Sometimes things are better on your own side of the barbed wire.
By Taylor Wilson
Brownsville, Tenn., deer hunter Vance Holmes began the morning of Nov. 26, 2005, like most – unsure what the day’s hunt would bring. His nephew Eric Holmes was tagging along.
Eric, who was visiting from Richmond, Ind., had never been deer hunting before, and as it turned out on this day … well, he certainly picked a good time to start.
Vance was hunting in south Haywood County on a farm that happened to adjoin a high-fenced area built to help produce big bucks for the neighboring landowner.
“I had been hunting close to that fence, but I had to move my stand,” Vance said. “I soon realized that I was spending too much time watching and wondering what was happening on the other side of the fence, so much so that I was letting deer slip by on my own hunting area,” Vance laughed.
Since Eric was new to the game, Vance decided they should stay fairly close. In fact, they were hunting on the ground within sight of each other when a massive buck walked up.
“Yeah, I saw the whole thing,” Eric would later recall. “That big buck walked up, and I couldn’t believe it.”
Though the first-timer might have been a little rack-rattled, this wasn’t the case with the elder Holmes, who promptly shot and dropped the buck.
“That’s when Vance threw his arms up and said, ‘Let’s get this party started!’” laughed Eric.
And a party it was. There were certainly a lot of people that wanted to help the Holmes celebrate.
“I have been deer hunting for 20 years and have shot some pretty good bucks … some 8-pointers and deer like that … but never one like this,” Vance said.
The buck sported 11 points, including double drop tines that could have easily been mistaken as eye guards. It had an estimated live weight of 200 pounds.
After field-dressing the buck, Vance and Eric hauled it into Vance’s pickup bed. And there, the buck looked even bigger. Resting on the tailgate, one got a tail-wagging-the-dog feeling, as the deer seemed to wear the truck rather than vice-versa. And so it appeared as the duo made their way to the Sportsman’s Connection, a local sporting goods store and big game check-in station.
“We were there for hours,” Vance said. “It was a bit overwhelming. I knew people, especially hunters, liked to look a big deer, but not like this. People went a little crazy. They were pulling over, asking all kinds of questions, taking photos and calling friends on their mobile phones to get them to come up and have a look. Every time we were about to leave, somebody else would come up and begin asking a lot of questions. It was crazy, but in a good way, of course.”
An unofficial green score at the check-in station had the buck scoring well into the 170s and perhaps the 180s on the B&C scale. Therefore, it was somewhat disappointing when Buckmasters Trophy Records (BTR) scorer Brent Osborne, Dyersburg, Tenn., came to Vance’s hometown a month later to score the buck, with a final tally of 167 4/8 Composite (inside spread included).
Though not quite what one might hope for as far as BTR records go, Vance said it was indeed a buck of a lifetime.
“Today, I still get people asking me about it, and friends and family say they are thinking about taking up deer hunting. And that’s a lot of fun, you know?” he said.
“I had seen some big scrapes and rubs around, but I had no idea a buck this big was out there where I was hunting. Believe me, it can happen when you least expect it, or even if you don’t expect it.”
Vance’s big-buck success near a known high-fence area sparked a rumor that the buck had escaped from the compound onto the free-roaming area where it was shot. But when the owner or the acreage inside the high fence was asked about the rumor, he said to give the hunter his due for taking a great buck. “Trust me, we don’t let bucks of that caliber get away. That deer was a trophy no matter where it was taken.”
This article was published in the September 2006 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.