David Lowe is an avid bowhunter, and rarely uses a rifle on deer hunts, but circumstances beyond his control had him in the woods with his wife’s Weatherby 7 mm rifle on two consecutive days last week. Both days ended with Lowe killing two big bucks on their Florence County tract.
The first day, Lowe intended to hunt from his bow stand with intentions of sticking a trophy 10-point he’d been observing on his trail cameras for several years. As he drove his Bad Boy Buggy into the woods, his cell phone buzzed, and it was bad news. His AT&T wireless-enabled Covert Code Black trail cam had just sent him photos showing deer were already in his corn pile. Not wanting to run the deer off, he opted to sit in his wife’s rifle stand instead.
“My wife had planned to go, but decided not to at the last minute, so I had her rifle on the buggy. I didn’t want to spook the deer away from my bow stand, so I just decided to take her rifle to her tripod stand overlooking a bean field,” said Lowe.
Once Lowe got settled into the stand, he knew it was going to be a quick hunt. “I had been sitting less than two minutes and I saw an 8-point we’d been wanting to kill for a while. It was walking directly toward the stand,” he said.
This buck had an 8-point mainframe, but its rack actually totaled 14-points. “I mean, just an ugly rack. We’ve been watching it for a few years and meaning to kill it for a while. The rack has always been just so strange looking and ugly, and we’ve been wanting to cull the buck for some time,” said Lowe, who dropped the buck in its tracks at 180-yards.
“It must have already been in the field when I started climbing the stand, and I just didn’t see it. The rack was much bigger once I saw it in person than we thought from looking at the trail cameras,” said Lowe, who said that even though he knows it’s too early in the season for bucks to be chasing does, that’s exactly what this one was doing. “Other does where bouncing around, and he’d chase them off, but he was honed in on one doe in particular, and he was following her toward my stand when I shot him,” he said.
Happy with this kill, but really itching to get in his bowstand, Lowe set out to do just that the next morning. The wind was blowing in his favor, but once again, while driving through the woods, his cell phone buzzed, and this time it showed the 10-point he’s been pursuing was already at his stand. Lowe, who was about 200-yards away from his stand at the time, pulled the buggy over and began looking through his binoculars, spotting the buck.
“If I was in my stand, the wind would have been blowing just right for me, but where I’d stopped, the wind was blowing all wrong. As soon as I saw the deer, I could tell he was sniffing, and I had the tarsal glands from the previous evening’s deer with me. That’s what he was smelling, and he was walking right toward me. He was looking right at me, but the scent had him confused. He didn’t know what I was, but he liked what he was smelling. He kept coming right at me and I knew I had a limited amount of time before he figured out what I was and bolted. This deer has busted me a few times before and I didn’t want that to happen again,” said Lowe.
Putting his bow away again, Lowe grabbed his wife’s rifle, crawled on the ground, and looked through the scope. “I was on my stomach on a road, and the road looks flat there, until you lay down and look at it that way. It is so sloped that I couldn’t even see the buck,” Lowe said. “I tried to prop the rifle up on some stuff but the road was still too sloped for me to see the deer.”
Lowe stood up slowly, a little surprised to see the deer still closing in on him. “I’m a pretty good shot with a rifle, but I don’t shoot free-handed very often, but I knew this was my best chance to get this deer. I pulled the trigger, and you know that sound you sometimes hear when you’ve hit a deer? That thump of it hitting? Well, I didn’t hear that sound, and I didn’t see the deer at all. Didn’t see it run, didn’t see it fall. I figured I missed, and just immediately regretted taking the shot,” said Lowe.
Lowe decided he might as well make his way to his bow stand and sit in hopes that deer would come back around. “I was walking to my stand with my bow, just thinking about that deer and wishing I hadn’t shot at it. I got close to where I thought he’d been standing when I’d shot, and decided to take a look just to see if I could see his footprints or anything. I looked just to the left of where I thought it had been, and there was the deer, lying in the road. I’d shot him right through the front of the neck, just like the deer on the previous night,” Lowe said.
This deer was a 10-point typical, and even though Lowe didn’t kill either buck with his bow, he said he’s ecstatic about the results of the two hunts. “I’m glad I had my wife’s rifle on the buggy for both hunts. I’d much rather shoot a deer with my bow, but when you have a chance like this two days in a row, and the bow just isn’t feasible, you just can’t complain,” he said.
Lowe said the 10-pointer will probably score in the high 130s or low 140s, and he expects the 8-pointer to score in the upper 120s or low 130s.
Editor's note: Since the publication of this article, the two bucks killed have been measured by Lowe's taxidermist, and the green score for the 8-point is 134 5/8, gross. The 10-pointer scored 144. Green scores, also known as "rough scores" are estimates, and the official score of any buck can only be recorded after a waiting period of 60-days. Green scoring gives hunters the closest approximation to their score as possible before the completion of the 60-day period.
For more information on how a buck's rack is scored, visit the SCDNR's rack scoring website.