The morning of Nov. 4 was unseasonably warm and nothing was stirring in the woods behind Daniel Nations' grandparents' home in Pickens County, S.C. Even the squirrels seemed to be sleeping in.
“It was the first time all season long when I had not seen anything. It was one of those mornings when you just feel like nothing is going to happen,” said Nations, 23, an instructor at Blue Chip Baseball in Anderson.
“I had gotten into my stand a little before daylight and hit the grunt call a couple of times, just real small grunts, not aggressive. I waited about half an hour and hit the grunt call again, but there was still nothing moving. It was just a blah morning.”
But it did not stay that way. Finally, around 8:30 a couple of squirrels began cavorting in the hardwoods where Nations' stand was located. Then two does strolled out of a pine thicket to his right.
“They were about 10 or 15 yards in front of me,” he said. “I figured there might be a buck behind them, so I hit the grunt call again, just a little bump.”
Sure enough, an 8-point buck walked out behind the does, but Nations decided not to shoot.
“He was a good deer, an older deer. The left side of his rack was a perfect 4 points, but two points were broken off the right side. He looked beat up, rough.”
The buck followed the does as they walked right beside Nations' stand. But when the does walked on and disappeared up the hill the buck lingered.
“My brother was hunting from a stand about 200 yards down to my right,” Nations said. “He had not killed a deer in the last couple of years, so I tried to get that 8-point to turn around. I hit the grunt call once and he did not move, so I hit it again, longer, trying to sound more aggressive.”
The buck began walking back towards Nations, but the grunt did more than entice the 8-point with the broken antlers. A second buck — a 10-point — came to the sound of the louder grunt call.
“He was walking straight towards me, then he turned broadside and headed towards the pine thicket. I hit the grunt call again and he stopped.”
Nations made a killing shot. The deer ran about 20 yards and fell down in the creek bottom. “I've got a pretty big buck down,” he texted his Dad, who was hunting the family property, too, and his brother. Although the buck weighed just 155 pounds, small for a rack that size, taxidermist Chip Hamilton green-scored the 10-point at 139 inches. Both main beams are 21 inches and the tines are very long. The inside spread is 13 ¾ inches.
“My Dad said it was the biggest buck he had ever seen in our woods. If somebody had told me there was a buck like that walking in our woods, I would not have believed them,” Nations said.
“The morning went from being really slow and me thinking nothing was going my way to me being very lucky and fortunate to take a buck like that,” Nations said.