November 10 became a day that Valdosta State student Jeff McKinney would never forget when he killed a 17-point, non-typical Worth County buck. With a gross score of 185 4/8 inches, the buck was the biggest deer that Jeff had ever harvested. Amazingly, Jeff missed the buck that morning, before connecting on his afternoon hunt.
It was the morning of Nov. 10 when Jeff was hunting on the creek bottom of the new lease that he had just gotten into. In fact, it was so new, he had not even set up any stands or blinds yet, so he had to hunt sitting on the ground.
At around 7:30, he saw a doe behind him, and not long after that, a buck came up from the creek bottom behind the doe. This buck immediately piqued Jeff’s interest.
“I didn’t want to look at the horns anymore because I didn’t want to get nervous,” said Jeff.
Jeff rolled over onto his stomach to get a shot at the buck, spooking the doe a bit, which made him nervous that both deer would run off. Jeff only had a 12- to 15-inch gap to make a shot between the two trees the buck was standing behind. After aiming for the vitals, he pulled the trigger and both deer ran. When he went to check for blood at the spot the buck was at, he realized that he completely missed the buck and hit the pine tree.
“That made me feel sick,” Jeff said.
That evening, Jeff went hunting with his dad, Michael, and older brother, Justin, to the same property in hopes of seeing the giant buck again. Once they arrived, Justin went to another spot on the property, while Jeff and his dad went back to the area where he had missed the buck that morning. On their way to the spot, they jumped two deer.
“Dad said that the hunt was probably over with,” said Jeff.
They were both irritated about bumping the two deer but began trying to decide where to set up a ground blind. His dad was looking around trying to find a good spot to hunt when Jeff brought his rifle scope to his eye to check out the area where the deer had run. Once he did, he saw the back end of a deer 100 yards away. He motioned to his dad that he was looking at a deer.
Jeff’s dad looked through his binoculars at the deer, but he couldn’t tell what it was. Jeff got onto his stomach, keeping the deer in his scope, and waited for about 10 minutes before it moved to scratch head and began walking. When that happened, Jeff finally got clear view of the antlers and realized how big it was. He put his crosshairs on the shoulder and fired.
They waited for about five to 10 minutes before moving to track it.
“It seemed like 30 to 45 minutes to me,” said Jeff.
They walked to where the deer was shot and found blood. Jeff found some blood and began looking in the direction it ran. He found the deer about 10 to 15 yards away.
He only saw the body at first because its head was blocked by a pine tree and some brush, but when he finally saw its antlers, he began cheering and yelling for his dad to, “Get down here and see this thing!”
Jeff’s monster buck has 15 scoreable points, with six on the left and nine on the right. His buck has been entered in Week 9 of Truck-Buck.