A 'Monster' Red Stag Deer Over 300 lbs. Appeared in Alabama and a Teenager Hunted it at His Grandfather's Request

Zack Love

An enormous red stag deer "not native to North America" made appearances on a goat farm in East Alabama, and one teenager had the heart and tenacity to hunt it at his grandfather's request. Read the incredible story.

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A Red stag deerPhoto byPhoto by Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash

A teenage hunter from Roanoke, Alabama can now say he’s done something that very few have done, and that’s hunted a red stag deer in Alabama.

Coye Potts, 16, is still in high school, but he has now hunted a species of deer that most hunters in Alabama, (and likely in the whole Southeastern U.S.), have never encountered before. Compared to a white-tailed deer, the red stag deer is a “monster” by comparison.

The red stag deer or “red deer” is not known to have a natural population in the state of Alabama. 

The Ledger-Enquirer reported that the red stag is a rare deer species, not native to North America, yet this one was wandering around Randolph County, Alabama.

The website “Red Stag Patagonia” says on its page for Red Stag that today, “Argentina and Chile boast the largest herds of red stag in the world.”

So again, how did a red stag end up in Randolph County, Alabama?

This answer remains a mystery, but some people think they have a theory. More on that in a moment.

The Backstory: The Red Stag Sightings Started About a Year Ago

This very deer has been seen before in Randolph County, more specifically, on Coye’s grandfather’s property. His grandfather, Philip Taylor, has a goat pasture located about 6 miles from the Alabama-Georgia state border in Rock Mills, Alabama.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported that around a year ago, Taylor would periodically see a deer that, in his words, “Looked like a darn moose,” given its large stature, that would wander out into his goat pasture.

The sightings of this massive deer became more frequent in October 2022, eating apples and pears off of Taylor’s trees.

Philip Taylor contacted his grandson, Coye, who has a hunting license, to try and find the red stag deer. Coye got to work building a homemade blind using burlap sacks and sticks, so he could be ready to get a glimpse of the “monster” deer at sunrise.

Other veteran hunters in the area have been trying to find this “elusive animal for months,” but were unable to find it. It was Coye and a friend, that patiently waited for it one early morning.

A Boy in High School Shot Down the ‘Monster’ Deer with a Crossbow

The Ledger-Enquirer reported that 16-year-old Coye Potts of Roanoke, AL waited for the massive buck with his crossbow. On the first two attempts, he was not successful, but it was the third time, he brought a friend to spot for him.

Coye’s friend, Hudson Vowell, came with him on this third attempt to hunt the red stag deer. Vowell was using a rangefinder to spot him. After waiting about 90 minutes in the homemade blind, the red deer emerged from the woods into the field of view. They waited patiently under the red stag deer that was about 30 yards away.

Coye took the shot when it was close enough, and it was the perfect shot.

Coye’s friend, Hudson was amazed.

He said:

“Coye definitely had it,” Hudson said. “… Your adrenaline starts pumping, and your whole body starts shaking. -Hudson Vowell, Coye’s friend and witness (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

Hudson believes this was a rare event he may not ever see again in his lifetime.

He said:

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don’t think I’ll ever see another deer that big or a red stag in general that someone didn’t pay for, walking around in Alabama freely.” -Hudson Vowell, Coye’s friend and witness (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

This was Coye’s first kill as a hunter and he was in awe.

He said:

“My first-ever deer,” Coye said, “and it happened to be a monster red stag. I was just in complete awe.” -Coye Potts (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

His grandfather, Philip Taylor had great things to say about Coye.

He said:

“Coye was so excited, he was about to cry,” the grandfather said. “… He’s just an amazing kid. … Lord, have mercy, it was something to see.” -Philip Taylor, Coye Potts’ grandfather (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

One might ask, “Why did Coye shoot it with a crossbow?”

This is because gun hunting season has not yet begun in Alabama.

The red stag deer’s weight was estimated at over 300 pounds, which is not unusual for a red stag deer. Wikipedia notes that a typical male red stag weighs between 350 to 530 lbs.

Getting the Red Stag Deer to the Processor

The red stag deer was so large, it took four people to get the red stag into the GMC Z71 pickup to get to the deer processor.

Coye drove the buck over to the East Alabama Deer processing and called the owner, Justin Benefield, given that it was early in the morning.

Benefield told Coye to tag it and leave it in the outdoor cooler. There was only one problem: He couldn't get it in the cooler.

Coye said to Benefield:

“Sir, this is a little extraordinary,” he told him. “This is not no normal deer. I killed that red stag. … I need help. My adrenaline is pumping, but I don’t think I can get it in the cooler.” -Coye Potts (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

Benefield made a concerted effort to head on over to his business to check out the massive red stag buck.

Even the deer processor, Justin Benefield, at East Alabama Deer Processing, had been hearing the hunters talk about this red stag for about 7 or 8 months. When he saw it with his own eyes, he had never seen a deer like this before.

It was reportedly so heavy, it maxed out one of the processor’s game scales, and was too heavy for the other. (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

This is very telling about how rare it is for a deer of this size to be hunted in this area.

Justin Benefield said this about the origin of the red stag deer:

“Even though this thing was obviously raised in a high-fence farm,” he said, “how cool is it that it had the opportunity to get out and experience what it has since it’s been out and legally harvested in a state that it’s not even native to? Man, I wish I could have had a shot at it. … There were a lot of jealous people who didn’t get the opportunity to do it.” -Justin Benefield, owner of East Alabama Deer Processing (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

Benefield also spoke of the proficiency of Coye to have killed such a large buck with a crossbow.

He said:

“If you’ve got a high-caliber rifle, and you see that thing 300 yards away, it never even knows you’re there,” he said. “You can drop it in its tracks. He was using a crossbow, which is a lot more consistent and accurate than a compound, but it’s still a challenge because you have to be within range. … First kill for a hunter making a heart shot on a 300-some-odd-plus-animal, it’s almost unheard of.” When he arrived at his shop and saw the red stag, Benefield thought, “Man, this is the luckiest kid alive. In the state of Alabama, you just don’t get that opportunity, a hit-the-lottery type of thing. There’s no telling on a paid hunt how much it would cost.” -Justin Benefield, owner of East Alabama Deer Processing (Source: Ledger-Enquirer)

Other veteran hunters in the area had been trying to find this “elusive animal for months,” but it was Coye that got the kill.

The red stag deer was an 11-point buck and can be seen in the photo below.

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Coye Potts with the Red Stag DeerPhoto byTiffany Potts

Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

The Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources provides guidelines on hunting “white-tailed deer” in Alabama, which it states on its website: “The White-tailed deer is the number one game animal hunted in Alabama.” For obvious reasons already stated, almost all of the deer hunting in Alabama are of white-tailed variety, with no mention of the non-native red stag deer.

This was quite an experience for Coye Potts to hunt a “monster” deer on his first-ever successful hunt. He now has an impressive story for the rest of his life and can say that he actually took down a red stag in Alabama.

Coye Potts may still be in high school, but this was definitely an experience that shows he is on his way to becoming a man, and probably quite a hunter.

Sources

OutdoorAlabama.com: “Deer Hunting in Alabama.”

Rice, Mark. “Teen kills ‘monster’ deer in Alabama. Mystery remains how this rare species got there.” Ledger-Enquirer. 26 November 2022.

Wikipedia entry: “Red deer

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Zack covers interesting and inspiring news stories that impact local communities. He has a bachelor's degree and an MBA.

Huntsville, AL
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