July 10, 2023
Late in 2020, while hunting, Charles Strickland received a text from his son-in-law that said: “Look what I am watching!” And when the accompanying photo came through, Charles thought he was being spoofed. He was looking at a world-class buck with double drop tines and antlers nearly two-feet wide!
The blurry pic was taken through binoculars with an old iPhone, but there was no denying that the buck was huge. And it was standing 85 yards away from a nervous new hunter. Mathew was not comfortable taking the long shot with his crossbow, so he suggested that Charles try grunting to see if the buck would move toward his stand. The deer was close enough that he should hear the call, but Charles had a doe right under his stand at that moment. So, he couldn’t make that happen. So the buck walked away without Charles getting to see it.
The property they were hunting, and another farm close by, are regularly hunted. So this enormous buck was on the radar of quite a few other hunters. Incredibly, with so many after him, the deer made it through the end of that season and the next one, too.
As the 2022 archery season approached, Charles was still hoping he might see the buck. And three days before the season opened it passed by his cell camera. Better yet, the giant was standing just 200 yards from a stand hung just a few days earlier. The buck still had the same frame, but it had grown wider and even more impressive. The hunt was on!
Opening morning didn’t start smoothly. Charles was running late, and when he got to his stand, he noticed he had lost one of his crossbow bolts, leaving him with two in the quiver. Property rules state that you must kill two does before you can kill a buck. So, this was going to be complicated.
Fortunately, he managed to fill the order right after daylight, taking a big doe and then a yearling. Then, with no other choice, Charles climbed down to retrieve a bolt. He didn’t have to wait long for more action after getting back in place. His target cruised in with two other bucks a few minutes later.
Then the buck stretched out and started licking the ground where Charles had shot the first doe. Curious about this odd behavior, Charles looked through his binoculars. The buck was licking blood off the broken shaft from his first bolt! Since it didn’t seem alarmed, Charles decided to take some pictures of the deer. He took 13 photos of it! He then videoed for several more minutes.
“I cannot explain what I was thinking,” Charles says. “But I sat the phone down and made a good shot after all of that!”
The buck ran about 65 yards and collapsed in sight. “Then I sent a text to my son and a friend,” Charles remembers.
Charles had an incredible morning, and that was just the beginning.
After the drying period, the 26 2/8-inch-wide rack scores 192 6/8. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s Deer Registry, Charles’ non-typical is the new Tennessee state record crossbow buck. Tennessee doesn’t separate crossbow kills from vertical bow-killed deer in their records, and the Registry doesn’t report another buck being killed by any archery equipment as having a higher net score than the Strickland buck. Boone and Crockett has the Strickland buck’s net score recorded in their big game records online, too.