December 19, 2022
By Clifford Neames
Travis Keyes has the kind of luck all of us wish for. He was after a “good” buck on Nov. 28 when a magnum showed up.
It all began when a friend called to tell him he had just seen the biggest deer of his life crossing the road onto some family land in Virginia. “I really didn’t believe him,” says Travis. “But he kept insisting that it was a true giant!”
The property in Stafford county is not very big, so this deer would almost certainly not be a resident. And Travis keeps an eye on it when he comes and goes to his shop. “There’s really just an old barn there, and it is wide open,” he says. “I always see a deer or two around, but nothing worth getting excited about. I generally hunt other places.”
But his father decided to hunt there the next day. He saw an 18-inch-wide 7-point, which he didn’t close the deal on. And that was enough to get Travis hunting the place the next afternoon.
Travis had a busy day at work, and by the time he got finished, he only had one hour left to hunt. He grabbed a shotgun and slipped into a familiar spot next to the barn. He had killed his first deer there years earlier.
“It is as good of a spot as anywhere else on the property,” Travis claims.
About 20 minutes later, he noticed a buck drifting in and out of the wood line. But this was no 18-inch-wide deer. “The antlers were way outside of his ears,” remembers Travis. “I had been in a hurry to make the hunt, and I only had one slug in my shotgun. The pressure was on!”
Fortunately, the deer dropped at the shot. Then Travis called his friend and told him to bring him more shells and to help him get the deer out.
When Travis walked up to the buck, he realized just how big it was. The huge, mainframe 10-point has an impressive 24-inch spread, 24-inch beams, 33 inches of mass and a small drop at the end of the left antler. All that pushes the green score over 172 inches.
After it got out that Travis had killed the deer, some neighbors sent over a trail camera picture. “That is where it had been living,” Travis says. “I guess my buddy was telling the truth, because it was the biggest one of my life, too!”