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Donnelly WMA Draw Hunt produces a fine buck

Seth Mixson with his 8-pointer from a Donnelly WMA draw hunt. Photo by Dean Harrigal

Entering the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources lottery drawing for deer hunts sets into motion a lot of questions, from ‘will I even get drawn to hunt,’ to ‘what kind of success might I even have?’ When it all works out perfectly, the answers are all a resounding YES. Seth Mixson of Ridgeland harvested his best buck, ever, when he tagged a fine 8-point buck from the Donnelly Wildlife Management Area in Colleton County.

Mixson had already been on the Donnelly WMA draw hunt for deer once before, but he was eager to return for another try in 2013. The three-day hunt period ran from November 11 – 13, and began with hunters attending a safety meeting at lunch on Day One. “There was a DNR staff member who educated the entire draw of hunters about safety, and especially what we could, and could not, harvest on Donnelly,” said Mixson.

A quality deer management system has been put in place on some of the SCDNR WMA’s in hopes of increasing the harvest of bigger bucks like Mixson’s mature 8-point whitetail. Draw hunters may harvest three deer during their hunt, which can be either three does, or two does and one buck. The management restrictions on the buck state that he must have four points on either side of his rack, OR possess a minimum of a 12-inch spread.

When Mixson put his climbing tree stand overlooking a wet weather pond, he hoped to see a buck that would meet these standards, and, instead, he saw one that far surpassed them. “While scouting for a hunting location I saw one of the widest and most-trampled game trails I have ever seen,” said Mixson. “It led into a wet weather pond that was too thick to hunt, so I climbed into a tree that was in between upland pines and that bottom area.”

“My hunt began around 3:15 in the afternoon, and the wind was blowing perfectly into my face,” said Mixson. “It wasn’t long until I saw two deer approach, and it ended up being my buck chasing a doe. They went into the thicket and I lost sight of them until I picked up some movement behind me.” Turning around to shoot in a Summit tree stand is not always easy, but Mixson managed to squeeze off an 80-yard shot with his Browning .280-rifle, at 4 p.m.

“I could see he was hit good since he ran right past me, falling in the woods about 50 yards further,” said Mixson. “In this moment he came about five yards away from my position, and I could see the big rack very clearly, and I began to shake for the first time.” Mixson was hunting on his own, so he climbed down from the tree with great care and went to check on the buck, electing to drag him out during daylight rather than continue to hunt until dark.

The 8-point buck weighed 185 pounds at the SCDNR check station, and sported an impressive 20-inch spread. Mixson relays that the rack received a green score of 144 points, which would be good enough for the S.C. record book for typical bucks. This Colleton County dream draw hunt ends at Freddy’s Lowcountry Taxidermy, where Mixson will be glad to pay for the preservation of his trophy buck that came from a lottery hunt on public land.


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


Jeff Dennis, Contributor (247 Posts)

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