With his living room overflowing in buck mounts, Bradley Hughes of Elloree, S.C. admits he’s not really a “horn hunter” anymore. Unless he’s got a real trophy in his crosshairs, he’d rather fill his freezer with doe meat. But, on Aug. 19, he laid eyes on a buck that he could make room for — a full velvet, Orangeburg County 10-point.
Hughes’ inclination towards deer meat is a big part of his motivation these days. Rather than taking smaller bucks, he chooses to manage the roughly 2,000 acres that he’s hunted on for the past 10 years by harvesting the abundance of does, giving those future wall mounts an opportunity to gain a few inches. In that effort, he has already passed on a pair of nice 8-points and another 10-point this season.
The land Hughes hunts is primarily a cut-over, but still contains a good stand of hardwoods alongside a flowing creek bottom. Although the timber was cut at the beginning of last year, the brush is now tall enough to conceal the passing bucks. But, Hughes remedied this problem with a shooting lane that contains one of his corn piles and a 25-foot tower stand that he constructed.
“When I climbed in the stand around 6 o'clock that evening, I had 2 does already in the corn pile about 200 yards away from me,” said Hughes. “A little after 7 o'clock, I had an 8-point cross the corn pile. It was pushing 8 o'clock and getting right at dusk when I had 11 bucks walk out. They didn't come to the corn pile, but they came out into the lane where the corn pile was.
They were a little bit further up. The biggest one came out facing me and I let him turn broadside. He was actually quartered away from me a little bit.”
In that moment of stillness, Hughes zeroed in and fired his Browning 7mm Magnum. The 150-grain Remington Core-Lokt bullet found its mark behind the shoulder at 150 yards and he watched his newest trophy sprint for 30 yards before plowing into the ground.
“I’ve got about 20 deer mounted in my living room. Hogs and all kinds of stuff,” said Hughes. “But, I’m going to have him mounted too.”
Hughes’ buck carried a rack featuring an inside spread of 16¼ inches with the longest main beam going 21¼ inches. The longest tines were the G3’s, which measured 8 inches and 7¾ inches. The brow tines rose to 5½ and 6 inches. The buck weighed 189 pounds.