The 2016 deer hunting season was a big success for 15-year-old Florence, S.C. hunter Nathan Collier. He killed a 185-pound 8-point buck in full velvet in August. The buck sported an inside spread of 18 1/2 inches, and was the young hunter’s first kill with a bow. He killed another buck, this one a 6-pointer, with his rifle later in the season, and finished the year off in late December with another bow kill of a trophy 10-point buck that has been green-scored at 136 6/8-inches.

But Collier’s deer hunting began much earlier than his first kill of the year. In fact, the 10-pointer he killed in December is the deer that he decided would be his main target for the 2016 season while checking trail camera photos this past summer after spending time throughout the spring putting out mineral sites with his dad.

So his encounter with the 10-pointer was far from a lucky one. With his dad’s help, Collier had placed a trail camera over a corn pile near a cotton field, and their trail camera took photos of the big buck every single morning through October and into early November. But it always came between 2 and 4 a.m., so even though the deer was consistently coming, Collier never got a shot at it, or even a chance to see it in person.

Then, the buck stopped showing up. Collier and his dad thought about what to do to get back on track with the big deer. They decided it was time to abandon the field and focus on the woods, particularly a trail and rub line they found around the perimeter of the field. They placed a climbing stand on one of the trees near the trail, and left it alone for 10 days. They decided Collier should only hunt that stand if the wind was perfect.

Dec. 19, the wind was right, and Collier took to the stand for the first time. He didn’t see a single deer. On Dec. 22, conditions were once again perfect for hunting that stand, so Collier climbed about 30 feet high before daybreak. Around sunrise, he heard what sounded like a deer standing up from its bedding position.

By 7:05 a.m., Collier was texting his dad that he could see a nice buck about 75 yards away, rubbing a tree. A few minutes later, he confirmed it was the 10-pointer he’d been after all year. And at 7:12 a.m., Collier was releasing a Carbon Express arrow with a 100-grain Rage Hypodermic broadhead from his Mathews Mission bow.

He immediately sent his dad another text. “Dad, I got him. I hit him high,” he said. His dad instructed him to stay in his stand until he came to get him. 

After 45 minutes, the two began looking for the deer, found a heavy blood trail right away, and found the 10-point buck about 60 yards away. The buck weighed over 179 pounds, had a 20 1/8-inch inside spread, and 24-inch main beams. 

With the 2016 season now in the books, it won’t be long before Collier and his dad are once again in the woods without weapons, getting ready for the 2017 season.