For Bryan Farley of Mauldin, the first cool Saturday after the full moon in October was the perfect formula to sit in his newly-located stand where his all-time largest buck, a 163-inch brute, showed up a few minutes after 9 o’clock.
While this was the only time Farley had laid eyes on this deer, his first hints of a mature buck being in the area came during the spring turkey season over six months ago.
“I use turkey season to explore areas and I found some huge rubs as big as my calves in there,” Farley said.
Studying aerial photographs, Farley found a pinch point which he felt would be the perfect place to set up a tree stand to catch deer moving between feeding and bedding areas. In the middle of July, Farley placed his stand, then waited for the perfect opportunity to hunt it once deer season started.
“I only go when the conditions are perfect and the opportunity is right. I wanted it to be cold and around the first full moon after the autumnal equinox,” he said.
On Oct. 22, all these conditions were in place.
Farley slipped into his stand early that morning and sat quietly as several does and smaller bucks showed up. He decided to video some of them with his phone.
Around 9 o’clock, Farley texted his wife and told her he was going to stay a little longer in the stand. And as soon as he started to put his phone away, he heard something coming off to his left. Farley looked and saw a doe, but he figured it was one of the same does he had already seen. He began to film her walking under his stand as he had done earlier.
Then, another deer caught his eye from behind the doe. But this one was not just another doe.
“I glanced up and could see the left side of his antlers and knew it was a shooter buck. I started scrambling to get my phone put away and my rifle in my hand,” he said.
Farley had his eyes on the buck and temporarily forgot about the doe that was trotting right towards him. The doe suddenly halted and started stomping at him.
“I was so focused on the buck I didn’t notice that I spooked the doe. But through one small hole in the bushes, I could see the buck’s vitals,” he said.
Farley held his crosshairs steady and pulled the trigger on his father’s Remington 700 .30-06 rifle.
“After I shot, he started running towards, whirled around and stopped. I didn’t realize how big he was until after I pulled the trigger,” he said.
Moments later, the deer collapsed and Farley started shaking uncontrollably. He sat down to calm his nerves before climbing down to inspect his prize.
This isn’t his first big buck, but it is Farley’s highest-scoring buck ever. With a 21-inch inside spread and 25-inch main beams, the 163-inch, 13 pointer is expected to be the second largest Abbeville County buck ever killed.