Ever since the 25,000-acre Woodbury WMA was first opened to public hunting in 2010, hunters from around the region have licked their chops over the chance of taking a trophy buck, long-bearded turkey or oversized hog. Finally, in the fifth season of managing bucks with four-points-per-side antler restrictions, a trophy buck has been taken, but surprisingly, it came on a tiny, private outparcel smack dab in the middle of the Marion County land.

For the past five years, T.J. Jordan of Marion has invested countless hours on his two-acre tract that’s within the boundaries of Woodbury WMA, looking to score on a big buck, and on Oct. 28, his dream came true in the form of a typical 12-point buck with a 19-inch spread that weighed 190 pounds.

Woodbury WMA, the largest habitat-conservation purchase in South Carolina history, is found at the confluence of the Great Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee rivers in Marion County. A perfect place to grow a massive whitetail deer, Woodbury features 39 miles of river frontage, hardwood bottomlands, pine forests and impenetrable Carolina Bays. The antler restrictions in place only make it better.

“I was shocked. I didn’t even know this buck was down there,” Jordan said, “and there was a lot of hog sign. I was really expecting to shoot a hog that afternoon, especially when it was 82 degrees outside.”

Woodbury’s swine population and frequent visits from black bear were beginning to diminish Jordan’s expectations of seeing a big buck, except for the amount of deer sign he was seeing: multiple fresh scrapes and rubs scattered as far as the eye could see.

On Oct. 28, Jordan slipped into his stand in the early afternoon and he set up a Wildlife Institute Dripper above one of the fresh scrapes within sight of his stand in hopes of drumming up a buck with the sweet smell of estrus.

“I am pretty sure that he just started rutting. There were scrape lines everywhere,” he said.

With darkness approaching, Jordan became restless and pulled out his grunt call, making a few loud grunts. About 10 minutes later, the buck stepped out, and Jordan didn’t waste any time putting a shot from his Browning .308 through the buck’s sweet spot.

“He dropped right there thankfully,” Jordan said. “My heart couldn’t have handled it if he would have run off!”

His buck weighed 190 pounds and had an impressive 19-inch spread. Jordan caped out his buck and took it to Buddy Piner of Piner’s Taxidermy in Gresham. And after careful inspection of the jawbone, Piner determined the buck was 5 ½ years old.