Cherokee Run’s biggest buck ever is taken by Lillington, N.C. hunter

Jeremy Howard of Lillington, N.C. killed this trophy buck during a hunt at Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge in Chesterfield County, S.C. on Nov. 8, 2018.

10-point buck green-scored over 149 inches

By his own admission, it only took a few seconds for Jeremy Howard of Lillington, N.C., to go from abject sorrow to total thanksgiving. That’s how long it took Tom Naumann, owner of South Carolina’s Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge to deliver this message:

I found him.

“Him” was a 225-pound, 10-point buck that Howard had shot late the previous afternoon, Nov. 8. Howard, Naumann and a handful of other hunters had been unable to find the buck that evening after Howard knocked him off his feet with a shot from his .270, hardly finding any blood after the buck got back up and ran off.

But Naumann went back the next morning and found the buck, got a good look at him, got a tape measure put on his big set of antlers and declared him the biggest buck killed in the 20 years he’s operated Cherokee Run.

“We’ve shot a lot of good bucks over the 20 years we’ve been here, but this one was otherworldly,” Naumann said. “He’s got just a couple of molars and teeth left in his jaw — I figure he was 6 1/2 or 7 1/2 years old — but his rack looked great.”

Howard’s big buck, with a 5×4 typical rack and one sticker point, scored 149 3/4 inches. Putting his hands on the rack ended a horrible half-day between the time he shot the buck and Naumann found him.

“I was heartbroken,” Howard said. “I knew he was probably the biggest deer I’ve ever killed. When I got out the truck to finally see him, I was speechless.”

The story started with Howard in a tower stand on Naumann’s property in Chesterfield County, S.C. A big buck showed up about 150 yards away, crossed a dirt road and was headed into a pine thicket when Howard bleated to stop him after shouldering his .270 Mossberg rifle, picked an open spot between two pines, and squeezed the trigger with just a few minutes of legal hunting time left.

“I knew I hit him good; he fell, but he got up and took off running,” Howard said. “I called Tom, and me and Tom went out and looked, and we found some real dark blood, kind of chunky, where he fell, but we looked and looked and couldn’t find anymore.”

A half-hour or so later, several other hunters were gathered at the spot, all looking with flashlights, but finding no further sign of the buck.

Naumann felt confident the buck was dead.

“There are two things I always ask: what did the deer do, and how did you feel about the shot,” he said. “I asked Jeremy, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I was all over that thing,’ and the shot knocked him down. I’ve never known an animal to go down hard on the ground with just a flesh wound.”

Naumann said he prayed about finding the buck later that night, and he told Howard he would look the next morning while Howard was back in another stand on the second day of a three-day hunt.

“It had rained, and there was no blood to go on, but there had only been about 10 drops before, all where he hit the ground,” Naumann said. “There’s a creek behind the stand that runs down and around, and the buck had jumped that creek and gone into the woods. I went to the other side of the creek and made three passes, only 10 yards apart, maybe 300 yards long, because it was so thick I didn’t want to miss him.

“Then, I went back to where he was shot, and I started again. I noticed his tracks going to the creek, and I noticed a big track on top of the other bank where he went up in the thicket. So I went straight in to look for big tracks — sometimes crawling on my knees because it was so thick — and then I saw him broken down in there.”

Howard’s shot, which he thought was full broadside, was actually quartering away. The 130-grain .270 bullet went in a little far back and ranged forward, never coming out the other side.

“He probably went about a couple hundred yards,” Naumann said.

Howard’s buck had a 17-inch inside spread and 21-inch main beams. A heavy, heavy buck, its bases were 5 1/2 inches in circumference, and it had three different tines longer than eight inches.

About Dan Kibler 887 Articles
Dan Kibler is the former managing editor of Carolina Sportsman Magazine. If every fish were a redfish and every big-game animal a wild turkey, he wouldn’t ever complain. His writing and photography skills have earned him numerous awards throughout his career.

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