Art Graybill

Art Graybill, 91, poses with his birthday buck.

On Oct. 28, Art Graybill celebrated his 91st birthday.

The retired East Cocalico Township farmer also shot a score of 86 on a birthday round of golf at the Foxchase Golf Club he helped found, which is now run by his son, Steve Graybill.

The very next day, Graybill shot the biggest buck of his life on the family farm.

"It was good couple of days," Graybill said with a laugh.

A lifelong hunter and Denver area resident, Graybill has been around long enough to know that bagging a big buck in northeast Lancaster County is something that wasn't always possible.

"When I was younger, we didn't have any deer around here," he said. "There weren't any. Then a few started to show up in the Furnace Hills, and eventually we started seeing them on the farm."

Graybill has a cabin in Tioga County, where he has done most of the deer hunting in his life. That's where he shot the last buck he tagged, three years ago.

Pennsylvania's deer population grew steadily over Graybill's nine-plus decades, and as it has grown, deer have spread to every corner of the state - including northeast Lancaster County.

And not only are there now deer in the Denver area, but there are some big deer.

Graybill has seen big bucks on his family's farms, and trail cameras have taken photos of even more.

Graybill's son Steve got trail camera photos of a particularly big eight pointer in mid October, and he suggested his dad go hunt for it Oct. 29.

"I wasn't going to go out, but Steve told me I should go and see if this deer came by," Graybill said. "So I took my lawn chair and I went and sat up against a tree in the brush."

Around 5 p.m., Graybill spotted some does in a lane cut in the brush in front of him, and not long after, a buck showed up.

"I didn't have to look for horns," he said. "I could see them really clear. They were big."

Graybill leveled the crosshairs of his crossbow's scope on the chest of the big buck and he squeezed the trigger. The bolt found its mark.

"It all happened kind of fast," he said. "The buck was just there, and I shot."

After walking up on the big buck, Graybill called his son.

"I said, 'Hey, you saw the trail camera picture of that big buck. Maybe you'd like to come see him up close,'" Graybill said.

That he shot the biggest buck he's ever shot on his own farm in northeast Lancaster County, at the age of 91, is something Graybill doesn't take lightly.

"It's pretty special, I'll tell you," he said.

Graybill took the eight-point buck to a local taxidermist for mounting, and the taxidermist told him the deer was 4.5 years old and the antlers measure just under 140 inches.

"I shot an 86 on Monday and I shot my biggest buck right after that," Graybill said. "A lot of good things happen on my birthday."