A lot of bucks get caught with their guard down in the opening week of deer season.

Leon Murph is certainly happy they do. It took the Hartsville hunter 30 minutes to set the bar high for the rest of his season – he took a 150-class 11-pointer in Orangeburg County on Friday, Aug. 17.

Murph found that fresh-cut corn and his single-shot Winchester .270 WSM was the right recipe for a real trophy.

 

Headed to his hunt club, Murph got word that the lower end of his favorite corn field had been cut, and he knew exactly where to set up for his afternoon hunt. The corn was about as freshly cut as it gets – the combine harvester and grain trailer were still parked along the edge of the field – and half the field was still not harvested.

Of the nearly 2,500 acres of forests and fields in Murph's club, this particular 200-acre field has always attracted a high percentage of the local herd after the annual rotation of corn and soybeans. A few weeks earlier, Murph spooked a heavy-antlered buck bedded along the edge of the field while sprucing up the camouflage on the stand.

"I am almost 99-percent certain that this was the same buck we spooked on the work day," he said.

A busy day at work caused Murph to arrive at his club barely in time to hunt. As he pulled into the field, three does flushed from the cut corn and raced into the woods.

Murph slipped into his tripod stand overlooking the field at approximately 6:30. Within 30 minutes, a doe walked out of the hardwoods and into the field just beyond the combine harvester. A few minutes later, the big buck walking into the field, following in the doe's footsteps.

"I threw the scope up on him, and all I could see was antlers," said Murph, who didn't take more than an instant to judge the buck as eligible for harvest under the club's trophy management guidelines. "I took a deep breath and squeezed.

Immediately, the buck bolted off into the hardwoods.

Murph climbed down and found his trophy buck, which weighed 184 pounds and sported an 18 ¼-inch inside spread, lying just 30 yards into the woods. Preliminary measurements from his taxidermist give this buck a score between 151 and 152 inches. 

"I was surprised to get one like this so early in the year, but it's a buck of a lifetime for me," he said.