Par Pond Buck

Jimmy Morrison’s buck, taken on a dog drive, weighed 175 pounds and was estimated by tooth wear on the lower jaw to be 5-1/2 years old. Its non-typical rack scores around 160 Boone & Crockett Club points.

This monster buck made a splash at the recent Savannah River draw hunt.

Jimmy Morrison of Shelby, N.C., drove a long way to hunt in Aiken on property managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

But he didn’t need an Act of Congress to bag a beautiful buck-of-a-lifetime on Nov. 14 on a dog drive on the Barnwell County property.

The 16-point non-typical buck was jumped next to a waterfowl haven known as “Par Pond,” and when the buck circled past Morrison’s son and back towards him, he was able to draw a bead on his trophy.

On this draw hunt, buckshot was the only ammo allowed, and Morrison unloaded all he had. The big buck was hit by the first shot and knocked down by the second. When he jumped back up and ran, Morrison’s 12-gauge Benelli Super M190 bellowed three more times. The third and fourth shots grazed the antlers and dazed the monster, but shot No. 5 put him down for good.

“We turned loose our dogs and jumped the buck nearly 100 yards from the property line of the Par Pond tract that we were directed to hunt,” Morrison said. “For a dog man, this was a perfect story: to kill a mature buck of this size in front of your own dogs — it’s the reason we come all this way to hunt down here.”

The rack has a rough score of 160 and carries a most unusual 10-inch kicker that sticks straight back out of the left main beam. It has an 18-inch inside spread and a 20-inch outside spread; the buck weighed 175 pounds and was aged to be 5.5 years old.

Everything went right for Morrison to bag the “Par Pond Buck,” but he cautioned that sometimes, perils await the drivers’ dogs. Warm weather always brings the threat of gators taking a dog if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, Morrison told a sad tale of a Walker hound that was run over and killed by a train passing nearby, a tough loss for sure, but one he would try to balance with the privilege of hunting this pristine acreage.

The Savannah River Site has a long tradition of conducting “Deer Control Activities” via dog drives. Hunters are selected randomly by computer drawing and pay a fee for a half-day hunt. Around 4,000 hunters from across the nation apply for only a few hundred positions, which are spread out over 10 hunt dates.

While deer, hogs and even coyotes are culled during these hunts, great care is given to the subject of hunter safety, with standers placed greater than 250 yards apart.

Ed Spears, the huntmaster, conducts a meeting with each group before every hunt, and safety is his most-prominent message. Thanks to the Savannah River Site’s safety-conscious deer-control activities, hunters like Morrison can contribute to herd management on-site, while pursuing that once-in-a-lifetime buck.

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