Bruce: Studs in Velvet

Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts deer all over the South, including near his Georgia home. States covered: AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, FL.

While hunters most of the country are practicing with their bows, checking trail cameras, and anticipating the opening of deer season, it is already underway in South Carolina. The deer opener in the Palmetto State was August 15, in the heat of the summer. While you will definitely have to endure some blistering temperatures, you also have a decent chance of harvesting a trophy velvet-antlered buck.

Rob Freyer of Maryland discovered the SC early opener a few years ago and booked a 3-day hunt with Buck Run Hunting Lodge. The hunting consists mainly of sitting in stands over agricultural fields in the afternoon waiting on a buck to show before dark falls. Rob's first two seasons were unsuccessful, but the third season it all came together.

Despite a full moon and highs in the lower 90s, one hunter shot a nice 8 point buck the first morning and a management buck was taken the second day. Rob opted to hunt over some standing corn for the last afternoon. As the sun set Rob began hearing shots ring out, and at 7:45pm, things started happening.

"Out of nowhere, deer after deer stood up, all bucks, and the trophy buck I wanted was definitely in the group. The deer were nervous as they rose from cover to the wide open and were eager to retreat to standing corn so I had to act fast. As my buck made his way to the corn I steadied the crosshairs on him several times before I could get a shot. He finally stopped five feet from the corn for one last look and I slowly squeezed off the round."

Rob's .25 WSM bullet hit true and he had his first velvet buck, a 120-class ten pointer. Rob's buddy Dave also took a 7-point velvet-antlered South Carolina buck on the same day, August 17.