Christmas came about 16 hours early this year for Philip Major.
The 38-year-old was hunting on his property on the east side of False River near Ventress Tuesday morning when a well-known buck in the area decided to make a rare daytime appearance.
“I have a bunch of pictures of him. Everybody in this area has pictures of him,” said Major, who works for Turner Industries. “But mostly all nighttime pictures.
“He’s definitely a celebrity on camera around here. There’s probably 2,000 pictures of that deer in this area.”
Major and his 6-year-old son Parker had decided to make an early morning hunt on Christmas Eve, and had been settled in their box stand overlooking an overgrown 8-acre pasture with tree lines and small patches of woods when a 4-wheeler in the area got some deer moving about 600 yards away.
As he and Parker concentrated on trying to track those deer, Major saw a doe run across an opening about 100 yards from his stand shortly after 8 a.m.
“She was moving pretty quick. The doe cut across the opening and I almost got a shot, but I didn’t take it,” he said. “It probably wouldn’t have been a good one.”
He knew several does ran together, so he decided to wait and see if another doe would make an appearance when the big buck showed himself and made his way from Major’s right to left across the pasture about 100 yards from his stand.
“He was following that doe. I didn’t really have time to notice, but I knew this was him from the size and mass,” Major said. “I didn’t really have time to think. I had to hurry up and try to get a good shot.
“He might have been laying down in those weed patches because they love laying in the sun and bed up in there a lot.”
Major fired his Browning .300 short mag once, and then squeezed off another shot before the big buck made it into the woods.
“I always said if I shot it and knocked it down, I was going to keep shooting ‘til I ran out of bullets,” Major said with a laugh. “He didn’t even flinch on the first one. It was like I didn’t touch him, so I sat in the stand a while and couldn’t take it any more. I really didn’t even think I had hit it.”
He headed down to the spot where the deer had been standing, and found a few drops of blood. He returned to the stand to get Parker, and the two found the massive buck piled up about 30 yards into the woods.
And the second shot wasn’t even necessary: the first one did the trick.
“When I walked up to him, his horns were holding his head up in the air. I could see his head about a foot off the ground and I knew,” Major said. “I walked up to him and said, ‘That’s him.’
“Parker was jumping up and down yelling, ‘Booyah! Booyah!’ That was the best part of it all.
“I’m glad he got to share that with me.”
News of the kill traveled quickly, and Christmas Day was a blur of getting the deer cleaned, welcoming visitors who wanted to see the big buck and taking congratulatory phone calls.
“I want to thank my wife Amanda and daughter Estelle for putting up with me while I’m hunting,” Major said. “They were happy. My wife has seen me come back with deer before, but I don’t think she realized how big it actually was.”
The big buck hasn’t been officially scored yet, but Major estimates the green score in the neighborhood of 200 inches Boone and Crockett.
Depending upon final scoring, the buck will have between 18 and 22 points, on a rack that carries mass all the way to the tips. His inside spread was 18 inches, with main beams 26- and 23-inches long. Circumference at the bases is more than 7 inches, Major said.
“I’m glad I got him,” Major said. “I’ve been hunting here my whole life. The deer are far and few. It’s hard hunting here.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.