Sometimes the best endings are the ones that come as a complete surprise.
Larry Rhoden of Boiling Springs in Spartanburg County did not get to hunt during bow season and he did not really expect to shoot a buck on the afternoon of Oct. 12, the opening day of gun season.
“The place where I hunt near Pauline is small, only 25 acres with woods around it. I did kill a 4-point there during bow season one year, but I usually just see does down there,” Rhoden said.
About 5:45 p.m. a little doe came out and started feeding in the food plot in front of his ground blind. “This might be a good night,” Rhoden thought. That was bolstered half an hour later when another doe walked out and started feeding.
“I watched her for a long time and then I looked to my right toward a creek and cut-over and saw a big doe, a mature doe.”
Rhoden was waiting for the doe to step into the food plot when he saw a form behind the doe. It was a buck with a big rack.
“My heart started going fast,” Rhoden said. “When he came out he put his head down and started chasing the doe. I said, 'Lord, let me drop this deer'.”
He raised the rifle and yelled three times as loud as he could to get the buck's attention. When the buck stopped and looked towards Rhoden, he squeezed the trigger. The buck fell in his tracks and Rhoden checked out the rack in his scope.
“It was about 100 yards and when I saw that rack I said, 'I've got a wall hanger.' I waited about 10 minutes and hollered again and when he did not get up I was just in heaven,” Rhoden said.
He drove the deer to his hunt club to show it to his buddies and one of them asked, “What did you do, drive to Illinois to get that buck?”
“Larry sent me a picture of the buck and said he was bringing it to me to mount. It did not look all that big in the picture, but when I set it on my table I told him it definitely would make the South Carolina record book,” said taxidermist Donnie Simpson at Killin' & Reelin' Outdoors, LLC., in Spartanburg.
Simpson measured the rack at 149 3/8 gross and estimated it would score 144 net. The right main beam was 25 inches and the left was 24 inches. Both G1s were 5 4/8. The right G2 was 9 4/8 and the left was 10 1/8. The right G4 was 8 4/8 and the left was 8 1/8. The inside spread was 17 2/8 inches.
“Pictures can be deceiving,” Simpson said.
“I've killed some really nice bucks, but nothing like this one,” Rhoden said. “But, that's just hunting. You go and you never know what's going to happen.”
Sometimes it's a really nice surprise.