Twelve-year-old Justin Hodges of McCormick County blasted a whopper 19-point buck that is threatening the 176-inch Pickens County buck taken by William C. Wyatt as the all-time top buck scored in the Palmetto State. Hodges’ deer has been green-scored at 178 inches.

Wyatt killed the current record buck in 1994, and since that time, very few other whitetails have come close to measuring up. This one certainly does, but Hodges experienced a number of follies during the weeks – and even seconds – leading up to his memorable shot on Nov. 11, that could have spoiled the hunt and left this buck still roaming. 

Over Hodges’ short hunting career, he has taken several deer and a few bucks, but none close to this monstrosity he folded in one shot last Friday afternoon. He has experienced some bad luck this year though, missing three deer when his brand new scope malfunctioned. 

According to his father, Jason Hodges, it was good that he missed those other deer before this buck arrived on the scene. If this buck would have been the first one he’d shot at, he would have missed. 

“His brand new scope he got for Christmas last year went bad,” Jason Hodges said. “I thought he was just missing them until I noticed the crosshairs were completely sideways after he missed the third deer this year. Then, I started letting him use my Remington 7mm mag and he hasn’t missed one since.”

The two were hunting together from a box stand overlooking a road bed 100 yards away from where they saw a huge buck just before rifle season started. 

“Back in October, we saw him in person when we jumped him while riding through the farm on the Rhino,” Jason Hodges said. 

With heavy sign of recent deer crossing, this was as good as any place to encounter a buck that afternoon, but their shooting opportunity would be limited due to the narrow roadbed. Hodges would have to be ready at a moment’s notice. 

The first hour was slow and uneventful. With only 45 minutes left of daylight several does showed up. And as shooting light began fading, their hopes of seeing a good deer did as well, until Justin Hodges looked up and saw movement along the roadbed at 100 yards from their stand. They both realized it was the buck they were after, and he was only a football field away. 

“Justin already had the gun pointed down the roadbed and when the deer stopped a couple of seconds later, he pulled the trigger, but nothing happened,” Jason Hodges said. 

With everything happening so fast, he hadn’t clicked off the safety yet. But it was perfect because it gave young Hodges the chance to squeeze the trigger slow and steady.    

“I dropped him in his tracks at 100 yards,” said Justin Hodges. “My dad and I were in shock when he fell.”

The two climbed down to go look at Justin’s prize, a fine South Carolina buck to be sure. But, neither Jason nor Justin Hodges grasped just how big the deer actually was until later when they compared it to a buck recently killed by a family member on a Kansas hunting trip.

“We didn’t realize how big he was until we put the 154-inch Kansas buck next to mine. My buck made my cousin’s buck look like a baby,” Justin Hodges said. 

Bobby Parker of Rock House Road Processing (864-227-2032) in Greenwood scored Hodges’ deer shortly after the kill. With 19 total points, 12-inch brow tines, 13-inch G2’s, 13-inch G3’s, and tremendous mass throughout, Justin Hodges’ 178-inch buck will crush the current 152 4/8-inch McCormick County record and may become South Carolina’s new number one typical buck of all time.