-By Rich Miller
You wait all year long for opening day of hunting season and when it gets here it is never what you expect. There are a lot of things that can affect the outcome of a hunt. When opening day arrives the hunt never seems to work out the way we have imagined it to. No matter what conditions greet us, we have to go and give it a try because the season is open.
Our deer season opened in the lower part of South Carolina on August 15th and because of work I didn’t have the chance to go until this past weekend. I worked a store promotion Friday afternoon not far from a farm that I have had the good fortune to hunt over the last 12 years. I had made plans to try to make it to the stand after I left the store.
When I left the store it was storming badly and I was debating on whether or not to even try to go to the stand. When I arrived at the farm the rain had stopped and the temperature was 79 degrees which is about 15 degrees below what it normally is this time of year.
I was hunting a peanut field and had a long walk across it to get to the stand. When I got about halfway to the stand I noticed some deer were already in the far corner of the field. They were a long way from where I was and luckily the stand I was going to was in between me and the deer. I didn’t think I would be able to make it to the stand without spooking them but I hunkered down and eased to the stand and made it.
When I got settled in the stand and started glassing the field there were around twenty deer already in the field and nine of them were bucks. This farm has been strictly managed since my buddy Mark took control of it 12 years ago. For a buck to be taken it has to be a mature deer, it doesn’t matter what size rack he has as long as he is five years or older. Since I started hunting this place I have never shot a buck.
The bucks that were already in the field were all 3 year olds and younger but several of them were showing a lot of promise. These deer stayed in the field the entire evening and around seven o’clock they were joined by three buddies. When I laid eyes on these three deer I went from watching deer to trying to figure out which one I wanted to shoot. These deer weren’t the kind that needed to be judged they were all nice deer but one of them was a sure enough a monster. I ranged the deer and was getting ready for a shot, but that was the tough part. Every time I would get ready to shoot the deer would move or another deer would get in the way. Eventually the monster buck got in the open and I made the shot. As soon as the rifle bellowed a shot and the recoil was over all I could see was deer running everywhere and I couldn’t tell where my deer went. When I looked at where the deer had been standing I couldn’t see anything there.
I had marked where the deer was before I shot so I got out of the stand and headed that way before it got dark. The whole walk over there I was expecting to find my deer lying in the field. When I got to the last spot I had seen the deer I didn’t find any sign that I had hit the deer. After searching until it got dark I went and met Mark to tell him the whole story. We decided to get his tracking dog and make sure it was a clean miss. We ended up searching until after eleven o’clock that night and never found anything.
This was my first hunt of the year and up until the shot it was a perfect first hunt of the year. That deer was the biggest deer that I have ever laid eyes on in my home state. Needless to say, I have been sick since Friday. I don’t know what happened. I was settled in and made a good shot or so I thought. The only thing I can tell is I shot where he wasn’t. I have had visions of that buck in my head since Friday. The season can only get better after that hunt.