After a three year saga, Michael Camak of Hartsville, S.C. finally encountered a true trophy buck while ducking out of the rain in a roofed box stand late morning on Nov. 8. Wet and raining conditions are rarely praised when climbing into a deer stand. But, Camak would beg to differ this week.
If it wasn’t for the burst of rain that began to fall on Camak’s hunting lease right when he entered the property, he wouldn’t have hunted one of the only stands at his club with a roof. And he wouldn’t have had a chance to see the Sandman, the biggest buck of his life, standing broadside at barely 100 yards away in the drizzling rain.
For three years, Camak has hunted this massive 13-point buck on his hunting property. But, the deer never came out during the day on stand or on any of his trail camera photos.
“My three kids named him the Sandman because he only came out at night,” Camak said. “He has been my nemesis and obsession for three years.”
While Camak had stacks of photos of this deer on his lease, all of the adjoining hunting clubs also had regular photos of this deer. Every time he saw one of his hunting pals from a neighboring club, this deer came up and some of the clubs were over five miles away.
“He was a roamer,” he said.
Camak knew that he was going to have to put the pressure on this deer to get him before the Sandman ended up on somebody else’s tailgate.
“I had hunted him hard the last two weeks with nothing to show for. I told my wife last Saturday that hunting right at dawn and dusk isn’t working and I was going to hunt this week from mid-morning to lunchtime,” he said.
For Camak, the time period between Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 has always been primetime to catch a mature buck moving on their property in Darlington County. He would start his mid-morning hunts on Wednesday the eighth.
As hard as it was to do, Camak headed to the club well after daylight and made it to the gate at 8:30 a.m. It started to rain. And as bad as he wanted to hunt a stand overlooking a fire lane deep within the deer’s core area, getting soaking wet was not exactly what he was prepared for that morning in 50-degree weather.
“It was already cold and I didn’t want to get wet,” he said. “I decided to go to a stand at the Y that overlooked two roads in a wide open stand of pine.”
He had one picture of the deer the week prior from that stand and it would be as good as any to sit and hope for the seemingly impossible to happen.
Twenty minutes after settling in to the stand, Camak was wiping some rain drops off his scope. Then, he looked over his shoulder and saw a deer standing 100 yards away with a head full of pearly-white antlers. He quickly pulled up his rifle to get a better look.
“It was him and my emotions started flowing. It was a nerve shattering moment!” He said.
Camak took a few minutes to calm his nerves. He was hunting with a gun he hadn’t killed a deer with yet too. But, he brought out the big gun loaded with 200 grain bullets that sure would do the trick if he made contact.
“I finally got the .338 Federal steady enough where I could make the shot and I squeezed the trigger,” he said.
And just like that, Camak finally got his buck. With 13 points and several tines approaching 10 inches long, the buck was green scored at 144 5/8 by his taxidermist Denny Stacy.
“It was an emotional moment when I saw him lying there in the pines. Every time I hunted this year, I was hunting after him. It was him or bust,” he said.