photo of a deer killed by Payton Keaheyphoto of a deer killed by Payton Keaheyphoto of a deer killed by Payton Keahey

Hunter: Payton Keahey

Points: 15 (8L, 7R)

County: Spalding

Season: 2020-2021

Hunt Story

On Thanksgiving Day it's a tradition in our family to all meet at our family farm in Hampton, Ga for the food and family stuff followed by everyone going out and hunting. I normally hunt with my dad, but he had to attend another dinner with his girlfriend, so I asked my grandmother Patsy Mask and Uncle Joey Keahey if they wanted to go hunt my dad's tower with me. This tower is special and Dad doesn't let anyone hunt this stand except me, him and he will take my cousin, but until I've had a chance to kill a big buck it's pretty much off limits. While on the stand my dad text me pictures of the 14-point buck which he said was on the trail cam the day before just before dark with a doe and wished me luck, and that was about 5:30 p.m. About 10 minutes after he text me I had a small 8-point and several doe out in the field. Suddenly about another 2-3 minutes later a doe burst out into the field followed by a huge buck with a lot of points and a bright white rack, I knew it had to be him because I had just been looking at pictures on my phone that my dad had just sent a few minutes before. I tried to stay calm knowing it was going to be a long shot, from the tower to the deer was about 400 yards, but I knew I could do it because I made a longer shot the year before on an 11-pointer. I was using my dad's 300 WSM which he has set up for long range and a very light trigger. I love that gun because I never miss with it. I put the gun in the shooting brackets dad has set up all around the stand and remembered the words my dad has pounded into my head, (he's a retired Law Enforcement sniper and a firearms instructor) so he has drilled me with ''take a deep breath, steady your crosshairs behind his shoulder, hold slightly high at 400, DON'T TOUCH THE TRIGGER UNTIL IT'S STEADY ON TARGET'' slowly exhale and ''send it''...... I sent it! And the deer didn't fall like they always do! Instead he hunkers down and runs toward the woods, but I knew the tail was down, I was so sick not knowing if I had missed or had I hit? I had to call my dad, oh the dreaded call because I nor anyone else was 100% sure I had hit him. I made the call and dad was asking the questions, did you shoot one? What was it? Did you drop him? I had to tell him that the 14-pointer came out, and I shot him.... but he ran off... My dad was about 45 minutes away but started driving, I think he made it in about 30 minutes because he got there quick. We went to where the deer went in the woods and couldn't find anything, no blood, hair or anything! Dad started drilling me with what happened. Did you hold the crosshairs steady or did you rush the shot? What did you see the deer do after the shot? He was almost convinced and almost had me convinced that I had missed him because there was about eight of us looking and nobody found anything, even down in the woods. My dad started a sweeping search in the direction the deer went and soon was about 150 yards down in the woods when I heard him yell "Payton where are you?" sounding like I'm in trouble, he told me to come toward his light. He told me to turn off my light because I was blinding him, so I approached him and he began apologizing for being too hard on me and said it was just he wanted me to get that buck. I knew he was upset with me or he had me believe he was, until he said 'Oh yeah congratulations!" He had me totally fooled because the buck was only about 10 yards behind him and I was extremely excited to see him! That's my dad, always messing with me but he is awesome! We counted the points and we were surprised to find out that what we had been calling "The 14" was actually a 15-pointer! This has been my most exciting deer season since I started hunting with him at 8 years old and now my 4th buck on my wall. My first being a huge 10, then the next year the big 11, earlier this season a big 8 and now the 15-pointer. I owe it all to my dad because he could have shot every one of these deer, but he has let me do all the shooting since I was 8. He did shoot a giant 8 this year only because I couldn't see the deer because my eyes were messed up from playing with my phone when it was time for deer to come out, I'll never do that again!!
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