Deklan Woodell of Chesterfield, S.C., was in a lock-on tree stand Saturday morning around 8 a.m., listening to squirrels running in the leaves and barking in the trees around him on a hunting buddy’s land.
A couple of minutes later, he was standing over a tremendous, 207-pound buck with a set of heavy, palmated antlers that had showed up first in trail-camera photos three weeks earlier.
Woodell, a 17-year-old senior at Chesterfield High School, put three loads of 00 buckshot from his 12-gauge Stoeger shotgun into the buck at about 40 yards, then finished the buck off with a fourth shot from 20 yards, ending a minute or two of excitement during which he said “Buck fever kicked in” and “My heart dropped into my feet.”
The huge buck has been green-scored at 171 1/4 gross non-typical inches. It’s 6x5 main-frame rack, 14 inches wide inside, carries a 6-inch drop tine and three other sticker points, but its most remarkable feature is its mass. The buck has bases that are 8 1/2 and 6 1/4 inches in circumference, and the palmated beams have four more circumference measurements between 8 and 9 3/4 inches.
“His horns must weigh 50 pounds,” Woodell joked.
But there was no joking around when the buck showed up on Saturday morning. Woodell was sitting in a stand in a patch of woods featuring a dry creek bed and butting up against a cutover. The stand, he said, was one originally hung so landowner Mike Alexander, father of Woodell’s hunting buddy, Trent Alexander. would have a bow stand.
“It was a little cold; I had my gun across my lap and my hands in my pocket where I had handwarmers,” he said. “The squirrels were making a lot of noise, and I heard something to my left. I took my hands out of my pockets and put them back on my gun, and I saw some movement. At first, all I saw was something brown walking between trees; there were a couple of limbs in the way.
“Then I saw him pick his head up and he took a couple of steps forward to where I could see him. That’s when the buck fever kicked in.”
The buck took a turn and started to walk away toward the cutover, which was 60 yards from the stand, and Woodell got his shotgun up.
“Then, he started walking toward a corn pile, and he stopped and ate for about 30 or 45 seconds. He stopped and looked around, and he started to walk away. It looked like he was fixing to leave,” Woodell said.
“There was a dry creek bed, and when he put his two front feet in the creek bed, I pulled the trigger.”
The shot, quartering away, hit home, but a little too far back to be fatal. The deer, Woodell said, started up the opposite bank of the creek, and he fired a second shot. This time, the buck stumbled back down the bank and looked like he was going to escape down the creek bed when Woodell’s third shot, broadside at 40 yards, put him down.
“I got down out of my stand and called my buddy, who was about 200 yards away and had heard me shoot,” Woodell said. “I got to (the buck), and he got up and was on three legs, and I shot him again and finished him.”
Woodell said he was first aware of the buck when he got a trail-camera photo of the top of one of its antlers on Oct. 3. He had other trail-cam photos of him between Oct. 13 and 15, but nothing between then and Saturday morning, when the buck showed up in person.
“In one of the pictures, I could count eight points on one side,” he said. “When I saw his antlers (Saturday), there was no doubt it was him. It was exactly 8:01.”