The first deer I took with my bow was in 2001. Then I tried to shoot target archery and 3D target competitions, but I couldn’t do very well at those sports, because I got target panic. I couldn’t hit where I tried to aim. I sure didn’t want to shoot a deer and not make a good clean shot. So, I decided I wouldn’t hunt with my bow until I solved the problem of target panic. I was introduced to another Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, Jeremy Seymour. He helped me overcome my target panic, and he and I started hunting together.
After I got over my target panic, I took a small 8 point. On that hunt, my brother had found some good property that Clemson University owned where he and I could hunt. On the first morning we went to hunt this newfound property that my brother had been scouting, he gave me instructions on how to get to the place he thought I should hunt. He told me, “Go down this road we’re on down to the point where it dead ends. Then turn to the right, walk a little ways, and climb a tree.” I didn’t know where I was supposed to be looking, where the deer might come from, and how far he would be from my tree stand, but I followed my brother’s instructions. I hadn’t been in the tree very long when a nice 8-point buck came walking into an opening. I shot the buck when he was at about 8 yards with my bow.
I'm not a trophy hunter. I feed my family with the venison I take. I try to take three or four deer, butcher them and put the meat in the freezer. That feeds my family of four well throughout most of the year. Although most of the deer I take are does, I took a buck with 4 antlers on one side. But some of the pressure of taking deer for the freezer is off me now, because my 14-year-old son Connor and my daughter, Carson, who just started college this year, both hunt. So, if each of them takes a deer, then there’s not as much pressure on me to get four deer each year, since their deer go in my freezer. Now I plan to spend more time bowhunting and less time rifle hunting and search for bigger bucks. I don’t really think there are as many big bucks here in South Carolina as there are in many other states, but we do have a large number of deer.
South Carolina had such a liberal bag limit in the past, and hunters were allowed to take as many bucks and does as they wanted to during hunting season, that many hunters thought that South Carolinians loaded their trucks with deer each season. But that’s not true. Most of us only will take the number of deer we want to put in our freezer and/or give to our family and friends. So, even though our state does have liberal bag limits, very rarely does a hunter take as many deer as he can.
If I take a hog, I usually give it away. If I see a hog I want to shoot, if I don’t have someone to give the meat to, I won’t kill it. We’re much like the hunters in Alabama when several years ago they legally could harvest over 100 deer per season. However, surveys of deer hunters in Alabama indicated that the average hunter only took 1 to 1-1/2 deer per season. The South Carolinian hunter’s philosophy is: if I don’t need the meat, or I don’t know someone who does need the meat, why take the animal? Don’t get me wrong, I'm not against trophy hunters, but that’s just the way I hunt.
Day 3: Take South Carolina Deer in the Heat
Tomorrow: 30 Years of Mossy Oak: Dick and Chris Kirby