Snaky Scotland County swamp produces big 10-point buck

Mike Miller arrowed this 10-pointer at a Scotland County swamp, then found it near a snake-infested creek.

Bowhunter avoids water mocassins to retrieve trophy

Scouting, eyeball observations and determined tracking through a snake-infested swamp allowed veteran bowhunter Mark Miller to kill a 10-point buck in Scotland County on Sept. 10.

Miller, who has hunted exclusively with a bow for the past 30 years, was on some private land where he’d put up tree stands for several years.

“I don’t use trail cameras that much,” he said. “I’d watched this buck and others walking some trails before the season. I scouted (the area) using binoculars and watched from about a quarter-mile away.”

In fact, Miller had seen, from long distance, five or six bucks in a bachelor group a few days before he encountered this whitetail.

“He wasn’t the nicest buck in the bunch,” said Miller, who was 20 feet up in a gum tree in a lock-on stand he’d hung before the season opened. “I don’t bait, and that probably wouldn’t have worked anyway, because there’d been so much rain it made a lot of browse for the deer. They were mostly feeding on grass along the trails and at an old CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) field that’s starting to get overgrown. I saw this buck a little farther away the day before, but the wind was perfect for hunting that day.”

Miller was finished with work and in his stand by 3:30, but it was about three hours before the buck appeared.

“I first saw him moving 50 yards away in a swamp,” he said. “He was walking through some tall grass, and I couldn’t actually see him, just the tall grass moving. Then he crossed a small road, and I saw him pretty good. Then he circled to my right.”

When the buck reached 28 yards, Miller lifted his Mathews Z7 and released a carbon arrow tipped with a 100-grain Muzzy broadhead through the only opening in the dog fennel he was likely to get.

“The arrow hit him on the right shoulder, but he was slightly quartering toward me,” he said.

The deer, with a shiny hard 10-point rack devoid of velvet, whirled and ran down the trail it’d used to walk toward Miller.

“I waited 45 minutes before I came down. I couldn’t find my arrow, (but) he left a big blood trail, so I went to the road he’d re-crossed as he ran away,” Miller said. “It was getting dark, and I didn’t want to go in (the swamp) because it’s got too many water moccasins, so I decided to come back the next morning.”

Arriving at sunrise the next day, Miller tracked the buck 200 yards; he crossed and re-crossed a waist-deep stream twice.

“It took me about 30 minutes to find him,” he said. “He was on the side of that creek, so I decided to float him to a power line crossing.”

When Miller reached a take-out spot near a power line, a water moccasin in a creekside puddle where the hunter was about to step gave him a start.

“But he finally drifted away, and I dragged the buck out of the creek and a few yards to the power line,” he said.

The buck’s tall, narrow 10-point rack had one broken tine.

“I don’t score deer, but I’d guess he’s right at 130 inches,” Miller said. “He’s not my best buck by far, probably ranking eighth or ninth of all those I’ve taken with a bow.”

Miller didn’t rank the water moccasin, but the reptile probably was at the top of his list of adrenaline rushes.

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.