South Carolina is blessed with one of the longest deer seasons in the country and one of the only states where a buck in full velvet is possible. And for Dillion County native Michael Goodwin, the first 20 minutes of the 2016 deer season brought his biggest buck to date that donned a massive velveteen rack with eight long tines. But his memorable day almost turned sour when an unexpected guest arrived at an inappropriate time.
As owner-operator of Dillion Oil Service, Goodwin is able to slip into the woods before work or haul a dozen bags of corn to his stands after his doors close. And for the past six weeks, the deer on his 130-acre lease 15 minutes from his shop have received all the sweet-tasting corn they could swallow.
“To be honest, they have been eating me out of house and home,” said Goodwin. “But, I was getting regular photos of two really big bucks and one of them I really had my eyes on.”
Every week, Goodwin would check his camera and put out a few bags of corn to make sure his deer were keeping up the routine. Until the weekend before the season, he had regular photos of his two trophy bucks coming into feed on his corn pile.
“I had plenty of photos of him every week until the Saturday before the season started. I had an empty card. I had forgotten to turn the camera back on when I put out corn a few days before. It bothered me tremendously because I couldn’t wait to see what the buck was up to right before the season came in on Monday,” he said.
On Monday morning, Goodwin slipped into his climbing tree stand and got settled at 5:30 a.m. As the sun started to glow in the eastern sky and onto the forest floor, Goodwin began picking out deer walking up to his corn pile. And then, a big buck walked up into view right next to a stump he had ranged at 22.5 yards away from his tree stand.
“My heart started beating like crazy. I just knew it was him,” he said.
It wasn’t quite light enough for him to take a shot, and the buck wasn’t giving him the best of shots either. There were 8-10 other deer around his stand including a few other small bucks and a handful of does. He watched these deer for 15 minutes waiting for the big buck to shift around, and then the unexpected happened that scared him to death.
“All of a sudden, the 10 deer on the corn pile ran off, but this big buck stayed put,” he said.
Goodwin’s heart began to beat hard and he was completely worried the buck was about to follow suit.
“A raccoon walked up. But, it didn’t bother the big deer at all. He went back to eating and the rest of the deer came back a few minutes later,” he said.
It was a close call for sure. A few minutes later, another small buck came in causing the large buck to shift broadside. He knew it was his chance to take a shot before something else showed up to spook them off.
At 6:38, Goodwin drew back his arrow on his Mathews Reezen bow.
“I had the perfect angle and it was time to make the shot,” he said.
Then, the buck ran off with his razor-sharp Swhacker broad head embedded in his vitals.
After a 70-yard flight, the buck piled up on the forest floor.
Goodwin’s 2016 season started off with a bang, with his biggest buck ever, and the only deer he has ever killed with full velvet-covered headgear.