Six years ago, Seth Mixson decided that the public-hunting opportunities a short drive of his Ridgeland home could be a gold mine for finding mature bucks in the Lowcountry. His decision paid big dividends on Monday, when he killed a 140-inch 8-point buck on the first day of a three-day draw hunt on the Donnelley WMA in Colleton County.

Scouting that Mixson did the first morning of the hunt paid off, pointing him in the right direction, and he waited to go into the woods that afternoon, cooking a pan full of deer sausage while other hunters signed out and went elsewhere – well away from him on the 8,000-acre property.

“I found a heavy scrape and rub line along a few ditches leading to a wet-weather pond where there were some open pines and a few white oaks around,” he says. “He had scraped and rubbed that place to pieces.”

But Mixson’s strategy of going in later in the afternoon almost backfired. He had barely gotten situated in his portable tree stand when the action began – with a doe cruising through the woods.

“I didn’t even have time to get my calls out or anything,” Mixson said.

The doe walked around a little while and then ran into the bushes. Ten minutes later, Mixson saw a big buck running around in the vicinity of where the doe was, disappearing into the same thick brush as the doe had just a short time before.

In a few minutes, however, the buck came back out of the thicket and stopped at 80 yards right in a clearing, giving Mixson a clean shot from his stand, which was 25 feet high in a white oak tree. Mixson squeezed the trigger on his .280 Browning A-Bolt, and the buck bolted towards his stand.

“He ran towards me and stopped for a section, and I thought about shooting him again, but (I knew) he was going to die after I saw the amount of blood gushing out of his side,” he said.

Mixson was right. The buck ran another 50 yards and collapsed.

“I have killed some nice bucks over the years with a few other 8s and a 9-point, but this is by far the biggest buck I have ever taken,” he said. 

Mixson’s buck had an outside spread of 20¾ inches and weighed 185 pounds. Freddy’s Low Country Taxidermy in Walterboro will put a tape on Mixson’s buck for an estimated score while preparing it for a mount.

Experience bowhunting on WMAs near his Jasper County home led Mixson to believe that draw hunts during gun season might be his best chance to kill a trophy buck.

“I’ve been doing a good amount of bowhunting, and I figured out when I started to see some good deer that I should start to put in for some of the draw hunts. I figured there would be a real good opportunity to take a good deer,” said Mixson, who has been chosen for one hunt on the Palachuacola WMA and two on the Donnelley WMA. “Once I got picked, I kept putting my name back in every year, and this was the third time I’ve gotten picked.”