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Big Buck: 15-Year-Old Texas Girl Shoots a 23-Point, Youth-Record Whitetail

Makayla Hay had her eye on a gnarly 23-point buck as the Texas firearms opener approached—but then so did almost every other deer hunter in Madison County after a photograph of the bruiser swimming the Trinity River appeared in the local newspaper in October.

Makayla and her father, Jim, knew the photograph was taken near their deer lease, and they joked about the possibility of seeing the buck. When Jim dropped 15-year-old Makayla off at her tree stand on Nov. 2, she told him that she was going to wait for the river rack to show. "He said, 'You're not going to be able to be that patient,'" Makayla recalls. "I've never really waited a long time to kill a buck, but I said, 'Oh, no, I'm waiting for the deer in the picture.'"

Sure enough, when a "pretty nice 8-pointer" came out shortly after first light, she let it pass. But she did send her dad a text saying she had her backup buck in case the big deer didn't show. A few minutes later, less than an hour into the season, the buck did show. "I didn't know for sure it was the buck from the photo, but I did know it was bigger than anything I'd ever killed," Makayla says. She loaded her rifle and watched calmly as the buck turned broadside, then dropped it with a shoulder shot. When the deer lunged to its feet, she shot it again.

Only after her father came and they walked over to the deer together did she know that she had indeed shot the buck from the newspaper photograph. "My dad said, 'You did it. You shot the buck from the river,'" Makayla said. "I couldn't believe it, because it seemed to me like the deer in the picture wasn't real. He said, 'I told you it was a real deer.'"

Real—and real big. The 23-pointer green-scored 213 2/8 gross, 203 1/8 net. If the score holds up after the 60-day drying period, Texas officials say, it will likely stand as the biggest free-ranging non-typical ever taken by a youth hunter in Texas. It would also be the biggest Madison County buck in the last 46 years, and second only to a 223 2/8 inch 24-pointer shot in 1967.

While Makayla might have taken some ribbing in years past for being quick on the trigger, she is a serious hunter who always tries to shoot successively bigger bucks each season. "She's better at aging deer on the hoof than a lot of men," says her mother, Mary Hay. "Her daddy always tells her, 'You gotta keep shooting bigger.' And now he's like, 'Well, what are you gonna do now?'"

"I told him I would wait," Makayla says with a laugh. "I waited. It only took until 7:30 on opening day, but I waited."

Comments (12)

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from acemoose wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Wow! More power to her!!! All good things come to those who wait

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jacob Bullion wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

I got to see that buck first hand at the taxidermist and it's amazing! Congratulations and great job Makayla!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jeremy Shepherd wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Good for her!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cindy Roupp wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

all I can say is WOW, u go girl

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from terwilliam wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Congratulations, what a deer! It's going to be hard to top that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahboy wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

whew cute girl, giant buck. I got to say that the biggest whitetail that i have ever seen, even bigger than most mulees that ive see and i have see huge mulees

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowguy6633 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Nice looking deer you got there. I am impressed of how big and ugly the antlers are.
I bet you got some proud parents!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowguy6633 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Nice looking deer you got there. I am impressed of how big and ugly the antlers are.
I bet you got some proud parents!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckblind59 wrote 18 weeks 14 hours ago

Good for you girl. It's a shame you won't grow up experiencing the excitement of seeing a buck! Shooting it.
Leases and fences ...

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from maxevan wrote 18 weeks 5 hours ago

Awesome 23pt nonTypical Texas Buck Makayla You got to love taking down such a Beautiful Buck such at that and the news Paper story leading up to the perfect Shot Way to Go Girl !!!
you must be the envy of many Hunters in your area I wish you all the Luck in 2014 Makayla Knock down another BIG ONE Girl Congrads Dad you raised her up Right you must be proud .

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rockylizard wrote 17 weeks 6 days ago

That is a buck and a hunt to be proud of...letting the younger one walk to wait for the monster. I hope she had it mounted! What an amazing story! May you have many more successful hunts, young lady!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Out_of_order_JA... wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

great job! that's about how long I imagine waiting when I talk about waiting for the big buck ;)

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from acemoose wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Wow! More power to her!!! All good things come to those who wait

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from maxevan wrote 18 weeks 5 hours ago

Awesome 23pt nonTypical Texas Buck Makayla You got to love taking down such a Beautiful Buck such at that and the news Paper story leading up to the perfect Shot Way to Go Girl !!!
you must be the envy of many Hunters in your area I wish you all the Luck in 2014 Makayla Knock down another BIG ONE Girl Congrads Dad you raised her up Right you must be proud .

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jacob Bullion wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

I got to see that buck first hand at the taxidermist and it's amazing! Congratulations and great job Makayla!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jeremy Shepherd wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Good for her!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cindy Roupp wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

all I can say is WOW, u go girl

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from terwilliam wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Congratulations, what a deer! It's going to be hard to top that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahboy wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

whew cute girl, giant buck. I got to say that the biggest whitetail that i have ever seen, even bigger than most mulees that ive see and i have see huge mulees

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowguy6633 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Nice looking deer you got there. I am impressed of how big and ugly the antlers are.
I bet you got some proud parents!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowguy6633 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Nice looking deer you got there. I am impressed of how big and ugly the antlers are.
I bet you got some proud parents!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rockylizard wrote 17 weeks 6 days ago

That is a buck and a hunt to be proud of...letting the younger one walk to wait for the monster. I hope she had it mounted! What an amazing story! May you have many more successful hunts, young lady!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Out_of_order_JA... wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

great job! that's about how long I imagine waiting when I talk about waiting for the big buck ;)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckblind59 wrote 18 weeks 14 hours ago

Good for you girl. It's a shame you won't grow up experiencing the excitement of seeing a buck! Shooting it.
Leases and fences ...

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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