What child wouldn’t want to be known as “Grandma’s favorite?” How ‘bout one with a white tail and a huge set of horns? Edith Dooley of Lexington is “Grandma,” and in more than 30 years of deer hunting, the biggest buck of the 250 or so deer she’s killed was taken on Oct. 18 near Rimini. It’s a 177-pound 10-pointer with a 19-inch spread and more than 140 inches of antler.
She knows it’s the biggest because she keeps a meticulous book on all of her hunts back to the early 1980s: where she sat, what she saw, what she killed, weather data and other sightings. One of those entries is an 8-point, 139-inch deer taken in November 1993 that was her favorite until last week.
The latest entry into her book started with an invitation from grandsons Stephen Christly and Tyler Pearson. She hauled her Remington Model 7400, chambered in .30-06, into a box blind 14 feet off the ground before dawn that morning and began scanning the shooting lanes around her. She didn’t have to wait long; the action began shortly before 7:30 a.m.
“I just turned around, and there it was,” she said.
Dooley saw a deer’s tail flick, and she reached for her binoculars. She could see the back half of a large deer that was working a scrape just out of a shooting lane. She waited for the deer to lift its head, and when it finally did, she began counting points on what looked like a very large rack.
Dooley has built a reputation for most of her hunting career by only shooting bucks with at least eight points. When her count got to 10, she knew the buck was a shooter and exchanged her binoculars for the Leupold 3x10 scope that tops her rifle. She settled the crosshairs on the center of the buck’s front shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger.
Most of Dooley’s deer drop right where they’re standing because she has always been patient when it comes to taking the shot, and she places the bullets either at the base of the neck or right through the center of the front shoulder.
“My husband taught me that, along with everything else that I know about deer hunting,” she said.
The buck dropped in its tracks, 100 yards away and right in the scrape it was getting ready to work.
Dooley waited in her stand until the grandsons finished their hunts – her husband taught her that, too. She saw two more does and another small buck come out to feed and cross shooting lanes.
“I didn’t want to shoot another deer, because I have found, as a guest, if you shoot too many deer, they usually don’t invite you back again,” she said.
When Christly and Pearson showed up, they were amazed at the size of the buck, helping Grandma down from the stand and exchanging high fives before breaking out the camera. They had no idea that a buck that large was in the area; it had eluded the trail cams, and no one else was aware that it was even around.
Dooley does most of her hunting on an 87-acre tract near Smoaks that she and her grandsons lease. They have been managing the property for quality bucks, eight points or better, for many years, and Dooley hopes they will be able to anchor a trophy buck, too.
The buck will be officially scored for the South Carolina record book after it finishes drying out and being divided into edible sections at 601 Deer Processing in Fort Motte.
“My grandsons just love my venison cubed steak,” she said.