The 15-year-old hunter wanted to wait for a mature deer before filling her first tag. Her patience paid off
Rack Report Details
210 4/8 inches gross
Time of Year:
Nov. 18, 2020
Breckinridge County, Kentucky
Remington 783 in .243
Claire Flood first started hunting with her dad two years ago at age 13. From the beginning, she was determined to take a mature buck as her first deer. Her first season she saw only does and small bucks in range. Last season, after-school activities and sports kept her busy, limiting her hunting time. But this year was different. Pandemic restrictions found her with more time at home for favorite hobbies like horseback and ATV riding. Claire had spotted multiple mature bucks over the summer and early fall, making her even more determined to take one in the upcoming season.
Claire and her dad, Duane, hunted for two days. The first day was slow, with no deer spotted. In the days leading up to the season, Duane had been watching the fields in their hunting area morning and evening on his way to and from work. “There hadn’t been a lot of activity along the field edges. I knew we had a bumper mast crop, so we decided to hunt a stand we had in the hardwood timber,” he says.
Day two in the stand was better. Several does and small bucks came by, but nothing Claire wanted to shoot. As shooting light waned, more deer entered the woods in front of the hunters. Duane told Claire they needed to sit tight to keep from blowing the deer out of the area as they got down from their stand. Then Claire saw something. “She told me there was a big buck in front of us. It was too dark for me to make out, but she said it looked huge. She told me the exact spot he was standing,” Duane says. The hunters sat in their stand until well after dark, waiting for the deer to leave.
The next afternoon found the pair back in the same stand. There was a new scrape in the spot where Claire had seen the big buck standing the night before. A nice 14-inch-wide 6-point came through. Duane told Claire that he would make a fine first buck, but Claire decided to pass. As the evening drew to a close, a lone doe entered the woods to the right of the hunters. As with the other deer that had come by, Duane had Claire look at the doe through the riflescope so that she was comfortable with it in case they saw a buck she wanted to shoot. Soon, they heard something rustling through the leaves behind them. “I just thought it was the same squirrel that had been annoying us all afternoon,” Claire says. Duane knew the rustling sounded like a deer, so he eased around to see what was coming. It was a buck, a massive buck, crossing behind them.
She whispered back that she couldn’t hold steady on him because she was shaking, then she added that he had at least 8 points on one side.
“Dad said there was a buck behind us. I turned around and saw it and told dad it was going to cross the logging road to our right. Dad told me to wait until he put his head down and ease the rifle around to that side,” Claire says. “He walked out to our right, but I couldn’t turn around enough to get steady on him.”
Duane laughed and added that Claire was pretty shook up at that point. “I said to shoot when she felt good. She whispered back that she couldn’t hold steady on him because she was shaking, then she added that he had at least 8 points on one side. I told her to quit looking at his rack and concentrate on his shoulder,” Duane says. “When the buck finally moved around to a spot where she could get steady on him, I whispered, ‘Honey, shoot him now.’”
Claire took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger.
The buck was hit hard through the shoulder but still on his feet. Duane told his daughter to work the bolt and shoot again. “She was tore up at that point and had a heck of a time getting another round in,” he said. Claire got the bolt closed and found the buck in her scope for a second shot. The buck was hit hard again and turned in circles for a few seconds before going down within sight. It was as they were watching the buck turn that the pair realized how truly huge it was.
“Claire’s cousin had killed a nice 145-inch 10-point on opening day, her first deer as well, and Claire had mentioned to her mom that she wanted one at least that big,” says her dad. She got it. Claire’s buck featured a 10-point main frame with 12 additional scorable points. Father and daughter celebrated the massive buck together in the woods before loading it up.
They took the buck to nearby Whittaker Guns, where they scored the deer at 206 and change, gross. They also stopped by another nearby store, Kentucky Gun Co., where the buck taped out at 210 4/8 inches. Claire will have the buck officially scored after the 60-day drying period.
The deer drew a crowd at both locations, and word spread quickly throughout the community that Claire had taken the massive buck. Another nearby hunter stopped by with a set of last year’s sheds that he thought might have come from the buck. They were a perfect match. The sheds had been found 3 miles from where the buck was killed. Neither Duane nor Claire had ever seen the buck before, leading Duane to think the buck was traveling well outside his normal range due to the rut.
Duane says that he still isn’t sure that Claire realizes what she has done. “Most hunters, me included, hunt all their lives and never even see a buck of this size. She killed one for her first deer. That’s going to be hard to top.”