boy velvet buck opening day
Photo Courtesy of Lawayne Weaver

Opening Day Beauty: Check Out This 10-Year-Old's 9-Point Velvet Buck

It was South Carolina's opening day of whitetail deer hunting season, and 10-year-old Leyton Weaver sat patiently waiting in a treestand blind with his brother-in-law. The evening was steamy after a hot summer day as the duo scanned the land on a private parcel in Bamberg County.

Leyton and brother-in-law Jamin Stoltzfus had sat down around 5:30 p.m. and had been monitoring the grassy power line area when the action started. The area was transitional, with a clear cut against the wispy grass, and trail cameras had revealed some mature bucks that had visited several days earlier.

Leyton's father, Lawayne Weaver, told Outdoor Life the pair opted for an evening hunt because it was so hot—well into the 90s—that day, and they believed the deer would be active later in the day. First, five does arrived. South Carolina's regulations allow for bucks only, even during the youth season, so Leyton and Stoltzfus watched them graze and then move along.

Shortly after, another deer came into view. Stoltzfus used binoculars to investigate, determined it was a decent buck and instructed Leyton to take a shot.

The 10-year-old mounted his gun to shoulder, located the buck in his scope, and pulled the trigger. The .243 rifle connected with the shoulder of the buck, which had been about 50 yards away, and he made a dash for the forest cover.

Early exhilaration quickly vanished when Stoltzfus climbed down from the blind to look for signs, such as blood or fur, but found nothing. At that point, they thought that maybe Leyton had missed the shot.

Leyton's big brothers, Anson and Camden, had been hunting nearby. They joined the search efforts and spanned out to cover more ground. Twilight was settling in, and Leyton was losing hope of recovering his buck.

"I thought that I'd missed him, because there was no blood, no sign of anything that the buck had been hit," he said. "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."

And what a buck it was: A gorgeous wide and tall nine-point in full velvet. Weaver had made a great shot after all; it passed completely through behind the shoulder but didn't produce much blood, which made the trailing job difficult. But through a family effort, they found it in the thick brush, and Weaver had earned his grip-and-grin.

"It was really something, a real family event," Lawayne Weaver said. "It's a real trophy in full velvet. A 9-pointer on a perfect 8-point frame with just over a 21-inch spread."

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