Long before Alabama’s 2023 bow season began, Joby Newman started getting cellular trail camera photos of a giant buck on his family’s 1,600-acre deer lease southeast of Montgomery.
“We’ve had the lease for four years and have managed it for big deer,” Newman, 24, tells Outdoor Life. “But the huge buck we started getting photos of in July was way bigger than anything we’ve seen on the property. We had photos of him throughout the summer, visiting different spots on the lease. He moved near a clear-cut area just before bow season, and that’s where I set up a lock-on stand, 25 feet off the ground.”
Newman climbed into his stand to hunt for the first time on Oct. 14 at 1:30 p.m. Within 10 minutes, does and small bucks began showing within bow range, including some decent 8-pointers. He estimated he saw at least 30 deer that night.
“I was going to hold out for the big buck no matter what,” Newman says. “He was in velvet, which is rare even in early bow season. He was my main goal—the only deer I was gonna shoot that evening.”
The velvet buck had routinely traveled through the clear-cut from 5:30 to 6 p.m., according to Newman’s trail cam photos. At 5:25, he showed up following several small bucks and a doe.
“I turned to look at the doe, and there he was, out about 70 yards coming right to me,” Newman says. “As the velvet buck got closer, two smaller bucks started head butting. The velvet buck turned to look at them and began making a scrape about 20 yards from me. I was afraid he was going to start fighting the little bucks or rub a tree and scrape off his velvet. I had to shoot.”
The buck took a couple steps before stopping broadside at 20 yards. Newman drew, and quickly released.
“I hit him right behind the shoulder, and I knew it was a good shot,” Newman says. “I watched him run, then stop about 40 yards away in some woods. I immediately texted my dad and told him I’d shot the velvet buck. Then I called my fiancée, Jordan, and told her.”
He waited about 30 minutes then backed out to his vehicle, giving the buck plenty of time. As Newman slipped out, he noticed a big brush pile near the clear-cut, and happened to spot the buck.
“I watched him carefully and he didn’t move,” Newman says. “I got closer, and confirmed he was dead.”
Newman’s father arrived, and the pair loaded the buck into their truck and took it to a barn for cleaning. The 16-point weighed 203 pounds and was estimated to be 5.5 years old.
Buckmasters scored the buck at 162 6/8 inches, which is a Buckmasters Alabama record for a “semi-irregular buck with a compound bow.” The deer’s main beams measure 5 inches in circumference with an outside antler spread of nearly 19 inches.
Newman will have the velvet buck mounted by a taxidermist, and he’s contacted Pope & Young for entry into their bowhunting record book.
“I’ve talked to the P&Y scorers,” Newman says. “They say the buck should become the state record for velvet bucks when they measure him.”
There are only two typical velvet whitetails from Alabama in the Pope and Young record book; the largest was taken on Oct. 19, 1996 and scored 144 6/8. Curiously the other Alabama velvet buck on the recordbooks was taken even later in the season—on Nov. 5—in 1998.