When Red Mills, Alabama teenager got a phone call from his grandpa to help him with his pesky deer problem, he had no idea what he was getting into. After his grandpa, Phillip Taylor, kept seeing a deer chomp on his apple and pear trees, he decided to see if his grandson, Coye Potts, could nip the problem in the bud with his crossbow. However, when 16-year-old Potts saw the deer for the first time, he realized it wasn’t an average Alabama buck but a 10-point red stag.
“Golly, that thing is huge,” Potts later told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about seeing the deer for the first time. “It don’t look like no whitetail.”
When Potts got to his grandpa’s property on Nov. 3, he took to his homemade ground blind. After a few hours, he would get to go after the stag. However, it would be challenging. He tried to make the shot but couldn’t because the stag’s antlers were tangled in a feed bag. However, finally, Potts would take the shot. He arrowed the stag through his heart from over 30 yards away, with his grandpa and hunting buddy, Hudson Vowell cheering him on the whole time. Not bad for someone’s first successful harvest.
Teen harvests extremely rare red stag, expert calls it ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity
According to red stag experts, the animals are native to Europe and Asia— meaning it’s infrequent to catch one in Alabama. Although they look similar to elk or whitetail, they’re entirely different beasts. They’re incredibly adaptable to their environments and thus a famous animal in the high-fence hunting universe.
According to conservation education specialist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marianne Gauldin, every season in Alabama, only one or two hunters will bag a red stag.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Vowell said about his friend’s win. “I don’t think I’ll ever see another deer that big or a red stag in general that someone didn’t pay for, walking around in Alabama freely.”
Justin Benefield, Alabama Deer Processing owner, also helped Potts get the stag adequately processed. Benefield later told news outlets that he and friends had been talking about the exact red stag the night before and that people had spotted the deer in the area for the last several months.
When he learned Potts had taken it down, he was shocked. “Man, this is the luckiest kid alive. In the state of Alabama, you just don’t get that opportunity, a hit-the-lottery type of thing,” Benefield said. “There’s no telling on a paid hunt how much it would cost.”
As for Potts, he is ecstatic about all the meat in his freezer and his new shoulder mount. “Every time you walk by it, it will just bring back memories,” he said proudly. “You just feel an accomplishment.”