“If you want to take a nice buck, you have to go south. You just can’t grow a deer in north Georgia like you can in the southern parts.”
I’m sure you have all heard this one, and I must say, I have been guilty of using this line on more than one occasion. Polk County’s Aaron Wood knows all too well that soybeans, the right management program and room to roam is the formula for growing a nice north Georgia buck, or in this case, two nice north Georgia bucks.
“I first saw the 11-point, later known as Frank, in November of 2007,” said Aaron. “I knew there was a good deer on the property but was amazed at the size of Frank. I couldn’t hold it together and missed him. We always give the deer we are hunting names after we see them, and Frank just sounded right to me.”
The mere sight of Frank left Aaron scrambling to get back to the stand.
“I knew I would get another chance at Frank. It was just a matter of time. With 500 acres of cotton and 300 acres of soybeans, he had no reason to leave,” Aaron said.
Aaron had thoughts of this majestic buck throughout the winter, but Frank never showed.
“He just disappeared,” Aaron said.
A chance at a trophy buck had come and gone, and only the remnants of Frank’s visits remained. Rubs and scrapes had filled the edges of the wood lots. Early December came, and more rubs and scrapes started to appear. Frank was still there! The buck was nocturnal at best, but no doubt, still there.
Season ended with no trips to the taxidermist and no stories of a monster buck harvest that everyone expected. The search was over.
“Why would Frank leave? He has to be here,” Aaron thought on countless occasions.
Spring came, and the soybeans came busting out of the ground. Aaron began to see some bucks out in the field. In Aaron’s dining room sits a spotting scope on a tripod. Every afternoon he sits and watches deer after deer pile into the bean fields as his wife makes dinner. The only problem was there were no signs of Frank.
“I was afraid Frank got ran over by a car or shot on another property,” Aaron said. “A neighboring landowner had bought trail cameras and placed them around the deer crossings to try and get a look at him but never let on to me that he had seen the deer.”
Frank was around and made his appearance in late spring.
“I was looking out of the dining- room window, and out stepped a few deer at the back edge of the bean field,” said Aaron. “Then out stepped Frank in full view. It didn’t stop there. Another buck of Frank’s caliber, a huge 9-point, was directly behind him.”
Eight bucks followed Frank out into the beans. The 9-point, immediately named G-2 for his lengthy tines, was a trophy as well on his account. Frank was back, indeed, and this time, he brought more with him. Aaron, in one afternoon, was able to view the shooters and young bucks all at once. The bachelor group of bucks appeared every afternoon throughout the spring and numerous times in the summer months up until August.
The activity slowed dramatically in August, and when September came, Frank and his friends were gone again, as nice bucks usually are at the beginning of bow season. Nevertheless, the search continued.
Aaron is the owner of Double L Deer Processing in Taylorsville, so time isn’t always on his side. Bow sea- son came and went like a blur as it does for most of us. Frank and G-2 had yet to be seen from the stand.
Aaron finally took some well-deserved time off and was going to give it another try on opening weekend of muzzleloader season. Saturday morning produced more time at the cooler taking in game from several other hunters. Aaron had to draw the line on Saturday evening. It was time to hunt.
Aaron got set up in a ground blind around 4:30 in hopes of Frank and G-2 returning to the bean fields to feed. The afternoon started slow, but the action picked up when three does busted out of the woodlot and into the cotton fields that joined the bean field.
To give an idea of the setup, there was cotton on the left, beans on the right, and a nice woodlot and fence row in the middle. Aaron had a front-row seat to all the afternoon action. Another commotion from the woodlot produced a young 8-point on point moving to the three does. Deer began to flood the edge of the cotton and beans.
“At one point, there were 22 deer in front of the blind, but Frank or G-2 were nowhere to be seen,” Aaron said. “The sun was setting when I saw a dark, large-bodied deer step into the edge of the woodlot 60 yards away. He stood watching the young 8-point chase the three does.”
With deer all around, Aaron raised his binoculars to take a look.
“I knew it was Frank the second I saw him,” Aaron said.
Aaron lowered his binoculars and raised his .50-caliber muzzleloader.
“I didn’t waste any time. Once I saw it was Frank, I took the first avail- able shot,” he said.
The shot rang out into the peaceful calm of the fall afternoon as an announcement to all that heard. Frank was down. There was little need to reload. Frank lay motionless out in the edge of the bean field. The massive buck had expired.
Immediately, Aaron got on his cell phone to call his buddy to break the news.
“I got Frank,” he told him. “He stepped out into the beans at 60 yards, and I took the first shot he gave.”
Aaron talked on for a minute, enjoying the moment with his hunting companion when all of a sudden he spotted another deer coming through the woodlot just 40 yards from where Frank had.
“There is another deer. It’s another buck. It’s G-2! He’s coming straight at me,” Aaron told his buddy.
“Can you get another shot,” his buddy asked?
“Yes, he’s coming toward the edge of the woodlot where Frank is,” Aaron said!
“Well… BYE,” his buddy exclaimed!
Aaron was in quite a pickle by this point. G-2 was at 90 yards and closing. Aaron had decided earlier that a second shot wasn’t necessary, so there he sat with his muzzleloader in hand trying vigilantly to get it reloaded.
“G-2 was closing fast and got to the point where Frank lay, and he got really nervous,” Aaron said.
The buck stopped and lifted his nose for one last attempt at determining what caused the earlier commotion.
“He was about to run. I knew it, and he knew it,” said Aaron. “I slammed my ramrod into my barrel and finally got the bullet seated. G-2 had his head high in the air, and when he looked away, I raised my gun for the shot.”
With Frank and G-2 in a single scope’s view, another shot rang out, but this time, the buck jumped and bolted back toward the woodlot. All Aaron could do was sit and watch. Another shot was out of the question. The buck turned as it got to the woodlot and headed back out to the other side into the cotton fields and went out of sight.
By this time, Aaron’s buddy was on the way. Aaron sat out in the bean field admiring Frank and thinking of all the effort it took to get him. He sat and waited as his long-time hunting partner came driving up the old farm road on the edge of the fields.
“I got Frank right here,” Aaron told him.
“Did you get the shot at G-2?” he asked?
“I did. I hit him good, and he ran out toward the cotton,” Aaron said.
The two of them gave chase to another massive buck out into the edge of the cotton fields. They trailed G-2 from where Aaron had seen him last, and with a glare of a flashlight saw G- 2’s antlers above the planted cotton. G- 2 was also down and had also expired.
Aaron sat and watched all season as fellow hunters came and went from his deer cooler, but this time, he was bringing in a couple of bucks for himself. Not just any deer, but Frank and G-2. Aaron took his pictures of his bucks back into the cooler the following day and placed them on the trophy board. Word spread fast, and the neigh- boring landowner was the first to show.
“I have some trail-cam pictures that could possibly be Frank and G-2,” he said.
Turns out Frank and G-2 had been captured on trail camera earlier that season. Later that night, Frank and G- 2’s pictures were taken out of the group of trail-camera pictures and placed respectfully under the harvest pictures Aaron had taken with his trophies.
As Aaron’s hunting partner was flipping through a number of trail cam- era pictures, he said, “Have you seen this deer yet?”
“The dark-bodied older deer,” Aaron asked?
“That is Methuselah. We’ll get him next year!”