Still August and we have our first big deer on the ground!
My hunting buddy Krista, who stared leukemia in the face and beat it, shot this bruiser the other night. When I saw him stroll out into the food plot in the fading light, I knew he was at least 5 years old. The guy who manages the plantation where we hunted has seen this buck for a few years, and figures he’s 6 or 7. Last year the deer’s rack had the same strong left side, and a lesser 4-point right side. This year his right side was just a huge spike, with a weird 3-inch kicker at the antler base. Injured or was that right side going downhill? In any event, he was an ancient 5-pointer with real character.
To shoot an old buck like this is a real accomplishment in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where the rifle season comes in August 15 and runs until January. These are some of the toughest deer I have ever hunted. Even this early in the season, having not been hunted or pressured for a year, the bucks still come to the fields right at dark, or after dark. All whitetails are wind sensitive, but these deer are incredibly touchy. If just one doe gets one little whiff of a man scent, it will spook all the deer in the area, and you won’t see a buck that evening. Wild, challenging deer, the kind you and I love to hunt.
This hunt was a 2-year journey by me and Krista, who I met last fall at an event put together by the Outdoor Dream Foundation. Brad Jones and his team of volunteers have dedicated their lives to taking kids with cancer on hunting and fishing adventures. They do amazing work, and I am proud and honored to work with them.
Krista is a fun, vibrant, incredibly well-mannered 15-year-old who lights up a room (or deer blind) when she steps into it. Her parents, Debbie and David, are strong and exceptional people. Krista got cancer when she was 7, and the family battled through some dark and trying times. But thank the Lord, Krista is doing well now. A typical teenager and sophomore, she’s into a lot of things—her iPhone, the beach…and deer hunting.
Krista and I first hunted together in SC last October. We saw some deer but couldn’t get our buck. We tried again in December, and again no success. I told you these deer are tough. But she and I were determined to make it happen. With all that Krista has gone through in her young life, waiting another year to get her buck was no big deal.
When that old deer marched to within 110 yards last Friday evening, I whispered to Krista to get ready. She lined up the 7mm-08 and told me, “I can do this.” “I know you can,” I whispered. She took a breath, pressed the trigger and drilled the buck through the lungs. He ran maybe 30 yards.
I have walked up on a lot of bucks in my day, but none more beautiful and special than this one. Krista gave me hug, touched his rack and, with a tear in her eye, said, “He’s perfect.”
I can’t wait for you to see this show next summer on The Sportsman Channel. What a perfect way to start the season.