A possible world record whitetail deer was killed in Sumner County on Monday.
But it was days in the making.
Stephen Tucker, 26, of Gallatin attempted to shoot the trophy buck with a muzzleloader on Saturday, but his gun misfired. He saw the animal again later in the day but was too far away to get what he thought was a clean shot.
"I was just hoping I would see him again after I passed up the shot the second time I saw him," said Tucker, who estimated he was about 150 yards away at the second sighting. "My thinking was the second time I saw him was as far away as he was and as big as he was, I wanted to make sure that I killed him. I didn't want to cripple him. I said to myself, 'If I cripple him, nobody will get to kill him.' The last thing I wanted to do was be the guy who crippled a deer like that."
Tucker saw the buck again two days later, about 6 a.m. Monday, and killed him with a shot from approximately 40 yards away.
"There's no doubt it's going to be the new state record; I mean, that's an absolute," Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency District 21 captain Dale Grandstaff said. "As far as the world record, (the rack) is about an inch over the world record."
Since the rack must undergo a 60-day drying out period before it is officially measured, the score could change slightly, and because it is so close to the world record, it might not stand up.
There is no chance, however, that it wouldn't beat the state record.
Racks are measured from side to side at the farthest points using the official Boone and Crockett scoring method. Grandstaff, an official Boone and Crockett scorer, measured the 47-point non-typical rack at 313 2/8-inches gross. The net score after deductions was 308 3/8.
A non-typical rack is asymmetrical and does not have the same number of points on each side like a typical rack.
The current state record, a buck killed by Dave Wachtel in Sumner County in 2000, grossed 256 points and netted 244 3/8.
The world record killed in 2003 by Tony Lovstuen in Albia, Iowa, had 38 points and scored 307 5/8 net.
Tucker's deer is pending an official Boone and Crockett score by a panel, which will include Grandstaff and take place after the 60-day drying out period.
"When we panel score it as a group we could come up with a similar score right at what it is now," Grandstaff said. "It may be an inch less than what I have it at. It may be an inch or two or three more. It just depends on how we as a group decide it needs to be scored. Right now it's a green score because I just wanted to give (Tucker) an idea because I knew he would get a thousand phone calls once word gets out and they're all going to say, 'What did it score?'"
Saturday was the opening of muzzleloader hunting season in Tennessee.
Tucker, who farms for a living, did not weigh the deer before having it processed, but he estimated it weighed just over 150 pounds.
Grandstaff said the deer was likely 3 1/2 years old.
After killing the deer, Tucker said, he believed it might be a state record, and that is why he notified the TWRA.
"I realize there's only a possibility that it's going to be a world record; all we're worried about right now is that it's the state record," Tucker said. "If it is the world record, that would be great. But I'm not getting my hopes up on that."
Regardless, Grandstaff said Tucker should be happy with his unique kill.
"A deer like this deer doesn't come along very often," Grandstaff said. "The field pictures don't really do it justice. You would have had to actually see it to understand the amount of non-typical growth it has."
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.