South Carolina, with one of the longest and earliest-starting deer hunting seasons in the nation, offers hunters the unique extended opportunity of killing a buck in full velvet. It means fighting the heat, and all the bugs that come with it, but for many hunters, killing a buck in velvet is a worth all of that, but most hunters never achieve that goal.
And then, there are hunters like Steve Bilka, who topped that goal by killing two velvet 8-pointers in one sitting, as he did on Aug. 18 in Green Pond.
Bilka’s successful hunt came on a day when he wasn’t expecting to see much of anything, and he was still a little down about killing a nice buck on opening day – with his F-150 – but after sitting in his stand for about 40 minutes, the two bucks appeared.
“I was heading to the same stand on opening day when I hit one with my truck. I think it was an 8-pointer too, and I looked for it for a while, but it disappeared in the marsh. I just hate to see a deer like that go to waste,” he said.
Luckily for Bilka, his luck changed Thursday afternoon, despite some less-than-ideal weather.
“Around 4 o’clock, a storm was coming in, so I wasn’t expecting to see anything, but I went anyway. I got in the stand around 5:30 in the afternoon, and a buck showed up about 6:15. Then, 30 seconds later, a bigger one walked out. They were both 8-pointers in full velvet, but one was a bit bigger than the other one, so I decided to shoot the bigger one,” Bilka said.
Bilka leveled the scope of his Ruger .30-06 on the bigger deer and squeezed the trigger.
“It took one hop, then fell over. The smaller deer ran about 20 yards away, then just stood there. I decided to drop that one too,” he said.
Bilka pulled the trigger for a second time, and the second velvet deer he’s ever killed hit the ground.
The deer were about 65-yards away when Bilka shot them from his tree stand, which is about 15 feet off the ground and mounted to on oak tree on the edge of a marsh.
“Crazy thing is, my dad killed two deer on one hunt just like that years ago. He passed away earlier this year, and I shot these two deer with his rifle,” he said.