What started out as an Oct. 14 doe hunt for Tripp Love of Murrells Inlet wound up being the trophy hunt of a lifetime, with him taking a 24-point non-typical buck with a third main beam that has more than 170 inches of antler should score well up in the South Carolina whitetail record book.
Love was hunting on McNamee Plantation, a 1,300-acre property in Williamsburg County that his cousin, Chase Love manages for trophy whitetails as caretaker. He took the buck late in the afternoon after seeing 10 other bucks — and no does.
“This buck is the product of mineral sites, year-round food plots, a good management plan, time and the patience to sit and watch as smaller bucks walk by,” Tripp Love said.
The buck has nine points on its right beam. The left side of its head is much more interesting, with two antlers coming from the same base, one just to the side of the brow tine and the other from the lower outside of the base. The two beams on the left side have a total of 15 points.
Taxidermist Chase Courtney of Carolina Creations Taxidermy in Florence measured the buck when he got it in his shop.
“I pulled a tape on this buck and measured over 175 inches of antler, but because of his non-typical frame, he can be measured a couple of different ways,” Courtney said. “We won’t have an official score until the (60-day) drying period has passed and the deer is scored by a registered (SC) DNR agent.
“I noted two broken tines while measuring the deer, which very likely would have added an additional 10 inches to his score. This could have made him a contender for one of the top 10 bucks off all time in South Carolina.”
Love was hunting in an elevated box stand that overlooks a food plot about 3,000 yards long and 125 yards wide. He was sitting approximately 700 yards from his cousin, texting back and forth about their prospects.
“Most of the stands have sawtooth oaks planted around the food plots, as well as corn feeders, so food is available all the time,” Tripp Love said. “Later in the season, I prefer to hunt in places that have more vegetation, but this time of year, these food plots with the oaks surrounding them are great places to connect with deer that are feeding.”
Tripp Love had a light wind in his face when he watched five non-shooter bucks feeding in the food plot. Then, an 8-pointer crossed the field and moved toward a corn feeder, followed by a 6-pointer.
“Both of these deer were acting nervous, and they were curiously looking back into the woods line,” said Tripp Love, who figured his hunt was done when a deer behind him blew, but the two bucks never moved — just kept looking in the direction from which the unseen deer blew.
Moments later, Love picked up some movement off to the side and watched as the big non-typical buck moved out in the field, 40 yards away and perfectly broadside. At McNamee, Chase Love has a list of mature bucks that have been seen or captured on trail cameras that hunters have a green light to take, and this buck was on the list — because it had been seen on an adjacent property and trail-cam photos had been shared with Chase Love. Tripp Love shouldered his Tikka T3 rifle, chambered for .308 and topped with a Leupold Vari-X II scope in 4.5x14, and drilled the buck, which went about 20 yards before collapsing.
“I have seen 120- to 130-class bucks on this property, but if Chase hasn’t given me the green light on one of them, I simply let them walk,” Tripp Love said. “You can’t expect to grow really big deer if you are not willing to let 3 1/2-year-old deer grow up to their full potential.”
Click here to read about other big South Carolina bucks.