For Jeremy Hardison of Bear Grass, the only bad day of hunting is a day he didn’t go. While others stayed out of their deer stands in the wake of flooding from Hurricane Matthew, Hardison hit the woods on October 26th and was rewarded with a 149 ⅞ inch, Martin County 10 pointer.
Hardison’s hunting ground is actually an island; 6000 acres encircled by a hairpin turn in the Roanoke River and separated from the mainland by a cut through that connects the river. Situated between Williamston and Jamesville, the island is shared by 3 hunting clubs and very susceptible to flooding.
“Nobody hunts out there when the water’s high,” said Hardison. “But, I had to go.”
Although wet during normal conditions, Hardison believed the extra water would give him an advantage.
“Most of it's just a swamp with little banks,” he said. “In a few spots there are ditches that cut up into the island. They usually have a little high ground running beside them and the deer will get back in there in the middle and travel the sides. With the water up, it put them all on the higher ground.”
After beaching his boat on the island’s shore, Hardison made his way to a wooden ladder stand and settled in at about 11:30. For 2 hours, he had little to see, but that changed quickly.
“He came slipping through the woods behind a doe,” said Hardison. “The doe was just kind of trotting along and he was trotting along behind her. He never stopped. I never really got the view I wanted of him, but I knew he was big and it was one I wanted to kill.”
Hardison leveled his Browning .308, scoped the buck, and followed his target. When it cleared the trees at 70 yards, he fired a 125-grain Nosler bullet with a ballistic tip.
“He run into a little thicket there,” said Hardison. “I heard the doe run out through the water. I knew I hit him but I wasn’t sure where.
“When I came through that thicket I saw his horns sticking up out of the water and about two-thirds of his body. He was in about 6 inches of water. I had hit him right in the front of his ham near his stomach. It blew his ham all to pieces. There's an artery right there; I reckon a piece of the bullet got it. He hadn’t run 20 yards and died.”
Hardison’s buck was green scored at Owen’s Taxidermy and Wildlife Art in Columbia. The inside spread measured 18 1/8th inches wide, with the longest tine reaching 10 ½ inches. The longest main beam was 25 ¼ inches.