ZEBULON — In deer-hunting circles, news of a monster-sized buck can travel like hot gossip especially the pictures, which are irresistible as a centerfold to anyone wearing camouflage.
Two weeks ago, Eric Robertson shot an 11-point, 200-pound deer on his parents' land in Wendell, the biggest by far in his hunting career and far larger than most of the bucks wandering Wake County. He snapped a quick picture with his phone and sent it to a buddy in Ahoskie.
But within a few hours, that photo had made the rounds, passing into the hands of admiring strangers. By lunchtime, when Robertson took his deer to be processed, the butcher had already seen its picture.
"He didn't even know the guy who showed me the picture," said Don Sollars of Country Butchers in Zebulon. "I thought that was funny."
There's a reason shots of Robertson's 11-pointer went viral: You rarely see a buck that big in these parts.
It's not a record. The heaviest one ever weighed in North Carolina is 267 pounds, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. But the bigger ones tend to inhabit the spacious fields in the eastern part of the state.
Robertson, a 30-year-old blaster at a Knightdale quarry, first saw the beast last year. He didn't fire a shot afterward, hoping to get the big one in his sights.
"I was waiting for that joker," he said.
It appeared two Saturdays ago, just before dawn, walking along a power-line easement. From his stand, Robertson shot it cleanly with a Marlin .30-06 rifle at about 60 yards.
He hunts for food, and this deer yielded about 100 pounds of meat, including 10 pounds of jerky. But after shooting roughly 100 deer in his life, he'd never had one mounted.
When he brought his trophy to a Zebulon taxidermist, the owner joked he'd have to keep Robertson's deer in the back or other customers would take theirs home in shame. It was the biggest the taxidermist had seen, Robertson said, outside of an Ohio deer grown fat on Yankee grain.
It's a fair bet, given Robertson's experience, that the Ohio hunter's buddies all knew about that deer up north, plugged into the online deer show.
Shaffer: (919) 829-4818