When it comes to producing big bucks, the agricultural fields and the Flint River bottomlands of Macon and Lee counties are still king, and Worth remains third-best for the 19th year in a row, but the gap is narrowing between the south Georgia stalwarts and some counties to the north. Morgan County is poised just a couple of high-scoring bucks away from overtaking the No. 3 spot. Meanwhile, the Atlanta suburbs continue to produce bow-bucks that rival a midwestern state’s top bucks, and Fulton County’s score is quickly shooting up the charts.
GON compiles and keeps a database of deer scores that allows us to track the big-buck production of every Georgia county on a yearly basis. We tally big-buck production using a formula based on official net scores from bucks taken in the past 10 years. A point value is assigned to each county based on the buck scores, and we also factor in the square miles of each county. Every county gets a score.
Scores can drop because we only look at a 10-year window. Bucks killed 11 years ago fall out of the equation. Obviously, a high-scoring buck or two killed in the past season results in an increased score for a county.
Only 10 counties scored above 100 this year, which is down from 11 last season and down from 14 in the 2008 rankings. Sumter County, which made it into the red category last year, dropped back out this year to a score of 95. Counties that scored above 100 in 2008 that remain just out of the top tier are Dodge, Taylor, Terrell and Wilcox.
Of interest after this year’s number crunching were some “sleeper” counties that entered the big-buck conversation. In addition to tabulating this year’s big-buck scores, we also compare the scores to the previous year to see which counties are moving up and down (see the charts on page 34). Notice that four of the Top-10 counties with improving scores are in a pocket around Athens in northeast Georgia.
John Seginak, of Comer, a GON hunt advisor team member who hunts Madison and Oglethorpe counties, said the factor in play can be summed up with one word — beans.
“The farmers the last two years planted soybeans, and it’s had a tremendous impact on antler growth,” John said.
He expects to see more Fab 40 bucks from the area this season.
On the other end of the equation, counties with declining scores are spread randomly across the state, indicating there aren’t regional or local trends in play. These counties simply had big deer killed 10 years ago that now have dropped from the equation.
If you kill a good buck, make sure you contact GON. Call us at (800) 438-4663, or you can e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org.>.