTER!”