Labor Day became a special holiday for Aiken this past September. She braved 85-degree temperatures and mosquito-filled Lowcountry woodlands to arrow an 18-inch, 8-point trophy that green-scored 127 points - enough not only to make the South Carolina record books but also to qualify for the Pope & Young Club's all-time record book.
No stranger to archery hunting, Aiken often accompanies her husband, Billy, to the woods, and her luck has him unsure when his turn might come. Sorry, you can't match Lady Luck!
Aiken started hunting about six years ago. "My husband was hunting all the time, and he seemed to be having a pretty good time, so I decided to join him," she said.
Aiken has a rifle, but she's really taken to archery hunting. She took four bucks and doe with a bow during the 2007 season, which she called "a pretty jam-up year."
She was carrying her second compound bow, a Mathews Mustang, this season.
Aiken's stand was a 16-foot ladder deep in a pine forest, an area she described as "quiet and beautiful." Her husband rotates the stands they hunt regularly; Labor Day was her second time this season in the ladder stand.
The previous time she hunted the stand, she had seen two nice bucks right at dusk and noticed that the second buck was hanging back quite a bit.
On Labor Day, she was in her stand at 4:30 p.m., prepared to wait up to four hours for a shot.
"I like to go to the stand early, because I find that sometimes the bucks come before dark," she said.
Imagine her surprise when the ghost buck from her previous hunt stepped out at 6:38 p.m., all alone, and broadside at 20 yards.
At that range, she was doubly happy that she'd taken a scent-free bath and shampoo before putting on freshly-washed, scent-free Tru-Timber camo. She had also sprayed her snake boots, gloves and face mask.
"I sure don't want a deer to spook at my stand," she said.
Even that close, however, the buck never knew she was there. She got the bow to full draw and let fly with a Beman Hunter shaft and 100-grain Steel Force broadhead. The shot was perfect, piercing both lungs. The buck ran about 75 yards before crashing to the ground.
Aiken called her husband, and the two decided to wait until dark to follow up the buck. They found him without much trouble and carried him to Breland's Deer Processing in Walterboro. The deer was weighed and its lower jawbone removed and examined, with the deer estimated to be 3½ years old, based on tooth wear.
So, for Aiken, it's just a matter of checking her calendar for the next holiday. Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving - they all look good.