Jay Garner of Murrells Inlet, S.C. is on cloud nine after drilling a 194-grain bullet into a monster 8-pointer he had been pursuing since December of 2016. For weeks, Garner had this deer’s every movement on his stand documented and categorized in a spreadsheet. And when the time was right, Garner pulled the trigger at 6:20 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.
But, Garner didn’t just shoot the deer with any gun he could have picked up at the local gun store. He purchased gun parts from here to California and built his own weapon that was right down his alley for hunting deer from the ground.
“I like to hunt on the ground and I wanted something that wouldn’t send a high powered round through the forest,” Garner said. “I always make sure where I am shooting is safe, but the subsonic round only goes around 1,000 feet per second and would be perfect for hunting on ground level. It’s quiet and very deadly.”
Garner’s tract in Marion County was covered in young pines that made hunting from an elevated tree stand impossible. Therefore, he resorted to pursuing his monster 8-pointer from ground level and specifically from a seat that most hunters use for turkey hunting. For Garner, this was a perfect way to slip up and smoke this buck.
This deer had eluded Garner ever since he first saw the deer on his trail cameras last winter. Last year, he had hoped to shoot the deer as a Christmas present to himself, but the deer never came to the party. It showed back up this July and made sporadic visits to his corn pile throughout the summer and into the early fall.
Garner was so obsessed with this deer, he created a spreadsheet documenting every time the deer showed up on camera.
“I updated the chart and I noted the time he came in, which way the deer came into the frame, and what direction the wind was blowing. I tried to narrow down which block of woods he was coming from and when he would most likely show up,” he said.
He hunted the deer hard throughout bow and gun season and kept updating his spreadsheet every time he got a photo of the deer. But, Garner stopped getting photos of his elusive trophy. The deer disappeared and Garner became worried.
“He vanished. I figured he took off chasing does and found something that he liked,” he said.
Several weeks later, the deer showed back up. This time, the deer started coming in almost every day, including during the daylight hours. Garner was ready to go after him again. But eleven days straight at his job at Sparks Toyota kept him out of the woods. He planned on spending his next two days off in the woods of Marion County after his nemesis.
Shortly after daybreak on Saturday morning, Garner looked up and saw his deer standing on his corn pile 100 yards away from his seat. He clicked off his safety and made the perfect shot that would finally end the tale for the buck of his lifetime.
Preliminary measurements tape the deer out to 140 inches. It is one of the biggest bucks of Garner’s career and he was ecstatic to finally get a chance to take the deer in such a unique manner.
“Everybody at work and at home knew about this deer. It was about all I could talk about over the last few months,” he said. “I finally got him! But I wouldn’t have killed this deer without my wife, Whitney Garner. She pulled for me the entire time and she made sacrifices so I could go chase this deer.”