04/25/08 — Late entry becomes Classic's deer of the year

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Late entry becomes Classic's deer of the year

Published in Sports on April 25, 2008 1:48 PM

On Dec. 20, 2006, Jonathan Reasor and his father, Don Reasor were hunting deer on a 400-acre farm the family leases in Rockingham County near Browns Summit. While the day wasn't much different from any other hunting day, with the hunters climbing ladder stands in the woods near a field, the deer that materialized over a hill was extraordinary.

"I've been taking Jonathan hunting since he was seven years old and he was 16 when he shot his big deer," Don said. "I was about 100 yards away when I heard him shoot. He called me on the radio and was all shook up. He said it looked like a 14-pointer because it had 7 tines on one side."

Don said Jonathan was hunting near a valley with 30 or 40 acres of thick marshy habitat no one enters. It is intentionally left alone to provide a deer sanctuary.

The morning was cool with a slight breeze, perfect for deer hunting. But Jonathan had arrived late for the hunt. The deer were in their second rut phase, with bucks following does and deer sign everywhere.

"I kept hitting the snooze on the alarm," Jonathan said. "I got into my stand about 7 a.m. I was hunting the edge of the swamp and using an estrous scent. I had just used a can call. When you turn it over, then back over again, it sounds like a deer bleating."

Jonathan had seen two does with a buck following them early that morning. But the buck was too small to shoot.

"About an hour later, at 9 or 9:30, this buck came up higher on the hill above me," he said. "At first the sun was shining in a way that I couldn't see him well. His body was hidden behind some brush. Then I saw the bottom of his legs. He stood there 2 or 3 seconds. I got my gun up as he started to head back over the hill and shot him quartering away."

Don arrived to help find the deer. Jonathan had made a good hit with his rifle, a Winchester Model 70 in .30-06 caliber mounted with a Bushnell Sportsman 4x12x40 scope. But there was no blood trail. They searched an area near a bean field where neighbors had seen an enormous buck feeding at night.

"We looked in the wrong direction," Jonathan said. "We didn't find him for three days. My dad was going to another stand and walked past one of my other stands. The buck was laying 20 yards away from my other stand, 100 yards from where I shot it. The bullet angled forward into his shoulder and didn't exit."

Don took photos with his cell phone camera to show to Jonathan and asked if his deer looked like the one in the images.

"I saw the seven tines on one side and knew it was," Jonathan said. "We went to get the deer and the cape was still O.K. because the weather had been cool."

Jonathan did not enter his deer in the 2007 Dixie Deer Classic because his taxidermist wanted more time than normal to create a special mount because it was such an incredible trophy. The taxidermist also wanted to take the mount to shows.

"I only wanted to get the deer officially scored when we took it to the Dixie Deer Classic this year," Jonathan said. "We had it scored unofficially by two guys who came up with 209 and 213. When I got to the scoring area on Sunday, it was the last day of the Classic, so they told me it was too late to enter the deer. But then they called me to the scoring booth over the loud speaker. They told me I had taken the No. 3 non-typical buck in North Carolina."

Jonathan received a Deer of the Year award at the 2008 Dixie Deer Classic, which was held at the State Fairgrounds Feb. 29-March 2. The antlers had a net score of 2085/8, and a gross score of 2164/8.

Mike Marsh is one of the most prolific outdoor writers in the state, contributing outdoor-related articles and photographs to many magazines and newspapers, earning a number of awards across the state and country. He is also a published author of three books on hunting and fishing. Have a question for Mike or an idea for a future column? Send your e-mail to sportsline@newsargus.com.