Ledbetter wins big buck contest with 13-pointer

Published 8:51 am Friday, January 14, 2011

FRANKLIN—When Derrick Ledbetter brought a 13-point to Franklin-area taxidermist Doug Gray, there was no doubt in his mind that Ledbetter would win his first-ever big buck contest.

Derrick Ledbetter, left, holds the rack from his deer, which won the Grayboys Taxidermy big buck contest. Taxidermist Doug Gray, center, will give Ledbetter a free shoulder mount. Stone Baker also won a free mount from a random drawing. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

The Newsoms man’s deer, which had a 22-inch spread and a Boone & Crockett gross score of 181 6/8, ended up the winner. Ledbetter will get a free shoulder mount valued at $450 from Gray, owner of Grayboys Taxidermy.

There was a second winner.

As part of the contest, Gray drew one name for a free mount from the 81 hunters who brought deer to his shop this past season. Eleven-year-old Stone Baker of Boykins won that mount for his first buck — an 8-point he took on Dec. 11 while hunting with family friend Hank Fuller and Shilo Hunt Club.

“I think my dad was happier than anybody,” said Stone, who is the son of Tim and Vicky Baker. “He said if he (would’ve been in the contest), he would be the last to get his name pulled.”

Gray, who named his business after his childhood nickname “Grayboys,” has been a taxidermist since 1998. For Gray, it was a second income that supplemented his full-time job at International Paper, where he worked for 32 years. After the 50-year-old was among 1,100 to lose his job at IP with the mill’s closing last year, he fell back on his taxidermy.

He decided to host the contest to advertise his business.

For choosing the winner, Gray used the Boone & Crockett gross score and required the deer be taken in either Virginia or North Carolina from the opening of North Carolina’s bow season to the close of

Virginia’s gun season on Jan. 1.

Ledbetter brought his deer to Grayboys after taking it mid-morning on Nov. 30. He was hunting in Sebrell with an outfitter, Raccoon Creek Sports, which covers 2,100 acres in Southampton County.

Hunting alone, Ledbetter spotted the monster buck from 50 to 60 yards away. He shot it with a 12-gauge once it got within 30 to 35 yards.

“I was just really more in shock than anything,” Ledbetter said. “I knew it was a big deer, but I didn’t know how big until I got on it.”

Its rack had an overall height of 19 inches.

“That’s unusual,” Gray said. “Very seldom do I get a deer in that’s at 16 inches tall.”

Ledbetter, who has hunted at Raccoon Creek Sports for 20 years, plans to display the deer at its clubhouse.

Baker took his deer on Dec. 11, also at about mid-morning. When the deer got within 25 to 30 yards, Fuller told him to shoot.

“I got one shot and then we didn’t see any blood,” Baker said.

They searched and found a large dead deer; it was his 8-point.