03/20/09 — Runions' buck earns Dixie Classic award

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Runions' buck earns Dixie Classic award

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 20, 2009 1:46 PM

Several big-antlered bucks were entered for judging at the Dixie Deer Classic, which was sponsored by the Wake County Wildlife Club in early March.

Cody Runions, a student at North Johnston in Kenly, harvested one of the deer. At 15 years old, he had taken a few does and one small spike buck with firearms while hunting with his father, Jason Runions.

But fortune smiled broadly on the youth when he decided to take up hunting with a broadhead. On his first bowhunt, he shot a huge buck near Zebulon.

"I was hunting on land owned by my friend Casey Stokes' uncle, Matt Stokes," he said. "I was hunting with Casey and his father, Mark. We were hunting from climbing stands in pinewoods and I was about 30 feet up in a tree in my stand.

"Casey had seen a lot of does there and I wanted to shoot a nice doe. But when the big boy came out, I ended up shooting him instead."

It was the second Saturday of the eastern bowhunting season, an overcast day with a slight breeze. Runions said he first glimpsed the big buck at 7 p.m.

"Casey's father and brother were hunting some other spots and had been seeing some good deer over there," said Runions. "But they hadn't seen any big bucks where I was hunting."

Runions stood to draw his bow and shoot. When he did, his stand squeaked and his heart stopped.

"He realized something wasn't right and started walking away slowly," said Runions. "When he turned around for one last look I was shaking awfully bad."

But Runions' shot was true, striking a spinal nerve and a lung. The deer was only 25 yards away and was in sight. He waited 15 minutes until he was sure the buck was down before he climbed down from the tree.

Runions was using Casey Stokes' bow because the bowstring slipped off the cam of his new bow. He had taken his bow to Springhill Outfitters in Kenly to have it repaired.

Brandon Scott manages Springhill Outfitters and coaches the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Hunter Education shooting team and also teaches Advanced Placement Chemistry at North Johnston High School.

"Cody and his friend came to tryouts and Cody didn't have a bow," said Scott. "We helped him get his own bow. I didn't meet him until tryouts because he's a freshman and I teach juniors' AP Chemistry. But he had a high level of interest in archery.

"He shot his buddy's bow pretty well so I thought if he had a bow that fit him he would do even better."

Runions' father made payments on the bow. Although he doesn't bowhunt, Jason Runions saw that his son had taken an interest in archery. Cody's hard work paid off when he earned a spot on the shooting team. Scott gave him the 125-grain Montec broadhead he used to shoot the deer.

"A love for hunting was fostered in him that may not have been if it had not been for the relationship between the business and the school," said Scott. "Springhill sponsors the school's archery team and they shoot at our range. If he had been at another school that didn't have an archery program, he may not have had the opportunity."

Runions made certain the buck was dead then called his father on a cell phone. He also sent a camera-phone image.

"I asked if he thought it was big enough for a mount," said Runions. "We took it to Carolina Taxidermy the next day. He was an 8-pointer with an 18-inch inside spread to his antlers."

Cody Runions' buck scored 1347/8 points, tying another buck which was arrowed by Jacob Satterfield in Mecklenburg County. The two bucks shared the honors for the best deer taken by a N.C. Youth Bowhunter at the Dixie Deer Classic.

"Most of my friends were happy for me," said Runions. "They said they would probably fall out of the stand if they had a chance at anything like that. I can't thank my friends enough who helped me shoot a buck like that enough -- Casey Stokes, his father, brother and uncle who took me bowhunting.

"And Brandon Scott, who got me started in archery."