photo of a deer killed by Debbie Rilesphoto of a deer killed by Debbie Rilesphoto of a deer killed by Debbie Riles

Hunter: Debbie Riles

Points: 11 (5L, 6R)

County: Worth

Season: 2023-2024

Hunt Story

We have been following this buck for the last three years. He showed up on the southeast corner of our property in 2020 as an 8-point. We knew he was young and had great potential, so we decided to let him go and see what he could turn into. He seemed to have disappeared, and we never saw him the next year in 2021. Then in 2022 my neighbor, Nuni Ford, was helping me and she set up a camera on a scrape in a hardwood bottom on the northwest end of the property in October. We found him again, and boy did he look good. He had put on a lot of mass and an additional point. That area ended up being quite the honey hole, and I ended up shooting an incredible 11-point around Christmas that year, and I never laid eyes on this buck during the 2022 season. Then during this season, we put a camera out where he had been a regular and never saw him. I was so worried he was gone forever, but Nuni put her camera on a scrape in an area he had passed through the previous year and there he was. We finally found him at the beginning of October, and he had put on an additional 2 points and more mass. He was all I could think about and the only buck I was after. After moving around cameras for weeks, it took us until November to figure out his area and favorite spot. The last couple of weeks he had been one step ahead of me. I would sit in one stand, and he would show up in another one. Finally, with a cold last week in November and him following does, we had our chance. We had him on camera at 5:30 p.m. at a place we call The Box Stand. We need a west wind to sit there, and November 29th was a west wind. We thought it was perfect! Well it wasn’t, he ended up at a stand south of there that night at 5:30. Fooled again. The next day, November 30th, the wind was shifting out of the east. Nuni and my husband moved a stand onto the west side of the plot around 10:30 a.m. that day, and everything was set. Nuni dropped me off at the new stand location at 3:00. After watching all the other bucks I have on camera in that area eating and chasing does, I finally catch a glimpse of a large-bodied deer following a doe into the patch from the south end. They make their way into the patch, and I had a feeling it was him from his side profile, but I wanted to make sure and wait for him to turn his head slightly so I could see his unmistakable wide, massy rack. Without hesitation, I put my crosshairs behind his shoulder and slowly pulled the trigger. He dropped for a few seconds and then got up and stumbled out of the field. I called Nuni, and she asked if that was me that shot. I told her it was and what happened. We decided to wait an hour before looking for him. I quietly got down from the stand and she picked me up. After a nerve-racking hour, we headed back out there with our flashlights and buckshot just in case it wasn’t a favorable shot. After ten minutes of the two of us looking, Nuni yells out, “Debbie Gates Riles, come get your boy!” We shouted for joy in the dark. I finally got him! He was more incredible than I could have imagined and a buck of a lifetime.
Return to List