Newberry County may not be the county with the most record-book bucks reported, but it has produced 167, which ranks 11th among all of South Carolina’s counties. But at least one more will be added to the list in March’s statewide scoring sessions: the third-biggest ever taken in the county.
Gary Wicker of Newberry was the charmed hunter when he killed a 10-point, 220-pound bruiser the afternoon of Oct. 21 in a bottomland filled with mature oaks. News of the big buck spread all the way to the Columbia office of Charles Ruth, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ deer biologist.
“Mr. Ruth contacted me and personally came to Newberry to green-score him,” said Wicker, “and the final measurements added up to 160 3/8 gross.”
The day he killed the buck wasn’t Wicker’s first encounter with the deer.
“Back in bow season on opening day, he came out right at dark at 60 yards, but there was no way I could get a clean shot,” he said.
In the next few weeks, Wicker started routinely getting trail-camera photos of the buck around his stand. But it wasn’t until Oct. 20 that he saw the buck show up on his stand in the oaks.
“He came out running a doe, and I just got a few glimpses,” he said.
Wicker hunted the next morning and didn’t see anything, but that afternoon, the buck showed up by himself walking along slowly with more than an hour of shooting light left.
“I could hear some commotion, and I thought it was a squirrel. I pulled up my optics, and I could tell it was him rubbing his rack in the tree limbs,” he said.
When Wicker realized it was the massive buck, he didn’t waste any time. He picked out a hole through the bushes and planted the fatal shot right in the buck’s engine room with his 270 Weatherby rifle.
“I had hoped, but really didn’t expect to see that deer show up at 6:15, with an hour-and-a-half of shooting light left. At that point of the season, I figured this deer was nocturnal,” he said.
While the final score will not be determined until after the mandatory drying period, Wicker’s buck, which is being mounted by Charlie Summer of Newberry, is expected to take the No. 3 spot in Newberry County’s portion of the record book.