Scotty Burke knew the Tennessee buck he was after was special. East Tennessee isn’t a regular producer of world-class whitetails, but it certainly has some, and the giant 10-pointer that Burke had on trail camera proves it. It was the biggest deer that he, or any of his hunting buddies, had ever seen in that part of the state. He’d been watching the buck for four years and has had it on camera for three of those.
Burke has been hunting since he was 8 years old, and this buck is one of the most special he’s had an opportunity to hunt.
“I killed my first deer when I was 16 years old,” Burke said. “I have hunted in Alabama. My boss, Chad Baker, has taken me to Mexico for the past four years to hunt some of their big whitetail deer. The rest of my hunting has been around the area I grew up with my two sons, my brother, and my friends.”
He knew the area well, so on August 28, 2022, he was primed to move in and hunt the buck. With clear skies and 87-degree temps, the conditions were typical, and he expected deer to move. He checked HuntStand for major feed times and the windage. Seeing promising projections, he was even more enthusiastic about his hunt.
He set out for a ground blind on a wooded ridgeline. In front was a flat with an old logging road through it. To the rear, the flat that tapered off toward a bottom. To the left was a saddle that led to water. And to the right was the logging road. Burke has had about five encounters with this deer throughout the years but hoped this day would be the final one.
Soon after Burke settled in, a 9-pointer walked into view. Then, an 8-pointer, and another 8-pointer. Eventually, they walked out of view. That’s when everything went quiet. Seconds later, the big buck emerged.
Burke watched as the deer slowly entered bow range.
“My heart started beating out of my chest,” Burke says. “He walked into the first of two shooting lanes that I had, and then it was game over.”
When the deer reached 30 yards, Burke settled the crossbow crosshairs and let fly. A good hit. The deer disappeared into the timber. After calming down, he called his brother and told him the news.
“Neither him nor my son thought I was being serious because it was getting late and neither of us had seen anything,” Burke says.
But when they helped track the deer, and saw it, they certainly believed him. Still, they were shocked.
“They all said it was the biggest buck they had ever seen in eastern Tennessee,” Burke says. “They were all congratulating me and were very happy for me. It was the buck of a lifetime, and it was awesome that my brother and my oldest son were with me on the hunt. That made it very special. The deer means a lot to me, and I am most thankful about the process. I hope that my boys now see that hard work and determination can pay off in a big way.”
They scored the buck at 175 inches (rough green score) and Burke believes the deer to be five or six years old.