For the June and July issues of GON for 2018, we’re going to be featuring the 42 weekly and wildcard winners from the 2017-18 Truck-Buck contest. In the annual “How The Weeks Were Won” articles, you can learn more about the hunters and the bucks that earned them their spots in the Shoot-Out.
The event is full of drama, and it’s a blast to watch. If you’ve never seen the excitement that comes with winning a brand-new pickup truck, make plans to attend this year’s Shoot-Out.
The preliminary North vs. South heads-up matches are Saturday, July 28. The Truck-Buck finals are Sunday, July 29. The Shoot-Out is at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth during GON’s Outdoor Blast, a hunting and outdoors vendor show.
The shooters who win their heads-up matches on Saturday also earn a bow from Mathews, a Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker rifle or a CVA muzzleloader, while the weekly winners who lose preliminary matches win Hunter Safety System (HSS) harnesses and Tink’s prize packages. All contestants win shirts from Realtree.
Nathan Crowder knew there were huge bucks on the suburban DeKalb County tract he was hunting, but he was after a monster they named “Big Boy.”
“I looked up to see Big Boy’s running buddy, a 10-point, standing only 20 yards out,” said Nathan. “I knew the bigger deer was most likely behind him, so I began slowly preparing myself for a shot.”
He waited until the 10-point moved from under his stand. The other buck was following.
“I drew back, grunted to stop him, and released the arrow. Fairly certain the arrow found its mark, I heard a crash 15 seconds later. I climbed down to find a saturated arrow and my buck laying 25 yards from my initial shot.”
Around 7:30 p.m. on opening day of archery season, Ben Bishop saw a buck he had only seen once, on trail camera. The wide, tall-racked buck was about 70 yards out.
“I knew he was a good deer,” said Ben. “He walked in my direction and turned broadside.”
Ben drew his bow and released. The buck ran off into the brush.
“I got down in about 10 minutes and found my arrow, and then I backed out,” said Ben. “We returned from camp and found him lying in the thick stuff about 60 away.”
How does a 141-inch deer net only 120 7/8? A couple of kicker points and side-to-side deductions may have killed the net Pope & Young score of Jay Maxwell’s suburban Fulton County 10-pointer, but it didn’t keep Jay from making another Shoot-Out.
“Had this deer on cam several times during the past week and decided it was time to slip in,” Jay said about his hunt. “After an early encounter with no camera light, I was able to call him back. Gave me a 30-yard shot. Smoked him, and he fell in sight!”
In 2007, Jay arrowed Georgia’s state-record non-typical bow buck, a Fulton County monster that netted 213 4/8.
Jonathan Siskey first saw this deer as a 2-year-old in 2013 and placed it off-limits until the 2016 season, but he didn’t present a harvest opportunity that year. Early last bow season, the buck began showing some shooting-light feeding activity right at dusk.
“I decided to hunt him Sept. 16 because the weather data was similar to when he showed up in shooting light. At 6:57 p.m., I saw him walk out of a thicket approximately 90 yards away, spend a few minutes on his feet, and go back into the thicket.”
About 45 minutes later the buck came out again and presented a 24-yard shot as he headed toward a field.
Justin Clack had spotted this buck feeding on white oaks, but it was a week before he could hunt again. It was 90 degrees the evening of Sept. 28, but the wind was right.
“The 9-pointer made it within a range at 35 yards,” said Justin. “I drew back and let the arrow fly.”
The deer fell but after 30 minutes got back up right as it was getting dark.
“We trailed the deer until 12:30 a.m.,” said Justin. “We decided to call it quits for the night and returned the following morning. We recovered him about 100 yards from where we found the last bit of blood the night prior.”
For three decades the Garner clan have been very successful bow-only hunters, and the record books are full of Garner bucks from the west Georgia area between LaGrange and Columbus.
Glenn Garner added two more Garner Pope & Young bucks to the records last season. His Week 3 winner was a tall-tined Harris County 11-pointer that netted 152 6/8 that Glenn arrowed on Sept. 25.
About the time a picture of Glenn with that buck was being printed on the November cover of GON magazine, Glenn arrowed another Harris County giant that was even bigger than his Week 3 buck. His second buck netted 161 7/8—the No. 9 typical bow-buck ever killed in Georgia.
Kill an old, mature buck with your bow, and you’ve done something. David Roos, of Atlanta, is just about to turn 19 years old at the end of May, and he’s already killed his.
David described the 5 1/2-year-old 9-pointer as a “chocolate horned beauty.”
“It was a 22-yard shot from 30 feet in the air. Perfect shot with my Mathews Z73 compound bow from a tough angle.”
Justin said he knew the buck wouldn’t score big because of short tine length, but the buck had great mass with 5 1/2-inch bases with 4 1/2 inches between the brow and G2. David thanked Justin Strickland, who makes Buck Muscle feed, for helping track the buck with his dog.
It was the fourth week of bow season before Ben Childers had a good wind and felt good about hunting an area deep in the woods where he knew a good buck using a very thick head of woods.
“At 6:15, I heard my buddies on their land riding 4-wheelers, and about that time I heard some crashing through the canes,” said Ben. “I saw a group of hogs first, but right behind them this deer came ripping through the canes. By the time I could see him, he was less than 10 feet from tree. I was able to put a shot together right as he was busting out at 15 yards, and I punched right through him.
After having pics of a big buck from this summer, it was killing Dale Henson that work was keeping him from the woods. On Oct. 7, it was only the fourth time he had been able to hunt.
“I saw very little activity that morning, so I decided to get down early and retrieve my trail-cam card to see what had been through the week prior,” said Dale. “This deer had appeared on the cam only a few minutes prior to me arriving at my stand and several evenings the week prior. I decided to hunt the stand that afternoon, and at 7:15 the deer came out offering me a perfect 15-yard broadside shot. He ran about 50 yards before crashing in front of me.”
Hunter Green got in his stand around 5 p.m. the day he killed his buck.
“Around 6:15, I spotted antlers coming down into the bottom next to me and knew it was a shooter buck,” said Hunter.
The deer stayed out of range until three smaller bucks arrived, and then the big one started to walk away.
“Finally, when I thought my hunt was over, big boy came right to me and gave me a perfect 25-yard shot,” said Hunter. “I let my arrow fly, and it was text book. He took a couple steps, started wobbling and then fell!”
Mack Brown was hunting from the ground OTG style, set up at a deer crossing along a drainage, when he shot his Week 6 buck with his muzzleloader.
“As the sun was setting and it was getting dark in the woods, I could hear him coming,” said Mack. “Got the old TC up and hammer back without getting caught. He passed though an opening that I knew was clear from where I watched a younger buck pass though earlier. When he got there, I grunted with my voice, and he stopped and quartered toward me. I lined the irons on his chest and squeezed the trigger.
“The flash and smoke blocked my view, but I could hear him crashing through the woods, then he crashed in sight. I watched for movement for 10 minutes before approaching.”
Paul Aimar could have brought his bow for a Tuesday morning hunt Oct. 17, but it was the primitive-weapons week, so he carried his smokepole.
“After downing two cups of coffee, on my way to the stand I had to relieve myself,” he said. “I sure am glad I brought my trusty .50 with me because halfway through the process the brute came charging in. One shot, and a brief cleanup, and the buck was mine.”
The 9-pointer had great tine length, including a G2 that was 11 2/8 inches long. According to GON’s official records, it’s the No. 1 muzzleloader buck ever recorded from Candler County.
The property Marty Hays killed his deer on had not been hunted in 15 years.
“My brother and I decided to hunt the property for the first time opening day of rifle season,” Marty said. “My brother had placed a Browning Trail Cam out on the property. The deer was spotted several times on the trail cam checking a specific scrape.”
During the afternoon hunt on opening day of gun season, the buck came by Marty’s stand, but he was unable to see it clearly.
“The buck was with a doe. I grunted four times, and then I spotted him about 80 yards away. I shot him behind the shoulder, and he fell to the ground.”
Montezuma has some city property, and in a great move the town allowed some limited bowhunting by city employees. Jason Yoder, a volunteer firefighter, scouting a tract with a trail-cam and got pics of a giant buck in velvet, but by Sept. 1 the buck had disappeared—until Jason got a picture on Oct. 25.
“My CovertWireless camera sent me a picture of him and a big 8 fighting,” said Jason.
The next morning, Jason was in the woods.
“I go in there and a doe being chased by four smaller bucks came through. About 20 minutes later here came the skyscraper 10, and he gave me the shot at 41 yards.”
It’s no secret that Morgan County is one of the top big-buck counties in the state. Riley Huff lives in the real Buckhead in Morgan, so he knows his home county has good deer. But he didn’t know about the one he would kill the second week of gun season.
“During an unlikely morning hunt with 60-degree temps, calm winds and a full moon, I harvested the best buck of my life,” Riley said. “After about an hour in the stand, a doe stepped out on the edge of the field, and he shortly followed. With no prior history of this deer, it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”
Earl Janney first saw his Truck-Buck winning deer during an Oct. 24 hunt, but the big buck was hard chasing a doe and would not stop for a decent shot, no matter how much Earl whistled or grunted to stop him.
The Valdosta hunter got his chance again about a week later.
“I began to see an occasional doe browsing in the planted pines,” said Earl. “Over the next 40 to 45 minutes, 5 or 6 additional does appeared and continued to browse until about 6:15 when they scattered like a covey of quail. Twenty minutes later, about 6:30, the 11-pointer stepped out of the thick cover to present me with a good broadside shot. He dropped in his tracks!”
GON loves kids making the Shoot-Out, and we love public-land hunters making it. Kaleb Hyde, now 11, checked both boxes with a Gilmer County 10-point buck at Rich Mountain WMA.
The buck netted 137 7/8, easily breaking the all-time record for Rich Mountain WMA.
Montezuma Bluffs is a small 500-acre tract along the Flint River in Macon County. The area is archery-only, and it has quality-buck regs.
Larry Yoder at first planned on hunting a spot that he had been hunting previously, but decided on another area after talking to a hunter who was heading in to hunt near Larry’s original spot.
“I went to a spot I had found the day before while scouting,” Larry said. “When I got there, I spooked two deer out of there, and didn’t know what to expect. Around 7:51 I heard something behind me, and I looked, and he was around 40 yards behind me. He messes around a little and came on in to 19 yards where I shot him. He ran approximately 100 yards and piled up, after a heart shot.”
Luke Fulcher, now 12, wrote a great hunt story about the 8-pointer he killed on his family’s farm in Jackson County, a buck that netted 131 5/8 inches and put the young hunter in the Shoot-Out. Luke’s story is too long to include here, but you can read it all and see more pictures at www.gon.com/truck-buck-entries/283747.
Here’s a sample: “We made it to the stand by 6 and we got settled in. We were discussing how proud we were of ourselves that for once we made it to the stand before the sun came up when we heard something moving beneath us. We got excited for a moment until we looked down to find that our dog Shadow had followed us to the stand…”
Another young hunter who killed a great buck to make the Shoot-Out, and who wrote a super hunt story, was 14-year-old Jacob Dillard.
“I have been watching this deer for two years,” Jacob wrote. “A month ago, he had been coming to the food source every day five to 10 minutes before or after dark. Then he disappeared for a few weeks. He reappeared, mid-morning, pushing a doe. I went to the stand again around 4 p.m. He came in, went straight across the food source. Mr. Jock, my hunting buddy, actually grunted him back around to us. I was shaking. I had missed a big hog that morning. I felt that my gun was off, so I had worked on sighting it in that afternoon. I was still not confident. Mr. Jock said, ‘Here use mine.’ That made my day, AND it paid off. I got him!”