Julie Cook of Gaston, S.C. has never considered herself a trophy hunter. She’s never been opposed to the idea of it, but she’s just never been in a position to shoot a trophy where she hunts around St. Matthews. But that changed on the morning of Nov. 25 when a big 14-pointer with a split drop tine on its right side and another drop tine on the left stepped into range.

“We’re meat hunters, and we eat everything we shoot. And we had never seen a deer anywhere near this caliber on our property before. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of getting a chance at a buck like this, and it is my biggest ever,” said Cook, who was hunting from a homemade condo stand overlooking the edge of a wood line.

The buck carried a 19-inch spread, and Cook said the hunt started out pretty unpleasantly for her.

“I’m not big on morning hunting in cold weather. Just before the buck showed up, I actually told myself it was my last time hunting in the morning in winter. I was cold and I don’t enjoy being cold,” she said.

Trying not to focus on the chilly weather, Cook looked at her phone for a few minutes, and when she looked up from it, she saw the big buck starting directly at her. It finally looked away, giving her a chance to raise her Savage Model 11 in .243. It was 7:55 a.m. when she pulled the trigger. The buck dropped on the spot.

Next, Cook sent a text to her husband, saying the buck was huge. He left his hunting spot to come help her load the deer, and she waited on him before getting an up close look at the trophy.

“I got to it first, and it was even bigger than I’d thought. I held it up for my husband to see and he was shocked. It’s just not the kind of deer you see around here,” she said.

Cook took the deer to Phillips Plantation Processing and Taxidermy in Neeses, where she will have a shoulder mount of the buck made. Studying the jawbone they pulled from the buck, they aged it at older than 8 years.