Nine-year old hunter Braxten Wilson had the hunt of his life last week, and it all started with him not having the gun he normally uses. Instead, he used a Belgian-made Browning 12-gauge that made the hunt even more special to him and his family. He killed a big 8-point buck that locals are calling the biggest deer ever killed in the Stewart's Neck community of Georgetown County. 

The shotgun has significance for his family because it originally belonged to Wilson’s recently deceased granddad, who enjoyed helping Braxten’s dad show the young sportsman all about the outdoors. “It’s special to us because that’s what our family does, and he loved spending time outdoors with his PawPaw,” said Phil Wilson, Braxten’s dad. It was Braxten’s first time shooting this gun.

This is also the first buck Wilson has killed, and it wasn’t an easy one. “This was on a dog drive, and the dogs started running this buck on another hunt club near our property. They ran that deer for several miles down to the Santee River, and the buck jumped in and swam across,” said Phil Wilson.

Trying to keep the dogs from swimming across the river, Phil Wilson said they arrived to the riverbank too late, as the dogs had already jumped in to remain in the chase. The dogs swam across and ran into the woods on the other side of the river.

“The crazy thing is, that deer got out the river on the other side, slipped down the bank a little, then got back in the river, and swam all the way back across. The dogs didn’t even know it, but we saw the deer downriver a ways. it looked like just a rack swimming across. You couldn’t miss it,” said Phil Wilson.

As soon as they saw the buck making its way back, Phil Wilson decided on a clearing that would be the buck’s probable destination. “We started running to that clearing as fast as we could, and we got there and just waited. Sure enough, that buck came through there. It was running, and Braxten shot it four times,” said Phil Wilson.

Lance Casselman Taxidermy green-scored the rack at 126, and is preparing a mount of the head. Melissa Wilson, Braxten’s mom, said they are having a plate under the mount with the words “making PawPaw proud” embossed on it.

-Read about SCDNR-sponsored youth deer hunts by clicking here.