For years, James Lang of Gray Court, S.C. had hoped to kill a South Carolina record book deer, and when he started getting photos of a big 9-point buck on several of his Laurens County stands, he knew bagging the buck of his dreams was a possibility.
And on the afternoon of Sept. 23, a swarm of mosquitos did enough damage to his back to get Lang to twist around for a scratch. That's when he saw his 9-pointed nemesis standing 10 yards away.
“I had never seen this deer with my eyes, but with my camera lots and lots of times,” Lang said. “He has always slipped by and our paths never crossed until last weekend when I decided to switch up some things.”
Lang is a lifelong hunter with a long list of good kills, but never anything as big as this buck. He knew he had to do something drastic in his hunting strategies to get this buck into range.
“I decided to hunt a little smarter this year. It’s hard to fool those big bucks and every little thing counts,” he said.
He made a major change to his scent control techniques this year to try to become virtually undetectable to the deer.
“It definitely paid off Saturday when the buck showed up downwind of me at 10 yards and never smelled me one time,” he said.
The buck had slipped in like a ghost, and was standing 10 yards away. Lang slowly and quietly nocked his arrow and got ready. The buck was heading away from him.
The pine thicket had only a few narrow shooting lanes, and Lang had one last shooting opportunity across a three-foot wide lane at around 35 yards. When the deer walked into the lane, Lang released his arrow. The deer took off, running out of sight.
Lang knew he made contact as soon as the arrow flew. But he wasn’t sure how good the shot was. He climbed down to look for blood.
Initially, he didn’t find any blood, but then he found plenty of it. Lang tracked the deer through the thicket and then heard it crash into the brush ahead. He decided to back out and look again in the morning.
The next morning, he went on the other side of the briar thicket and found a tiny speck of blood.
“At that point, I knew he had made it past the briar thicket,” he said.
Moments later, Lang panned around and saw his 184-pound, 130-class buck lying on the ground 20 yards away.