Aftger all, Orangeburg County has produced more bucks in the S.C. Record Book than any other county in the Palmetto State.
But Dave Barefoot's big October weekend is almost too good to be true.
Barefoot, a North Carolina native, bagged trophy bucks on back-to-back hunts the third weekend in October. Not only were both bucks trophy-class animals, but they appear to be the same age and carry similar antler traits - leading members of Barefoot's hunt club to believe they are siblings.
The first buck, killed Oct. 18, weighed 215 pounds and carried a 9-point rack with 12-inch back tines and an 18½-inch outside spread. It scored approximately 138 (B&C typical) points. The second buck, killed Oct. 19, weighed 190 pounds and carried a 10-point rack with a 19½-inch outside spread and 13-inch tines. It scored approximately 144 (B&C typical) points.
Four years ago, Barefoot and the other members of Blackwater Hunt Club started a trophy-management program on 5,000 acres they lease from Mead-Westvaco near the community of Rowesville.
Club members plant small food plots, but they are limited to available cleared land under Westvaco's timber-management plan. Fortunately, the fertile soils produce nutrient-rich browse, and the adjacent lands are well endowed with large agricultural rotations of peanuts, corn, and soybeans - fulfilling the nutritional requirements for producing quality deer.
The club restricts bucks harvested to those 3½ years and older.
"The first two years were not much different, but the last two years, big mature bucks have started showing up all over our property," Barefoot said. "I routinely pass up young 115-to 125-class bucks. Good management does pay off."
Barefoot has several stands scattered throughout the property, but he especially likes to be in a tower stand set up along the edge of a mature hardwood area and a pine thicket with two established shooting lanes within full view. He's had a Texas-style feeder set up on one of the two shooting lanes for the past six years, and it feeds twice a day, year-round, except during spring turkey season.
While some hunters believe that deer become wary of feeders, Barefoot believes his year-round program is the key to utilizing feeders effectively.
"Deer are not spooked at all. In fact, they respond to the pre-set feeding cycle and develop a routine around the feeding intervals. My feeder has been here so long, the deer that eat around it were born with the feeder in place and in operation," he said.
"The feeder keeps lots of does within the area for most of the year and is especially important during the rut. My stand is a destination for bucks on our property and on adjacent clubs (because of) the high concentration of does coming to the feeder. The bucks have cover, food, and lots of available mates making it a prime place to be on any day during the deer season."
That's the way it worked out in October. Both of the bucks that Barefoot killed were trailing does that were headed to the feeder.
Barefoot thought he was dealing with just one buck that showed up in trail-camera photos from late summer and just before the season. The two bucks were so similar that Barefoot thought they were one and the same. He didn't realize he was dealing with two animals until the
190-pound 10-pointer stepped into the lane on Sunday
afternoon after he'd killed his twin the day before.