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SCDNR public draw hunt sees man notch first ever deer; a 10-point buck










The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) regularly holds public draw hunts at properties around the Lowcountry such as Donnelly and Bear Island in Colleton County. Over in Hampton County and along the Savannah River is a 25,000-acre swath of public land comprised of the Webb Center, Hamilton Ridge and Palachucola Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Greenville’s Paul Tyler harvested a 10-point buck with a heavy rack on October 25 at Palachucola WMA, demonstrating how SCDNR draw hunt opportunities are continuing to be a big success.

Paul Tyler has been hunting deer off and on for seven years, and it seems he has been saving all of his luck for this chance encounter with a 10-point buck in the Lowcountry. Tyler had never harvested a deer in those seven years, even though he hunted with a bow and with a gun equally. Tyler admits there may have been a few errant shots prior to the Palachucola WMA draw hunt, but that all became ancient history when his 30.06-rifle rang out at 5:30 p.m. on the fateful day when a trophy buck stood broadside to him at about 70-yards away.

The three-day draw hunt allows for morning scouting on the first day, and Tyler found some large buck tracks along Old Orangeburg Road. “To be honest, right away I had a gut feeling about hunting near that spot, even though I guessed that a big buck would move only at night,” said Tyler. He guessed wrong, however. The 150-pound buck with a 16.5-inch antler-spread strolled right into the mixed hardwood and pines that Tyler was monitoring from his climbing stand. Even though it was the peak of the rut, this buck was alone.

“When I scout, I look for scrapes, rubs, and tracks,” said Tyler. “My hunting buddy, Bobby Whitworth and most of the other draw hunters chose to hunt over a food plot that evening.” No other draw hunters harvested a deer on day one. “I had never been to Palachucola before, but I heard from a friend that it was pretty there. After I shot, the buck ran about 20 yards, and when I walked over to him I was ecstatic because I didn’t realize just how big his rack was!” Tyler is having his trophy 10-pointer, which is his first ever deer harvest, mounted by a taxidermist.

With Hurricane Sandy passing by the coast during this draw hunt, which kept the temperatures warm and the winds gusty, not many deer were harvested by the other draw hunters. But that’s hunting. No one wishes for a good deer harvest than the managers at these WMAs, like technician David Tant. “We have just completed some forestry work with a goal of providing 10-percent of our total area as wildlife openings,” said Tant.

This veteran Palachucola draw hunter can bear witness to these fresh clear cuts of pines, all with the intentions of producing quality wildlife habitat. Some portions of the Palachucola property nearer to the Savannah River are to be replanted with hardwoods. This restoration effort seeks to reclaim hardwood acres that had been converted to pine plantations by a prior owner.

“I’m ready to hunt for more deer this year, but I also hope that I get drawn to return to Palachucola next year,” said Tyler. “I was in my tree climber by 2 p.m. and I didn’t see anything much until that buck appeared at 5:30. I was the first one to bring a deer to the check station, and the technician remarked that this was a quality buck.” Hats off to both Paul Tyler and the SCDNR for this terrific first deer harvest on a public draw hunt success story.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com