Horry County, home of the "Grand Strand," is widely known for its spectacular beaches, but the spotlight may be shifting inland, just across the Waccamaw River off Cates Bay Highway.

A ninth-grader at nearby Conway High School, Terry Tindal is making headlines with his first buck, which tipped the scales at a whopping 220 pounds.

At 14, Tindal proved that preseason scouting, surveillance, persistence, and a lot of praying can help bring home a real trophy.

Tindal began hunting by himself in a stand three years ago after thorough training from his father, but he did not take his first deer until last season.

The two big does he brought down during the 2006 season, fueled his drive to make his third deer a buck - and hopefully a buck to remember.

The tract of land Tindal hunts is only 10 acres, but it borders a large swamp system with mature hardwoods and adjacent fields. As far as Tindal knew, no big bucks were killed on the property or any adjacent in 2007.

With permission in hand from the land-owner, Tindal decided to make the most of the 2007 season.

He saved enough money to buy a Moultrie digital trail camera to unravel the story behind a lot of buck sign he'd found scattered across the property. In July, he set his camera up along the swamp edge that was beaten down by deer tracks, and he poured out a bucket of corn.

He knew there were going to be some good bucks feeding on the new crops and staying close to the water, a refuge from disturbance. After a few days, he had several pictures of does and a few really good bucks, proving his investment to be worthwhile.

Several days later, his trail cam snapped a photo of a huge-bodied buck with a well-developed set of velvet-covered antlers. The buck showed up in several other shots, traveling on the same trial, during subsequent weeks.

With that information in hand, the opening of gun season could not have come any quicker for Tindal. He was so excited about the big deer, he rushed home and told his family, showing them the photos. Terry's mother, Patricia, was especially excited, and she began to pray for him to get the opportunity to see the big deer.

Tindal decided to concentrate on the big 9-point buck. Every few days, he dumped a 5-gallon bucket of corn and poured out Stumplicker brand molasses on adjacent branches and logs to keep the deer feeding close to the stand he set up overlooking the well-traveled trail close to the dense swamp.

According to his mother, Terry was completely dedicated to the task of taking the big buck, noting that he was there before and after school almost every day.

"When it comes to deer hunting, Terry is as serious as any man can be," she said.

On opening morning, Sept. 15, Tindal slipped into his stand. Shortly after daylight, he heard something moving towards him, and a 6-point buck came into view, headed his way.

"As he walked down the trail, he stopped and peered back towards the way that he came from," Tindal said. "I just knew that a bigger one was coming - and it would have to be the big buck from the photos."

Itching to shoot his first buck, he knew that this deer was not "the one," and he allowed it to continue the trail and out of sight. Unfortunately, nothing else came by that day.

For the next four days, Tindal just about wore the seat out of the double-ladder stand from which he was hunting, but the big buck never showed up. Still, he continued to hunt the stand daily for a chance at the big buck that he wanted to make his first.

Rain fell most of the afternoon of Sept. 20, but it quit just in time to allow Tindal to slip into his stand.

"It was going to be a good afternoon," he said. "Every time it rains, I see deer."

Tindal settled into his stand just after 5 p.m. Until the sun fell below the tree line, all he saw was squirrels.

"At 7:30, I heard the leaves rustling from just beyond the base of my stand, but I couldn't see without standing and looking over the railing," Tindal said.

The big buck was standing at six yards, practically underneath his stand. Almost immediately, he whipped his Mossberg .270 over the railing, placed the cross hairs of his Bushnell scope on the buck's vitals, and squeezed the trigger.

"The buck dropped in his tracks," Tindal said.

Within minutes, friends Robert and Johnathon Rogers met him at the edge of the woods to help get the buck, which weighed 220 pounds, out of the woods.

Tindal's monster buck had a 17.5-inch inside spread, 5-inch bases, and 8-inch G2's. Tindal has not had the deer officially scored, but rough measurements put it in the 130-class (Boone & Crockett), good enough to make the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' record book, which has a 125-point minimum.

Buckhorn Deer Processing in Yauhannah processed Tindal's buck. Danny Stanley Taxidermy of Conway will mount and preserve his trophy - helping remind him of what a little patience, faith, and hard work will do.