Siblings kill velvet bucks minutes apart on youth day

A perfect hunt for Dakota Jernigan

South Carolina’s 2019 youth deer hunting day was Saturday, and siblings Dakota and Christopher Jernigan of Florence County made the most of it. Dakota dropped an 8-point buck in velvet, and Christopher did the same, just minutes later.

Thirteen-year-old Dakota got settled into a ground blind with her dad Chris Jernigan before the sun came up. They were hunting a small Florence County farm and had a good idea about what to expect. Dakota had checked her trail cameras early in the week.

“She had picked out this particular buck that she had on trail cam. It had been passing through from an agricultural field to a bedding area early each morning,” said her dad.

The hunt couldn’t have gone any better, he said.

“Right after daybreak, a doe passed through. A few minutes later, the buck showed up. She shot it with a .270 and it dropped right there. It was a pretty quick hunt. I’d say she had the buck on the ground around 6:30,” he said.

Dakota shot the buck from about 65 yards away, and hit it right behind the shoulder.

Dakota Jernigan shot this buck in Florence County on youth day 2019.

Big brother shoots his buck minutes later

On another part of the property, 15-year-old Christopher pulled the trigger, also on an 8-point buck in velvet. He showed up to help load Dakota’s deer and to summon help in finding his.

“He told me right away that he was sure he’d hit it, but that he thought the shot was a little low,” said his dad.

An avid bowhunter, Christopher opted to hunt with a rifle that morning. He didn’t want to spoil the early season by getting his scent everywhere looking for an up-close shot. It was a good call.

Christopher Jernigan shot this buck minutes after his sister killed hers.

“He had a series of trail cameras on a logging road, and this buck had been showing up regularly passing between a soybean field and a bedding area, early each morning. As luck would have it, the buck showed up on time, but much farther away than expected. Christopher shot him from about 150 yards away,” his dad said.

Like his sister, Christopher shot his buck with a .270 from a ground blind.

“We found blood right away, and we started tracking. We jumped the deer about 40 minutes later,” he said.

Not wanting to push the deer away, and certain it would expire soon, the three decided to head back home and get Dakota’s deer taken care of. Then they went back and got on the trail again and found it quickly.

“These kids do it all themselves, and love all of it”

“We wanted to get back to it so we’d still be able to use the meat, and I’m glad that worked out. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids. They do everything themselves, from picking out their stands, and running the trail cameras. And you won’t find many 13-year-old girls that will clean her own deer, but Dakota does it, and she loves it. They both love all of it,” said their dad.

Dakota decided to saw the antlers off her buck and hang it on the barn rafters with some others they’ve shot over the years. Christopher decided he wanted to mount this one. It’s not his first buck, but it’s the first he’s killed that had such a perfect velvet rack with no tears or holes.

Click here to make sure you’re familiar with the changes to SC’s hunting regulations for 2019-2020.

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1615 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. He can be reached at