Since deer season began, Jeff Kirkley of Mullins had hoped to run into a huge buck he had picked up on one of his trail cameras along a Marion County swamp. He spent countless days in a stand 400 yards deep in a flooded wilderness until Dec. 6, when a handful of duck hunters spooked the buck in his direction and he took advantage to make a tough kill shot.
Kirkley’s buck had a huge, 4x4 main-frame rack with a 21-inch outside spread and a couple of kicker points, one of them scorable. The buck’s score has been estimated in the 130s – tremendous for a basic 8-pointer.
Kirkley’s Marion County deer club is made up of massive swamplands typical of the eastern portion of the state where many pristine lowland swamps exist. A recent timber harvest revealed a substantial hill in the middle of one of these flooded regions, and Kirkley erected a stand on the edge of the, a stand that proved to be a perfect place to ambush nice bucks; he killed several bucks from the stand this season, but nothing like this massive 9-pointer.
“I have been hunting for over 30 years and I have killed a lot of deer, but this one is by far my biggest ever,” Kirkley said.
Beginning in September, Kirkley had a few photos of the big buck on a trail camera around his stand, but he kept this information under lock and key. For weeks, he hunted the stand, but it wasn’t until Dec. 6 that his luck changed in a big way thanks to duck hunters who were only 300 yards away.
“I sure am glad those boys decided to go duck hunting that day. As soon as the shots started at the crack of daylight, the buck ran out and started running way from me,” he said.
Kirkley raised his gun and took the best shot he could get.
“I shot him right up the butthole with my 270,” he said.
Kirkley could hear the deer stumbling in the water, just out of sight, so he stayed in his stand for a while. Finally, he climbed down and walked toward the sounds of the commotion.
“As I got close to where he went, I could see him sitting down, and I put a final shot in the deer’s front shoulder,” he said.
Kirkley’s 130’s-class buck is undoubtedly a very impressive deer for Marion County.
“The base of the antlers, where the G2s are, are so big, you cannot put your hands around them,” he said.