Opening day of deer season for a Lexington County hunter wound up more like a grand finale than a first-day hunt. Shelton Yonce, a college student, bagged four trophy bucks in full velvet before he even got a chance to climb into his deer stand on property in Orangeburg County.
And none of it would have been possible if someone hadn’t made off with the seat in the stand he’d chosen to hunt; he killed the bucks in a secondary location.
“I had to re-group quickly because it was already late in the day,” he said, “and deer would be moving soon.”
Yonce’s second stand overlooked an abandoned cow pasture that contained a 2-acre food plot planted in field peas and a few native grasses.
As he walked up to that stand around 7:30 on the evening of Aug. 15, he checked the food plot, and it was empty. But before he climbed into the stand, he had a strange feeling.
“Something told me to turn around and look behind me,” Yonce said. “The first buck was standing there under a big oak tree!”
That’s when the excitement began. To his surprise, a huge, 10-point buck was standing 40 yards away, under a big oak tree, looking in his direction. Almost instinctively, Yonce raised his Remington .270 rifle and dropped the buck in its tracks within seconds. Before he got too energized about that kill, two more trophy bucks stood up from the tall grass and started running toward him.
“They stopped 20 yards away from me, looking in the opposite direction – back from where they came from. The bucks must have thought the shot came from the other direction.”
With little time to think, Yonce picked out the bigger of the two and fired, dropping the second buck instantly. The third buck bolted off at high speed, running along a hedgerow. Yonce figured he would go ahead and wrap up his season with a triple kill as the third buck was fleeing.
He began yelling as at the buck, capturing its attention long enough for him to squeeze off a shot, but the buck disappeared at the edge of the overgrown hedgerow.
Yonce quickly crossed the hedgerow and saw what he thought was the same buck, scurrying across the cow pasture. Again, Yonce began yelling until the buck, a massive 8-pointer, stopped along the back edge of the field, giving Yonce time to squeeze off a shot into the buck’s engine room.
“I told myself that I had just shot three nice bucks and (was) done, but I got confused when I saw the belly of a deer down the hedgerow where I had shot at the third buck the first time. And it was then where I realized, the last buck on the other end of the field was a fourth buck,” he said.
He had dropped the third buck in its tracks, but the tall grass growing wild in the abandoned cow pasture concealed the buck’s body immediately after the shot.
“I had no intentions on killing four deer at one time. It was a big lesson for me, but it is still one of the greatest days of my life,” said Yonce, whose triple play turned into a quadruple play.
Yonce’s bucks including three big 10-pointers and a big 8-pointer. The bucks weighed between 170 and 185 pounds, with the largest of the four carrying a 17 ½ -inch inside spread.
(Editor's note: In South Carolina's Lowcountry, no daily or season limit exists on the number of bucks that can be harvested.)