Leslie Lawson of Roundo has been hunting for 20 years, since she was 4, but has only recently found success deer hunting. A member of the Briarcreek Dog Club in Bamberg County, she took her first deer, a doe, two years ago. Last year, she put down a 6-pointer, but trophy deer had eluded her until Aug. 15, opening day of the 2014 season, when she killed an 8-point buck that could qualify for the South Carolina Deer Record Book if it wasn’t in full velvet.

“For some reason, I have the worst luck with deer,” said Lawson. “But on opening night, my boyfriend, Keevin Campbell and I were hunting a tripod (stand) at our club that was overlooking an open area between a patch of short pines and a thicket to the right. We had seen a lot of does moving from around 7 to 8:15, but no bucks.”

Lawson texted her father, who was in the next stand over, and he advised her to be patient while the “buck bait” worked its magic. Shortly thereafter, the does started acting nervous, and she spied a wide, velvet rack working through the thicket.

“I tapped Keevin and said, ‘Buck! Buck! Buck!’ but he never saw the deer until after I pulled the trigger,” said Lawson. “As soon as I could see enough of him in the scope to shoot, I shot him.”

One round from Lawson’s Savage Axis .308 took the deer, which ran only 50 yards before collapsing. Lawson and Campbell got down, went to the buck and took inventory of the velvet rack, which featured eight symmetrical points with an inside spread of 17 ½ inches and outside spread of 19 inches. The tall-racked buck weighed slightly more than 180 pounds.

Lawson has delivered the buck to Stanfield Taxidermy in Smoaks to have the head mounted. She feels lucky to have claimed such a nice buck – she said the taxidermist estimates that the deer will easily score in the 120s – so early in the season.

“We’ve not been seeing a lot of bucks yet, even running dogs every weekend,” said Lawson. “It’s a good feeling to already have a good buck to start the year.”