When Lane Lawrimore of Hartselle, Alabama, told his 17-year-old son, Will, they stood a better chance of shooting a big buck off their land in Lawrence County, he had no idea he would soon be able to say "I told you so."
His youngest son wanted to spend the day after Thanksgiving hunting family land in Marion County, farther southwest, because they always see more deer there. While agreeing with Will's assessment, Lane convinced him their 500 acres near the Bankhead National Forest were the better choice because the rut was underway.
"Our place near Hamilton (Marion County) has more deer, but they're not as big," Lane said. "They just can't compete with the Michigan deer we have closer to home."
By Michigan, he's referring to the origin of the deer that were restocked in parts of north Alabama in 1927. They tend to grow bigger, and the does' estrus cycles begin earlier than native-born deer. Plus, the population is nowhere close to exceeding the land's carrying capacity.
Theirs was a quality vs. quantity dilemma.
"Hunting in Lawrence County, you typically see only a doe or two; maybe a young buck," he said. "But there's always the potential to see a giant. That's what I told Will."
Four went hunting: Will, Lane, Lane's oldest son Blaze, and Lane's friend, Greg Barnett. Everyone saw deer that morning, but no shots were fired.
The only one Lane saw that afternoon was a giant buck.
"It happened so quickly, I didn't have time to get shook up," he said.
The 6 1/2-year-old whitetail has a BTR composite score of 195 4/8 inches. It was enormous in body, too.
"We've shot several 220- and 230-pounders. This one HAD to go 260," he said. "The backstrap was 4 feet long!"
Lane believes he and other successful deer hunters in his neck of the woods can thank the 2016 drought for luring mature bucks to water sources. He believes his rut-weary whitetail was heading for a drink when it lumbered into range.
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