By Stan Courtnay
-- It was halfway through the four-month-long deer season in South Carolina. I was frustrated because I’d taken only one doe. In most seasons, I usually have at least three deer in the freezer by mid-November.
But this year was different. It was unusually warm, and the bucks were still rutting hard.
I got in my stand about 5:45. Around 6:30, I turned over a bleat can to try to excite a local buck. Nothing.
About 15 minutes later, I did it again twice, one right after the other. A minute later, I heard a sound and I turned to look at the source. A buck was running toward me, apparently looking for the “doe.”
I bleated with my mouth, and the buck came to a sliding halt. I fired, and the deer could run no farther than 40 yards.
Little did I know this was just the beginning.
Every deer season, I get together with my two best friends, Justin and Max, and we head down to some land that Max’s family owns in the South Carolina Low Country. The three of us have been doing this annually since we were in high school.
Justin and I arrived at our destination on Friday around 3 p.m. We greeting Max’s family, and then the three of us headed to the clubhouse.
Max and I decided to hunt a couple of fields in the same area; Justin would set up on a different field about a mile away.
I didn’t see a deer the first evening, but Max and Justin saw plenty – 10 deer including a big buck that spooked just as Max was ready to fire. Justin saw about five deer, all does.
That night, we sat around a table telling stories and laughing for hours. Then came the serious topics: the next morning and our last hunt. Justin wanted to hunt in the same stand, hoping one of the does would lure a big buck out of the hardwood swamp nearby. Max suggested that we swap stands. Neither had been hunted in the morning all year.
I got into my stand around 5:45 a.m. with high expectations. There was good light around 6:15, but I heard no shots and the field was empty. I thought nothing was going to happen this morning.
Around 6:40, a very large deer emerged from a point that juts out in the field about 150 yards from the stand site. The buck had a very big body, but I could not see the antlers well. He deer was pawing the ground and licking the branch above its head. Finally the buck took a couple of steps into the field, and I saw a very large rack.
One side of his rack looked bigger then the other, but I still could not see well enough to count points. I knew that he was a shooter, though.
The farther into the field he walked, the more I began to shake. Finally he stopped, quartering towards me. I pulled the trigger.
Max heard the shot and came to join me in the search. We could find no blood on the field. Then Max walked up to the edge of the woods and looked in. Fifteen yards into the woods was my buck.
The non-typical 12-pointer weighed 180 pounds.
The next day was Thanksgiving. After spending the day with my family I called up my buddy Jordan, who I don’t see often because he is a missionary in South America.
Jordan put me in a stand on a small food plot. I was still on a high from the big buck I’d taken the previous day.
About 15 minutes before dark, I started to hear something coming my way. I could tell there were two of them, but I didn’t know if they were hogs or deer.
Right before dark, one stepped out, a big buck. I quickly had my gun on him. Once he stopped, I centered the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger. He dropped right where he stood.
He was a beautiful 9-pointer. It was the best week of hunting I ever had.