On Aug. 12, the opening day of South Carolina’s deer season, Leyton Weaver sat in a raised blind on a private parcel in Bamberg County. Weaver, 10, was accompanied by his 21-year-old brother-in-law, Jamin Stoltzfus. The two were overlooking a grassy power line with a clear-cut nearby—the same spot where their trail cameras had showed a few nice bucks feeding several days earlier.
“It was an evening hunt because it was so hot, well into the 90s, and we knew deer only would be moving later in the day,” Leyton’s father Lawayne tells Outdoor Life.
After starting their sit around 5:30 p.m., Leyton and Stoltzfus had waited in the stand for about an hour without seeing a deer.
“Then five does showed up,” Leyton says. “[But] it’s bucks only, even during the youth season, so we watched them move off and disappear.”
Awhile later, he looked up again and saw what he thought was another doe.
“But Jamin looked at it carefully with binoculars and said it was a good buck,” Leyton continues. “And then he told me to shoot.”
Leyton wasted no time getting his scoped .243 on the buck, which stood 50 yards away with its head behind a bush. He settled the crosshairs behind its shoulder and squeezed.
The buck took off after the shot and ran away from their stand, where It quickly disappeared.
“Four other bucks that we didn’t even know were there took off too, scattering in the direction where my buck ran,” Leyton recalls. “Then they all just vanished.”
Stoltzfus climbed down from the blind and walked to where Leyton’s buck was standing when he’d shot. He looked for sign but found nothing. With Leyton still directing him from the stand, Stoltzfus tried re-tracing where the deer had run but he still couldn’t find any blood.
Leyton’s brothers, Anson and Camden, who’d been hunting in a different stand nearby, came to help in the search. They spread out and looked for more than 90 minutes. But as darkness settled in, Leyton’s hopes of recovering the deer looked grim.
“I thought that I’d missed him, because there was no blood, no sign of anything that the buck had been hit,” Layton recalls. “Then Anson called me over and said I should walk up a trail near him. I did, and after walking a little ways, there was the back end of a deer laying on the ground. Its head was in some brush, so I couldn’t see its antlers until I got close. It was my buck.”
The deer had been hit perfectly behind the shoulder. The bullet passed completely through, but there was hardly any blood to track. And even though the deer traveled less than 50 yards from where it was hit, the dense foliage and fading light made finding it a challenge.
By the time they loaded the buck into their truck and started for home, it was well after 9 p.m. As they drove, Leyton says he couldn’t wait for his dad to see his first buck.
“It was really something, a real family event,” Lawayne says. “It’s a real trophy in full velvet. A 9-pointer on a perfect 8-point frame with just over a 21-inch spread.”