For two months, hunters armed with arrow-slinging devices, blackpowder cannons and assorted other modern weapons have searched forests, fields and riverbottoms in search of a trophy buck. Even though a few bucks may have already begun their annual mating ritual — rubbing trees, pawing the ground and sniffing their future mates’ backsides — the glory days of the deer season in the Tarheel State have arrived. And there is never a more perfect time to pull out the stops and shift to a more active strategy with a grunt call and a pair of antler sheds.
Lodge Road is usually a quiet stretch, cut straight as an arrow through thick, Pender County pocosin habitat. Pickup trucks make the dust rise on the days when Holly Shelter Game Land is open for big- and small-game hunting. On days when waterfowl hunting is allowed, the reach along the northern edge of Lodge Road Impoundment rarely had traffic as heavy.
Ethan Amerson of Timmonsville trudged through knee-deep water, protected by a pair of waders but still feeling enough of the chill to keep him fully in touch with his surroundings. Guided by the faint light of the early morning sky through flooded cypress knees that gave way to a long, narrow clearing of thigh-deep water, Amerson pitched a pair of mallard decoys out and made his way to the spot he wanted to stand, watching his brother, Chuck, toss out two wood duck decoys to his right and friend Scott Rollins of Bishopville putting two teal decoys in the drink to his left.
For three years, I hunted this same buck with only fleeting sightings of him — usually in the opening week and during the rut. Not once did I ever have even a remote opportunity to draw my bow. I knew something would have to change or he would die of old age or at the hands of a hunter on an adjacent property.
On a steel-gray, November afternoon, Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters cruised the lower section of the North Edisto River, checking areas where he’d been catching speckled trout to see which one best fit the level of the rising tide.
Imagine spending six days on a jungle island; deer-hunting when you have a hankerin’, fishing when you feel like it, and sitting by a campfire at night eating and drinking like some banana republic royalty.
Aaron Bates of Wadesboro killed this trophy buck in Anson County in mid-September, hunting out of a ground blind set up for his father.