At least Jeremy Bessinger's big buck didn't die hungry.

Well, maybe he did.

"I know he got a mouthful; I don't know if he got it in his stomach," said Bessinger, an Erhardt resident who dropped a huge 10-point buck on the evening of Aug. 24 - just a few seconds after the buck dropped his head to sample a corn pile on the edge of a Bamberg County field.

The buck, which scores in the mid-140s in full velvet, was the apple of Bessinger's eye. He had trail-camera photos of the buck from the 2006 and 2007 seasons, so when it stepped out of a stand of pines at 7:15 p.m., there was no question that this was the one. He recognized him immediately and didn't think twice about pulling the trigger.

"I shot him at 7:16, said Bessinger. "I started to watch him for a little while, but I was afraid that the 100-year-old oak tree my stand was in might shaking."

Bessinger, dropped the buck in its tracks at 100 yards with a single shot from his Winchester .270 Short Magnum. Shot through the shoulder and heart, the buck didn't even move.

"I didn't even have to look at him to know that was the one," Bessinger said. "When I picked my rifle up, I didn't even look at his horns again. I knew if I did, I'd have been in trouble."

Bessinger was hunting a piece of property owned by his family. His Loc-On stand was 15 feet up in an oak along the edge of a field of standing corn. The corn pile - "Everybody says you can't kill a big buck on a corn pile; that's not true," Bessinger said - was along one edge of the field, up against a stand of pines. That's where the buck came from, and Bessinger had no warning before the buck stepped into view.

"I've got trail-camera pictures of him from the last two years, but this was the first time I'd ever seen him in daylight," he said. "Most of the pictures I had of him were from 3 or 4 a.m.

"The first year, he was about 16 inches. Last year - he looked about the same size he was when I killed him. It doesn't look like he's really gotten any bigger from then to now."

Bessinger had seen lots of deer in the first nine days of the Lowcountry season. He said he'd seen plenty of does and one smaller 6-point buck. The big buck was the first deer to appear the afternoon Bessinger pulled the trigger.

Bessinger, whose Three Mile Creek Taxidermy handles many of the deer killed at Bang Collins' Paradise Valley Hunt Club, was stunned when he first put a tape measure on the buck's rack. He found tines as tall as 12-7/8 inches, an outside spread of 19-7/8 inches and an inside spread of more than 17 inches. The buck's main beams were between 22 and 23 inches long.

"I got the tape out and started measuring him, and I said, 'No way.' So I measured him again, and I came up with the same thing," Bessinger said.

In full velvet, the 10-point buck scored 148-6/8 gross Boone & Crockett Club, and 144-5/8 net. It's the biggest buck of his hunting career and the biggest buck he took in to mount through the first two weeks of the season.

Oh, yes, it did move to the front of the line.