Especially this year. The Marchants, who hail from Harleyville, put close to 270 inches of antler on the ground the first week of the season in the Lowcountry.
He took a tall, clean 8-pointer in full velvet that he estimates will score in the 130s, on Aug. 16 in Orangeburg County. She took a big 9-pointer in Dorchester County on Aug. 20 that had not a speck of velvet left on its antlers – a taxidermist has given a preliminary score in the low 130s.
The Marchants were familiar with both deer – one more than the other.
Junior Marchant was hunting over a bean field on private land when he saw his big buck on Aug. 15, opening day. He admitted he was hunting the field "blind" – without any scouting – but only because, "It's in an area I've hunted a lot, and when they put beans in that field, the deer really come out in it."
On the first day of the season, the big buck showed up at about 7:20 in the evening, but he was about 330 yards away. "I could have tried, but I didn't feel comfortable at that distance," Junior Marchant admitted.
"I saw lots of bucks the first day, and he and a smaller buck were the first to come out," he said. "The second day, they were the last to come out."
But when the buck finally walked into the bean field at around 8 p.m., he was only 200 yards away. That, Marchant decided, was plenty close enough to shoot with his .270. His first shot was a little too far back; the buck jumped into the air and trotted 15 or 20 yards farther out in the field. The second shot anchored him.
The buck has an unusually tall, narrow rack. Junior Marchant said it has a 14 ½-inch inside spread, 8-inch brow tines and 12-inch tines on each antler.
"He's just a big, clean 8," said Marchant, who estimates the buck will score somewhere in the 130s.
Nicole Marchant had seen her buck plenty of times – in person and on trail-cam photos.
"He was a 4 ½-year-old buck; I had watched him for a while," Junior Marchant said. "She was wanting to harvest one big enough to mount, so I laid off him (in 2011). He was a pretty 8-pointer last year, maybe 120 inches. I was glad she didn't get him then."
Nicole Marchant was hunting over a food plot of cow peas that her husband and planted, targeting that particular buck.
"I've been hunting him for two years," she said. "I saw him last year on the trail cam, and I spotted him a couple of times, but it was too dark to get a shot. Then he disappeared, and we were worried about him, but he showed back up after the season. This year, we had more (trail-cam) shots of him."
The second day of the season, Aug. 16, Nicole Marchant saw the deer come into the food plot, but it was too late and too dark for a shot. She was back in her stand on Aug. 20.
"He showed up right at 8:15; he walked out into the food plot, and that was that," she said.
The buck never knew what hit him when her .243 bullet took him through the spine from a range of 80 yards.
"I was surprised that he was out of velvet, but my husband said he'd shed by the Monday before the season opened (Aug. 13)," Nicole Marchant said.
Junior Marchant said a friend has put tape measure on his wife's deer, which grew a ninth point between last season and this past August. The buck has one brow tine broken off, but he said it still measures around 132 inches.
"If it hadn't broken the brow tine off, it would have scored 135 or 136," he said.
Broken or not, velvet or clean, it's doubtful that any marriage in South Carolina will be holier than the Marchant's deer matrimony this season.