Barnwell County non-typical buck could make top-20 in record books

Guy Kessler of Honey Hill knocked down this 170-class buck Oct. 4, and it could make the South Carolina record books' top 20.

Buck green scored at 174 inches.

If Honey Hill’s Guy Kessler ever doubted how effective a deer call could be, those concerns should have ended on Oct. 4.

Hunting on leased land in Barnwell County, Kessler picked up a doe bleat call, hit it a couple of times and within a few minutes he was admiring a huge non-typical trophy that may rank among the top 20 deer of all-time in South Carolina’s whitetail record book.

Kessler and his cousin, Travis Limbaker, were 14 feet up in a tower stand, looking down a shooting lane, when Limbaker suggested he hit his deer call a couple of times.

The two had seen the outline of three bucks and two does feeding at a corn pile well before daylight, and then heard grunting and horn-rattling all around them while it was still dark.

One nice buck had already slipped in and slipped out before either of them could get a shot, and they had a 10-point buck – a deer they estimated at 2-1/2 years of age and not a shooter on their lease, where they try to take only mature does and bucks at least four years old – in the edge of the shooting lane rubbing a tree.

At around 7:30 a.m., Limbaker suggested the doe bleat call.

“With all the buck action around, what do we have to lose?” Kessler remembers Limbaker asking.

“I hit the bleat one time, and the 10-point had his head in the corner and never even raised his head,” Kessler said. “I waited 30 seconds and hit the bleat one more time. I told Travis, ‘I’m not saying another word – just like turkey calling.’

It didn’t take long for action to pick up.

“Another 30 seconds went by, and at the end of the shooting lane, several doves took off flying,” Kessler said. “You could see for 200 yards, and the last 40 yards, it dropped off into a swamp where the doves took off flying.

“The 10-point wheeled around like a bird dog on point. Within seconds, he tucked his tail and took off like a scared dog.”

The hunters could just see a portion of a buck walking from the far end of the shooting lane.

“All we could see was horns coming up the back 40 of the 200 yards.” Kessler said.

There was little doubt that the buck was a shooter, and Kessler let him top the rise, and then put the crosshairs on his neck and squeezed off a shot from his Remington 700 in .308.

The buck dropped, in Limbaker’s words, “like a sack of potatoes.”

Kessler and Limbaker stayed in the stand for 15 minutes before climbing down to inspect the buck.

“All we could see was part of his rack and part of his head,” Kessler said. “I told Travis to keep watching him in case he moved. I told him I would shoot him again – that he wasn’t going anywhere.”

When they got to the deer, they were amazed. Limbaker had suggested that the buck was at least a 10-pointer, but Kessler was still going strong when he got to double figures.

“I told him to look again, because I counted seven on one side,” Kessler said.

The buck had a narrow rack featuring an inside spread of around 14 inches but more than made up for it with the rest of his headgear.

The buck has a 6×6 main-frame rack with split tines on both beams for a total of 14 points. Not only that, it has six tines that are 8 inches or longer.

Those kinds of numbers add up quickly.

Randy Jordan of Jordan’s Taxidermy Studio in Fort Lawn put a tape measure on the buck’s rack and came up with a net non-typical score of better than 174 inches – good enough to place him in the top 20 all-time among South Carolina non-typicals.

“I tried to score this buck conservatively,” Jordan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a little better. He has incredible tine length, which will help him score well. Once the 60-day drying period is up, he’ll be able to get an official score.”

That kind of a kill is a real accomplishment, the taxidermist said.

“I have two bucks in the South Carolina record book; I hope I have the opportunity to harvest a buck like this one day,” Jordan said. “For South Carolina, that is the deer of a lifetime.”

Did Kessler or Limbaker have any idea a buck like that was in the neighborhood.

Yes and no.

“We have some rubs that are on trees as big as telephone poles,” said Kessler, who admitted the plan for the hunt was to get Limbaker a shot at a doe. “There is a scrape the size of a truck hood, just 50 yards into the woods from my stand.”

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About Brian Carroll 20 Articles
Brian Carroll is an award-winning writer, photographer, and videographer. He is an avid outdoorsman. He owns and operates Marine Marketing Group and The Outdoor Image. Brian is a member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Assn. and a past president of the South Carolina Outdoor Press Assn.

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