Makayla Hay, a 15-year-old from New Waverly, Texas, has what is sure to be a new state youth record for this gigantic 23-point non-typical buck taken on Opening Day of firearms season.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Makayla managed to shoot the very same deer she and her father spotted in a photograph taken before the season started and published in a local newspaper. The photo depicted a group of bucks swimming through a river near Makayla's family hunting lease in Madison County. She and her father, Jim Hay, joked about the possibility of seeing the buck come hunting season, and Makayla decided she would be on the lookout.
Sure enough, Opening Day started with Makayla passing on an 8-pointer, determined to get a shot at the trophy she had seen in the photo.
"I told Dad I was going to sit out here all season until I see that deer," she told the Chronicle. "He said, 'You're not that patient.'"
Lucky for Makayla, she didn't need to be.
An impressive rack came rumbling out of the woods, Makayla loaded and aimed, and dropped the buck. At the time, she wasn't exactly sure if it was the one from the photo.
A text message to her dad, who was in a nearby stand and had heard the shot, said 'Dad, come here.'
After the two reached the fallen deer, the realization was clear.
"It was way bigger than I thought. I was in shock, just trying to count the points," Makayla said. "Dad just walked around it and kept saying, 'I told you it was a real deer!'"
They hauled the deer out and headed for Jerrett's Meat Services in Madisonville, and a call ahead of time claiming they were bringing in "the buck in the picture of the deer swimming the river" drummed up so much interest, that dozens of local hunters were waiting when they arrived.
Billy Lambert, wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's wildlife division, was also awaiting their arrival, and was "flabbergasted" at Makayla's deer.
No one, including Lambert, had ever seen such a rack from a deer taken in the area. It was determined to be a free-range deer, with an initial gross score of 213 7/8. If it stands after the 60-day waiting period, it will be only the 89th non-typical to make the Boone and Crockett Club's all-time records book.
"It's going to be a long 60 days," Makayla told the newspaper.
Lambert was quoted saying the buck may be the highest-scoring free-range buck taken by a hunter under 17-years old. It's a great story for a true hunter, as Makayla has proven her skills in her short lifetime as a hunter.
"Makayla can age deer on the hoof better than most men," Jim Hay said. "She's a good, solid hunter. She knows what she's doing."
Yes, she certainly does.