Wary old whitetails can be tough to kill.
That's why it came as no surprise that the top scoring typical whitetail from South Carolina's 2005-06 season wasn't taken by a hunter at all.
The 6-year-old buck, which scored a whopping 1633/8 Boone & Crockett points, was hit by a car on a dark road within Aiken County's Savannah River Site in October.
South Carolina deer project supervisor Charles Ruth, who announced the state's top whitetails last week after scoring sessions in April and May, said the deer is a new Aiken County typical record and one of the state's best bucks.
The fact that it eluded hunters all its life isn't unique.
"If you look at the top 100 deer, the absolute cream of the crop over the years, you'll find that about 20 percent of them were not killed by hunters."
The SRS buck was no rare occurrence, according to the annual analysis of quality bucks taken across the state.
Aiken County consistently produces more state-record bucks than most counties and ranked No. 2 last season with 10 of the 136 racks that met the minimum requirements for entry into the state's Big Deer Registry.
No. 1 was Orangeburg County, with 12 entries; followed by Calhoun County, with eight.
Racks must score a minimum of 125 points typical or 145 points non-typical to qualify for the South Carolina list. Records are based on the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system, which measures the mass and symmetry of deer antlers in two categories: Typical and non- typical.
Another high-scoring deer added to the list this spring was a massive 1874/8-point McCormick County buck, taken in December 2004 by Manning Lusk.
Ruth said the buck is the new non-typical record for McCormick County - and the No. 4 all-time non-typical for the state.
South Carolina has about 141,000 active deer hunters who harvest about 250,000 deer each season from a population that averages about 750,000, according to recent estimates.
Ruth said the number of hunters represents a slight increase - about 1 percent to 2 percent - over the previous season.
Scoring for many of the 463 racks submitted this year was done at the annual Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic held in Columbia.
Harvesting Boone and Crockett bucks is rare, with only about 5,500 such entries dating to the 1800s, despite a nationwide harvest of about 5 million deer each season.
Currently, 4,641 sets of antlers (4,475 typical and 166 non-typical) are included on the South Carolina antler records list.
Results of DNR's Antler Records Program for 2006 will be available soon on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.sc.us/wild/deer/ing/DeerAntlerRecords06.pdf.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.