Kelly McAbee of Gaffney admitted he was burned out. He’d sat one box blind on a piece of property he hunts in Cherokee County six straight days, and he was ready for a break. But when his brother Scott wanted to hunt on Dec. 1, McAbee reluctantly agreed – and was rewarded with a tremendous buck.
Kelly McAbee killed an 11-point monster that afternoon at 3:35 because the buck paused for a second before jumping a barbed-wire fence while on the trail of a hot doe. At 318 yards, McAbee put a 130-grain Hornaday bullet from his .270 rifle through the buck’s boiler room as it stood in front of the fence, which the doe had just jumped.
“If my brother hadn’t wanted to go, I wouldn’t have gone, and I wouldn’t have killed this buck,” he said.
McAbee’s buck is a once-in-a-lifetime trophy. It carries a 5x5 main-frame rack with a single sticker point projecting horizontally from the second tine on its right beam. The buck had a22 ½-inch inside spread, tines as long as tall as 9 ½ inches, and it will measure close to 150 inches when the 60-day drying period is over toward the end of January.
"I didn’t have trail-cam photos of him, but other people did, and one of my friends had seen him on the way into work one morning and told me about him,” said McAbee, 48, who hails from Gaffney. “Where I was hunting, I’d seen rubs in there, huge rubs.”
McAbee was hunting in a box blind covering a long gas-line right-of-way. He’d seen three or four does every day during his six-day pilgrimage, and on that seventh day, a doe broke out of the cover on the right side of the lane and headed across, with the big buck in toe. The doe stopped in front of the fence, then bounded over it, into a hardwood thicket. The buck, right on her tail, stopped long enough for McAbee to put the crosshairs of his Leupold Vari-X III scope on him and squeeze the trigger.
“He came across and stopped at the fence, and I killed him,” McAbee said, matter-of-factly.
But it was no matter-of-fact shot.
“I like shooting long distances, and my brother is an ex-Marine, and we both love shooting, and I’d already ranged every place along the gas-line where the deer usually cross,” McAbee said. “We had our rifles zero’d at 200 yards, and I knew exactly how far away he was.
"He never looked at me, and he was so big, it kind of looked like he had 20 points. “After I pulled the trigger, I could see his rack sticking up out of the broomstraw.”
When he got down, got to the buck and saw exactly what he’d killed, McAbee admitted that he might have shouted just a little bit.
"I thanked the Lord for him about 50 times,” he said.