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FARMINGTON — David Howell lifted his .300 Remington Ultra Magnum rifle the evening before Thanksgiving and fired a shot that downed the biggest buck he's seen in his 38 years of hunting.

The 232-inch, 7 by 7 mule deer was first spotted 10 days prior in game management unit 2B, located east of Bloomfield, by Lori Truby, who told Howell about it.

Howell, of Farmington, won a special governor's tag in a raffle, which allowed him to hunt deer in any game management unit throughout the hunting season, which runs from Sept. 31 to Jan. 31.

He said he had lots of friends helping him spot bucks throughout the season, including local guide Anthony Hampton, who was with him the evening Nov. 26.

Hampton said he had been out east of Bloomfield with his father earlier that morning looking for bucks.

"We saw a 200-inch buck that morning, but he was still not big enough for what we were looking for," he said. "We told Dave that we saw a good buck. He said he could tag along with us."

The men drove out to the game management unit and spotted the buck standing on the side of a rarely traveled road.

Hampton said they were about 100 yards away from the buck with good visibility.

Asked what was going through his mind, Howell said, "Let me put it this way: I didn't reach for my binoculars. I reached for my gun."

Both men said it was one of the biggest bucks they had ever seen, and Hampton said only one or two deer more than 230 inches is shot every year.

"I was very fortunate to have won the tag and to have seen a deer like that," Howell said.

Hampton said he is in the process of mounting the deer's head, which will take anywhere from six to nine months.

Howell said he will likely have to take down a smaller head to replace it with his new trophy.

According to the Boone and Crockett Club, a national hunting and conservation organization, a typical mule deer antler has four points per side, plus the eye guards.

The 232 inches refers to the distance separating the antlers, from point to point, as well as the length and width of the antlers.

Steve Garrison is a reporter for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.

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