"This was definitely the hunt of my life," Groves said, his heart pounding with delight when he and his brother, Timothy, got to the big non-typical buck he'd shot and started counting points.
The two brothers had never seen anything like the buck on the family-owned land where they were hunting. They quickly came to the conclusion that passing on young bucks for the past five years had paid off - 25 times over.The hunt-of-his-life didn't take a long time, but Groves had been looking at the buck for three weeks. He had bought four Moultrie trail cameras when he stumbled onto a sale at Bass Pro Shops, and the cameras had captured the big buck feeding on a dozen occasions at different times of the day - and night. Groves had a cornpile out, and he had Uncle Mike's Big Buck Corn piled high on the cornpile. He got trail-cam photos of various bucks and does, but there was no question which one drew his interest.
Groves hunts from a ground blind in the woods because, he said, "Deer feel safer in the woods than in the fields, and I see more deer in the woods. If I don't have a ground blind, I will just sit on the ground where I think it's a good spot."
Groves set up a ground blind overlooking his corn pile, and he carried his 12-gauge Stoeger shotgun, filled with 3-inch loads of 00 Remington buckshot.
"I was hoping I'd get lucky and the buck would be feeding or chasing does while I was hunting," he said.
Close to 7 p.m. on Oct. 3, Groves was in his ground blind when four does arrived and started to feed on the right side of his cornpile, 25 yards away.
Then, Groves heard some rummaging in the woods to his left, and he saw the buck with the busy rack was on its way to join the gals at the buffet.
"My heart started to pound, and my palms got sweaty; the closer he got the more nervous I got," he said.
It took the buck about five minutes to arrive at the cornpile, and when he lowered his head to eat, Groves raised his gun, took aim and fired, causing the buck to jump into the air and run off.
"I was hoping that I got him, and I sure didn't want him to get away," Groves said.
He thought better about rushing after the buck, but called Timothy for support, and the two decided to wait 30 minutes before searching for the buck.
They found blood immediately and followed the trail a short distance to the buck. After that, they started counting points. The buck had a 5x5 main frame, but sticker points were jutting out just about everywhere on the rack.
Clearly, it was a once-in-a-lifetime buck.
At Risher's Deer Processing in Walterboro, the big buck tipped the scales at 200 pounds., but who was paying attention to the size of its body?
The buck has a 19-inch inside spread and tines that measure between 10 and 12 inches on each beam. It has two stickers on the base of the brow tine on its right antler and two sticker points on the first tine on the same antler. Two sticker points jut from the brow tine on the left antler, and the first tine on the left antler has two more sticker points.
Freeman's Safari Taxidermy in Ladson will do the taxidermy work on the buck. Groves plans to hang it in his home, but there, his choices will be somewhat limited.
"My wife doesn't hunt, and she supports hunting, but there is one rule - no deer heads in the living room," Groves said.
Of course, he has 25 new reasons to ask his wife about making an exception to the "living room rule."