When Kevin Dietzman retired after a long career working for the New York prison system and moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., three years ago, he brought one deer-hunting truism with him: you can’t kill a deer if you’re not in your stand.

Dietzman, 51, has been in his stand an awful lot since he and two buddies obtained a 263-acre hunting Horry County lease in early September — after hunting public land for two seasons. He was in a ladder stand the morning of Oct. 15 when a 200-pound, 11-point trophy stayed in the open just a few seconds too long.

Dietzman’s buck is a main-frame 4x5 with splits off both G-2s that has been scored at 138 inches.

“I wish I had a real saucy story about watching this deer for two years, but we didn’t pick up this lease until the last minute. We didn’t physically get on the place until Sept. 5. We missed bow season,” Dietzman said. “We had some (trial-camera) pictures of some bucks, but nobody had seen this one.”

Dietzman was just off the edge of a big patch of pine timber, overlooking an old, grown-up logging deck filled with tree laps, brush and new growth.

“I like to hunt edges like that when the rut comes in, because it’s been my experience that that’s where the does live,” he said.

A little after 7 a.m., he heard an interesting noise in the distance.

“It sounded like two bucks fighting, off to my right,” he said. “Then, I saw a little tree about 120 yards away really rocking. The brush in there was about chest high, and all I could see was this deer’s back. He was working that tree over.

“There was an opening out there I’d noticed before, and I knew if he got to that opening, I might get a shot.”

In wasn’t long until the racket stopped, and not much longer before the buck showed up in Dietzman’s opening. 

“I pulled up my rifle, and he was there. He was facing away from me, but he took a quarter-turn to the right, and he lifted his head, and all I could see was antlers,” he said.

With a quartering away shot, Dietzman aimed his Kimber 84 rifle, in .338 Federal caliber, and let fly. The buck dropped on the spot, the 185-grain Barnes Triple Shock bullet ranging forward through the chest cavity and coming to rest in the off front shoulder.

“I didn’t know he was that big — I just knew he was a nice buck — until I walked over and found him. Guys always talk about shooting a big buck and getting to him and how there’s been ‘ground shrinkage’ but it wasn’t like that this time.”

Dietzman said he and his two hunting buddies who have the lease are still learning the tract of land.

“It’s sort of been scouting/hunting on the fly,” he said. Every time we hunt it, it’s a learning experience,” he said. 

One thing they’ve learned is that this buck’s offspring is walking the same woods.

“We’ve got a 6-pointer in there, and we can tell he’s got split G-2s on both sides,” Dietzman said. “We’ve talked about it and decided to let him walk.”