Approximately five years ago, my dad bought a pine tree farm with the hopes of us performing some quality deer management that would leave us with more than a few “above average” whitetails for South Carolina.
With only a few pine trees over seven feet tall, we ‘brushed in’ our ground blinds that first year with little hope. However, the thought of a big buck still gets you in that seat. As luck would have it, on opening day five years ago, my very first “sit” at the farm, a buck we had seen on camera showed up at 5:45 p.m. This is much earlier than you’d ever expect a buck to walk.
If you know me, you know how excited I get this time of the year. Forget buck fever, I get doe fever! So when this buck was at about 10 yards, I drew back, never anchored to the bowstring, and just let it fly. My heart stopped as I had just blown the opportunity of a lifetime. I’d shot it well over 15 feet over his back. That was the best chance I’d had a deer in camp… until now.
On August 15th, the opening day of 2022, I made the walk to The Sand Hill, my favorite hunting spot on the farm. This is a perfect confluence of wildlife where they emerge from the pines from the east and the oak branch from the west. A perfect crossing point. Over the past five years, we’ve had plenty of great deer on camera. And plenty of times, we’ve thought we had them patterned. But as many of you know, they’re much smarter than we give them credit for. Still, we had a few deer frequenting the area regularly and I was optimistic that this opening day would be the day.
I got in the blind at 4:30 p.m., knowing I’d sit well past sunset. As 8 o’clock came around, I had only seen a hen and her poults. My optimism was fading. However, at 8:08 p.m., I picked my head up, and just like clockwork, a buck we had patterned was cutting across the hill. As fast as it happened 5 years ago, I had drawn back and knew the deer was grazing perfectly at 20-yards. Except this time, I took a deep breath. For the first time in my life, I took the time to compose myself ahead of a shot. *Breaths out*. *Punches release*.
I grabbed my phone and texted my dad – “smoked him!” Joy rushed over me. A perfect pass-through. I wait a few minutes to go look for blood and find his trail. However, there is little to no blood. I get nervous and anxious. Then my dad shows up. He doesn’t seem too happy either. My dad barrels through the hardwoods, hoping to stumble across him, but I stay drip by drip with the blood trail. After about 75 yards, it opens up. It’s clear to me this deer won’t make it much longer.
As the night takes over, it’s just a headlamp guiding my way through the woods. About 150 yards from the point of contact, the beach buck of a lifetime lay curled up between two trees with a perfect double lung entry and exit wound.
A sigh of relief and a moment of gratitude came over me. This was my first South Carolina archery buck and it honestly meant more to me than any South Texas trophy I had shot. This was such a special moment for my dad and me. This was the first buck taken from the property. This was everything we had hoped for and more. A great deer and a great memory.