An Alabama teen earned a prolific hunting tale after bagging an impressive red stag deer earlier this month. The reasons this hunt is so unique are manifold. The red stag deer is not even a native to North America. It’s curious how it made its way to Randolph County, Alabama. Many experienced hunters spent months looking for this rare creature. However, it was Coye Potts- a teenager who had never killed a deer in his nearly 50 previous hunts- that finally brought it down.
To top it off, the teen did it with a crossbow. “[It was] a perfect shot,” Potts told the Ledger-Enquirer. The animal was so large that part of it dangling off the back of his GMC Z71 pickup truck when he drove it to the processor. Even at the processor, they had to use two different scales because one couldn’t hold the weight by itself. They estimate that it weighs in at around 300 pounds.
Coye’s maternal grandfather, Phillip Taylor, lives in Rock Mills, Alabama which is about 6 miles from the Georgia border. Approximately a year ago, he started seeing a large deer come out of the woods and into his goat pasture.
Since he doesn’t hunt, he asked Coye – a licensed hunter – to come by and take a look. A couple weeks later, Coye got up early one morning to be in the homemade blind made of burlap and sticks on his grandfather’s property just as dawn was breaking.
The red stag deer’s origins are a mystery
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, white-tailed deer is the most popular game hunted in Alabama. Free-ranging red deer either escaped captivity or are descendants of those that did, and now live wild in the state. Marianne Gauldin, a conservation education specialist in the department weighed in on the issue. “Red deer sightings in Alabama are rare,” Gauldin told the Ledger-Enquirer. “They are at times harvested by Alabama hunters, typically one or two instances per season.”
For this hunt, Coye used a crossbow because gun season hadn’t yet started in Alabama. Unfortunately, his first shot missed the deer because he was aiming too low. On top of that, a feed bag caught in the antlers obstructed Coye’s view. Taylor–Coy’s grandfather and experienced hunter–cautioned him to be patient and wait for the perfect opportunity. And finally, on Nov. 3 (one week after his initial attempt), Coye went out hunting with Hudson Vowell–a 17-year-old who acted as spotter using a rangefinder.
Around ninety minutes later, deer began to appear from the woods onto the grassy land. Hudson was in awe of what he was seeing. They decided to wait until the deer was about 30 yards away before shooting.
Imagine their surprise when the deer, at 32 yards on Hudson’s rangefinder, turned from looking right at the blind to show them its broadside.The feed bag was still stuck on the antlers, but Coye’s arrow had hit its mark. It went through the double lung and heart. The deer jumped, but then quickly fell to the ground.
It’s still a bit of a mystery how the red stag deer ended up in Alabama. Coye’s red stag is most likely to have come from a deer farm escape, according to experts. However, no one has reported one gpoing missing.