"At first I thought it had a 10-point rack," Crowder said. "But then I looked closer and started counting. By the time I stopped counting, that '10-pointer' had turned into a 15-pointer."
Excited by his good fortune, the young hunter pulled out his cellphone and started calling people.
"I got hold of my stepfather and told him I had a buck down. Then I called my mom. She didn't believe me. Up to that time, I had only gotten antlerless deer. She didn't believe I had a buck, let alone a trophy," Crowder said.
Before taking the buck to a game-checking station, Crowder ran it by the Elkview Kmart store to show it to a friend who worked there. The buck drew a crowd.
"People were taking pictures of it like crazy. When I took it to Smith's to get it checked, the same thing happened there," Crowder said.
Through the magic of the Internet, Crowder and his buck became instant celebrities. Bystanders uploaded their photos to outdoors-related forums and chat rooms. Almost immediately, messages that said, "Hey, I know that buck!" started appearing.
"People started uploading trail cam pictures of that buck," Crowder said. "They called it, 'The Elkview Monster.' Some people who lived on the other side of the hill from where I killed the buck said they had found a shed antler that exactly matched one of my buck's antlers."
Double brow tines and a couple of sizable odd points kept the buck's rack from scoring as well as Crowder hoped it might.
"It scored 159 5/8 as a typical, which was pretty disappointing," he said. "As a non-typical, it scored 180. I think I'm going to use the non-typical score."
Crowder knows he's unlikely to ever kill a buck as big as his first one.
Somewhat surprisingly, he's OK with that.
"Now I want to go for a buck that has a perfect six- or eight-point rack,'' he said. "I'll probably end up hunting the rest of my life and not get one, but that's my goal."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.