Bobby Maher of Bronson, Fla., was down to his last half-hour on a recent deer-hunting trip to Erhardt, S.C., when he proved that “better late than never” holds true in a deer stand.
Maher hunted with his father and a few friends on leased land in Bamberg County, from Oct. 21 to 23. The first two days were largely lost to windy weather, but with 30 minutes left before a 5-hour drive back to his home, he killed a 10-point, 140-inch trophy.
“It was a crazy feeling when I first saw him,” said Maher, who had several trail-camera photos of the buck, which he had nicknamed “Nunya Jr.” — including one three days before he first took his stand the morning of Oct. 21.
On the morning of Oct. 23, Maher planned to hunt until 10 a.m., then head back to Florida. On a crisp, cold morning, he expected plenty of rutting activity, and he wasn’t disappointed — until he heard a deer blow at him from the woods 50 yards downwind.
But shortly thereafter, two does popped out into his shooting lane, then four more, 110 yards from his stand.
“My heart started racing, because I just knew a rack was going to show up,” he said.
At 9:30, the big buck took two steps out into the shooting lane, but he disappeared a couple of seconds later, before Maher had a chance to shoot, chasing does. He heard the deer crashing through young pines and grabbed a pair of shed horns and began rattling, hoping to turn the buck.
A doe showed up about five minutes later, then the buck stepped out, giving Maher time to line the buck up in the crosshairs of his Leupold scope and squeeze off a shot from his Tikka .270 WSM.
“Everything just went blank,” he said, unable to see the buck either fall or disappear. He waited a few minutes, then climbed down and walked out to where the buck had been standing. He found a big blood trail and smelled the distinctive aroma of a rutting buck.
“I saw the blood drops leading to the right, and when I looked over, I saw him,” Maher said.
The buck weighed 184 pounds and had a tall, symmetrical 10-point rack with one sticker point on the base of the right beam.