Gary Walls is the first to admit that he's a lucky hunter.

He won South Carolina Sportsman's Bag-A-Buck contest winner for October, entering a 15-point buck he took Oct. 17 in Calhoun County.

Winning the contest required a little luck, to some extent, but nowhere near the good fortune it took to kill the trophy buck.

Had he not forgotten the keys to his 4-wheeler, Walls wouldn't have been walking across a peanut field at dawn, and he wouldn't have seen the buck, and he wouldn't have taken the shot, and he wouldn't be looking at a bill from his taxidermist.

"It was 110-percent pure luck - except for the shot," said Walls, 50, who lives in Irmo and works for Norfolk-Southern.

As winner of the monthly contest, Walls receives prizes that include a South Carolina Sportsman T-shirt and decal, a Tink's scent kit, Realtree hats and Monster Buck DVDs, a Plano storage box and a copy of Cooking on the Wildside by Ty Conti, publisher of the magazine.

Like everyone who enters the contest, Wallas remains eligible for the grand prize: a 2-day hunt at The Territories near Ninety Six, a Leupold scope and an archery package from Irby Street Sporting Goods and Anglers Mart in Florence. The grand-prize winner will be drawn at the Palmetto Sportsman's Classic in Columbia in March 2009.

Walls' first step toward winning the contest was deciding to take his wife, Beverly, and daughter, Miranda, to the woods with him on the morning of Oct. 17.

"I had driven my wife's car, and I had my 4-wheeler on the back, but when we got there, I discovered I'd left the keys to my 4-wheeler at home," Walls said, "so we had to walk to the stand. We were walking across a peanut field that had been harvested. We were about the middle of the field, and it had gotten to where you could see pretty well.

"I saw something along the edge of the field and I said, 'Freeze.' I threw my rifle up and said, 'That's a buck.'I took the shot, and I put him down right where he was standing."

At 225 yards, the .270 bullet from Walls' Savage rifle took the buck right through the shoulders; it never moved.

"We started walking over to it, and the closer I got, the bigger he looked," he said. "We knew we had big deer around, but nothing like this one."

The buck carried a 7x8 typical main frame with an inside spread of 17¾ inches, main beams that measured 25¼ and 24 inches, and tines measuring eight and 8½ inches long.

"If I hadn't left the keys to my 4-wheeler at home, I wouldn't have been walking across that peanut field, and I wouldn't have seen him," he admitted.