Eric Stone, 20, of Calhoun, killed the buck of a lifetime last Friday, Dec. 16. Not only did the buck have an amazing rack, but to top that off, it was killed on Coosawattee Wildlife Management Area in northwest Georgia. Myself being a public-land hunter, I know first-hand that a public-land buck of this size doesn’t come easy, and to come off WMA in north Georgia is mind blowing.
Coosawattee WMA consists of 5,626 acres in the Murray County. This area has been known to produce big bucks, like the A.H. Griffin buck that netted 192 4/8 non-typical and the Jacob Castleberry buck, a typical that netted 166 5/8, both killed off Coosawattee WMA.
DNR trail-camera surveys have proven that quality bucks are to be found on Coosawattee. Still, killing a mature buck on this caliber on public land is an amazing accomplishment.
“This was a Thursday, Friday and Saturday quota hunt,” said Eric. “I scouted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for the hunt, finding very little sign and where other people had been hunting in the past. I wanted to get far as I could from people. I went back to a spot I had scouted in the past and found a couple of nice rubs. I hung my climber.”
Eric couldn’t hunt Thursday of the Coosawattee WMA hunt, but Friday was a go. Eric met with his brother, Josh Stone, who also got picked for the quota hunt, for breakfast Friday morning before they went hunting.
“My brother went to his spot, and I went to mine,” said Eric. “I got set up before daylight, and I heard bucks chasing does before it was daylight enough to see. Once it broke daylight, it seemed like everything died off. I figured nothing would move during the daylight because of the full moon. I kept hearing two squirrels behind me bouncing around all morning, and I finally got to the point where I wouldn’t pay attention to them. I heard a jump behind me, and I knew that didn’t sound like a squirrel. I turned around, and it was a doe walking.”
Eric watched the doe walk through a gap, and then he saw a really big buck behind the doe. There was only one gap where he could shoot, and the buck got by it before Eric was ready.
“I told myself, there went my chance at that buck,” said Eric. “Two to three minutes later, I saw them coming back. Once again, the buck got by the gap. The third time he came back with five does, and I finally got the shot on him.
“I had a heart attack,” Eric said. “I called my brother to tell him I shot the biggest buck of my life. He didn’t believe me until he got to where I was. I have hunted Coosawattee WMA all my life, and I have even killed my first deer on Coosawatte WMA, but I have never seen a buck like that. Buck of a lifetime.”
Eric, his brother and another friend that was also on the hunt helped drag the giant a mile out of the woods to the truck. Eric took the buck to the check station. Everyone at check station freaked out when they saw the giant buck he had killed. The 14-pointer aged by biologists at 5 1/2 years old or older (ages are tough to pinpoint once bucks get older than 4 1/2). The buck weighed 150 pounds field dressed. The DNR had trail-camera pictures of Eric’s buck the previous season from January. No doubt, the buck grew a good bit since last season’s rack. Eric brought his buck to the taxidermist, and they rough scored him at 178 inches gross. A true buck of a lifetime, but to come off WMA makes it that much more special.