Friday, Nov 13 was no unlucky day for Barnwell County’s Mark Haslam. He killed the biggest buck of his life on that day, and Haslam already had one buck in South Carolina’s record books. The Friday the 13th buck was considerably bigger. The rack’s net green-score was 151 6/8, and it had a 21” spread. He shot it before ever getting into his stand.
Haslam had dropped off two friends at different stands for an evening hunt with his Bad Boy Buggy, parked the buggy, then began walking down the road between a replanted clear cut and a stand of 20-year loblolly pines.
“It was approximately 4:15 p.m. when I eased down the road on foot with my backpack strapped on, climber over my left shoulder, and Weatherby 7 Mag on my right shoulder. Just as I was approaching the cutover, I glanced over and spotted a buck broadside in the firebreak between the pine stands. I froze and he locked on to me. He cut his head forward and I raised my scope,” said Haslam.
He immediately recognized the buck as one they had been hunting for two years. “The sun was in my line of sight, but I was ninety percent sure it was him. We called him Walker, Texas Ranger,” said Haslam, who began seeing the buck on trail cams only after a local farmer had first spotted and nicknamed the deer.
The buck was 100-yards from Haslam, but looking directly at him. “Within a second or two after I raised my rifle, he turned his head back to me. He was completely locked on to me. With my heart pounding and adrenaline pumping, there was no way I wanted to take a shot free-handed. The crosshairs were shifting all over the midsection, and above and below the body,” he said.
Haslam knew the worst that could happen was for him to spook – or worse – wound the deer, so he decided to take a handful of steps forward to a pine tree which he could use to brace himself. “I was fine if he bolted, but I couldn’t risk a low percentage shot,” he said.
With his climbing stand still hanging over his left shoulder, Haslam leaned into the pine tree, put the crosshairs on the buck, and pulled the trigger. Rays of sunlight blinded him from seeing which direction the buck ran, but he felt good about the shot. He did a quick search, but found no blood, and not much help in determining where the deer ran.
“I didn’t want to risk bumping the buck, and with temperatures dropping to 35-degrees overnight, I decided to resume the search in the AM,” he said.
Haslam found the buck the next morning, within 30-minutes of beginning his search. “The shot clipped the back of both shoulders and went directly through the heart. No blood where he laid, and all the meat was saved,” he said.
Haslam’s previous record-book entry took place in Jasper County in 1997, and scored 140 1/8-inches, so this one beats it by a good stretch, and ensures he’ll never look at Friday the 13th as anything but a lucky day for him.
Click here to read about other big South Carolina bucks.