Sporting traditions run deep. The Cathey family of Anderson is an outstanding example, with three generations of record-setting sportsmen and no end in sight.

Bob Cathey, the patriarch, has carved out a niche in the South Carolina whitetail-deer record book with three hefty bucks in the typical category between 127 and 130 inches. A 1997 buck grossed 153 inches but, because of a huge drop tine, it missed the book’s minimum score by a margin. Nevertheless, it is an awesome animal and the circumstances of the hunt are very interesting.

Cathey’s big buck, which had been previously shot, showed up in a hay field, chasing a doe, the day before Thanksgiving in 1997. Cathey shot and barely creased the deer’s back with his .270. 

The day after Thanksgiving, Cathey was hunting the same field, and the deer appeared again — this time a fatal mistake.

When the massive buck was dressed, his injuries were many. The hip was damaged, the crease on the back was fresh, and buckshot was also found imbedded in the deer. The buck’s will to survive was astounding.  

Daniel Cathey, Bob’s son, continued the tradition with a 2010 addition to the record book, a great buck that scored 156 gross, 138 typical and 149 non-typical. Daniel, a top-notch archer with more than 80 bow kills to his credit, happened to be using the same .270 his father with which his father had taken his big buck.

A friend reported seeing the deer cross a road on day, in a particular location. Scouting revealed that it would be a difficult set up for archery hunting, so Daniel Cathey was there two days later with the .270.

In his stand for a short while, he saw movement: the buck was rising from his bed in a briar patch. An accurate shot dispatched the buck at only 30 yards. 

Daniel’s brother, Rob, who passed away several seasons ago, was also a dedicated hunter. He added to the family tradition with a 136-inch deer that’s in the South Carolina record book. 

“The passing of time begins to ease the raw edge of the loss, even though we never forget the broken bond,” Daniel Cathey said.

Daniel Cathey’s son, Rivers, is following the family’s example. He took a nice 8-point buck in 2011 and followed with a 10- point buck in 2012 that qualified for the Pope and Young Club’s record book as well as the South Carolina record book. Rivers Cathey has taken a number of deer with gun and bow. In addition, he harvested numerous wild turkeys, including a gobbler with archery equipment. 

Rivers Cathey has shown great maturity and patience in deer hunting. On a 2011 hunt, he reached his stand in a small, 10-acre woodlot near a swamp and a pasture. He thought he might be early, but doe activity proved otherwise. Soon, a 7-point buck appeared and worked a scrape. Rivers Cathey tried to lure him closer with a grunt call, but the buck hung up at a ditch and left without coming in bow range. 

Shortly after, a much bigger 8-point buck appeared and worked the same scrape. He responded to Rivers’ grunt call and walked under the stand — partially concealed until he spotted a button buck nearby and moved. This allowed Rivers Cathey to make a perfect 8-yard shot with his Mathews compound bow.

Rivers followed up his 2011 success with his Pope and Young 10-pointer in 2012. Last season, he took another great 8-point buck with his bow, even though he was recovering from a broken foot suffered playing soccer and had to hunt from a ground blind. He didn’t have high expectations, but as his father said, “You can’t keep a good man down.”

Rivers has also been successful in tournament archery and has excelled in his age class, representing one manufacturer on its pro staff. He was Upstate regional champion in the 14-and-under age group, based on the average of scores from five qualifying tournaments.

Bob Cathey instilled the ideals of fair chase in his family members and taught them to respect the game and the environment. That being said, those that have a special love for outdoor sports are the ones to accomplish remarkable records.  

“Dad taught us to hunt with respect for the game,” Daniel Cathey said. “Killing is good, but more often than not, not killing an animal is just as much fun and exciting. I take great pride in seeing my son Rivers respect and enjoy the outdoors the way I do. It is a family tradition for us to hunt hard and respect the game.” 

Bob and Daniel Cathey are well aware of changes in hunting opportunities in South Carolina. When Bob Cathey began deer and turkey hunting, it was necessary to drive to McCormick, the Lowcountry or some other distant area to hunt. Today, the Catheys often hunt within a couple of miles of their homes.