After capturing on camera the first white deer in over 17 years of hunting on his 600-acre Clarendon County property, Matt Mays figured his chances of encountering this deer with rifle in hand would be dismal. But, on September 9th just a few days into the S.C. 2016 deer season, the piebald eight point buck showed up in an unlikely place and at the perfect time for this Clarendon County hunter.
Mays works for Santee Cooper Power and has lived in Clarendon County his entire 24 years of life. And ever since he could hold up a gun at 7-years-old, he started pursuing whitetail goodness. But a white deer is nothing that any of his family or surrounding hunting clubs had ever seen on their properties, until this summer.
“We started getting photos of him in July and nobody on our property or surrounding properties have ever seen,” Mays said. “We couldn’t figure out where he came from, but he was here now. It was like clockwork. We would capture him every day both morning and evening for the longest time.”
A couple of weeks before the season arrived on September 1, Mays retrieved all of his game cameras just as he always does.
“Unless the cameras have an infrared flash, we don’t like to use them during the hunting season,” he said.
Mays is a trophy hunter and will not risk disturbing a mature buck on his properties after the season comes in. As the hunting season begins, the woods fill with hunters and mature bucks can get weary from the smallest details.
Mays was excited about the piebald eight pointer and was hoping for a close encounter, but not quite as excited as his wife, Ashley. They hoped the buck would stay in the same vicinity.
“My wife wanted to kill that deer,” Mays said.
A few days into the season, Mays traveled to the 600-acre property and prepared a few deer stands for the upcoming weekend. It included an old stand that he hadn’t hunted in over three years that was nearly ½-mile away from where he was getting daily photos of the piebald deer.
When Friday afternoon arrived, Mays slipped into that old stand and hoped to see one of the monster bucks he was getting on his hunting property’s camera. As the day dwindled away, he saw two bucks coming out of the woods to his two-day-old corn pile and Mays immediately saw a familiar sight.
“It was him. He was unmistakable,” Mays said and realized he was in a predicament and a potentially damaging situation that could send him to the doghouse with his significant other.
Mays watched the deer feed for 10-15 minutes and quietly contacted his wife from the stand to get her take on the situation.
“I texted Ashley and told her the piebald deer was on the corn pile. She responded quickly and asked me if he looked cool,” he said. Mays quickly responded back to her with an affirmative. “Yes!”
Mays asked her a few times afterwards if he should take him or pass him up, but she never responded back after several minutes of waiting. It was getting darker, and Mays knew his opportunity was shrinking.
“I knew this may be the last time any of us ever see this deer again. I have been hunting my entire life and it would be very cool to shoot,” he said to himself right before he squeezed the trigger.
Luckily, Ashley was very excited to see her husband’s kill and rode with him to James Shipman’s Taxidermy studio to get the buck mounted.
“It’s the first piebald buck any of us have ever seen in our area and I was very happy to take him,” he said.