Dustin Collins, of Brunswick, finally killed his dream buck, “Shady,” on Monday, Sept.18. Not only was it his dream buck, but it was his first bow buck, as well. Shady was green scored at Sterling Wildgame Processing and came in with a gross-score of 150 3/8 inches.
This Glynn County buck will take the new bow record and most likely stand for a while. Shady is a main-frame 8-point with kickers, an eye guard that has a drop tine, and a double main beam on the left side.
After hunting this buck for two hard years in remembrance of his dad, Dustin finally sealed the deal and couldn’t believe it. Dustin’s dad, Grady Collins, passed away in 2011 from a brain tumor at 68 years old.
“He loved the outdoors, spending time at the drag races and talking about cars, but he wasn’t a very big hunter, except for running dogs,” stated Dustin.
Grady owned a transmission shop, Grady’s Transmission, in Brunswick for about 40 years.
“The reason my friends and I named this buck like we did was because my dad’s nickname to his close friends was ‘Shady Grady,’ said Dustin. “Nobody would ever tell me why, and they still keep it a secret. Then my friend pointed out that the deer had an eye guard, and it was casting shade over his right eye, so it was all just too perfect.”
Grady bought an 8-acre piece of land with a house on it back in the 1980s and left it to Dustin.
Dustin has been taking his 7-year-old girl, Peyton, with him to the woods for the last year. They originally named Shady “Peyton’s buck.” With only one rifle spot on his land, it was going to be hard to get Peyton on the buck.
Dustin also has a 3-year-old son, Jason, who will likely be taking to the woods soon.
Dustin first saw Shady as a small 6-point in 2015 on a dirt road by his house.
“Back then, I had never really set up anything on our property to hunt, and it never really crossed my mind to go out there,” said Dustin.
After Dustin saw Shady, he went to the back of his property and started cleaning spots out to hunt and put up trail cameras.
In August 2016, Dustin got pictures of Shady as an 8-point with a few of his kickers, and it really showed the true potential he had. From August to early September, he had pictures of Shady at nighttime or right at dusk. He would get two or three phone calls a week from his friends telling him that Shady was spotted on the highway. Dustin hunted him hard that year. He passed up a number of bucks because the only one he really wanted was Shady. In return, Dustin finished up the 2016 season empty-handed.
“After that, I didn’t see him again. It was like the rut pushed him away,” Dustin said.
When Hurricane Irma came through Brunswick and everyone evacuated, Dustin stayed just to hunt Shady. On opening morning, Sept. 9, Dustin left his friend’s house and headed to the woods. On his way, he saw Shady running across the highway, which was only 200 to 300 yards away from Dustin’s stand.
“By the time I got to the woods and parked, I was too scared to walk to my stand because I didn’t want to bump him,” said Dustin.
Dustin left that morning and went home sick to his stomach because of what had just happened. Dustin had taken his cameras up due to the hurricane, so he didn’t have any pictures of Shady for 13 days.
On Sept. 18, Dustin still didn’t have his cameras out and had no clue if Shady was in the area. That day, it was 91 degrees, and the wind was completely wrong for Dustin’s spot. With Dustin’s friends staying on him about hunting Shady hard, he went anyway.
“I got off work at 4:30 p.m., which was late,” said Dustin. “I’m usually in the woods by 3 o’clock at the latest. I took a quick scent shower, the camo I wore was from a hunt two days earlier and hadn’t been washed. Literally everything that could’ve gone wrong with this hunt, went wrong.”
He took his trail camera with him to put it back out but forgot the SD card. Dustin’s corn pile had run out of corn, so he took a bag of corn in the woods with him and put it out. He wadded up the bag and put it in some bushes to get it on his way out. He forgot his bow hanger, as well, and was pouring sweat by the time he got in his lock-on stand. His intentions were to get a doe that day. Killing Shady wasn’t even on his mind.
“I remember thinking that there was no way that I was going to see anything,” said Dustin. “Right around 6:30, I was so out of the hunt that all I could think about was going to get my wallet and getting food because I was starving.”
Then about 6:45, his luck changed. The two yearlings that he always watches came out and were eating. They were really antsy and were constantly looking around. He knew that they always traveled with two does, one was a solo doe, and the other was their mama. They came out, too.
“I heard a bunch of running back off to my right,” said Dustin. “I’m watching the solo doe, who was eating maybe 30 to 40 yards behind the other three deer. But I was still hearing rustling 60 to 70 yards back in all the thick stuff.”
It was so thick behind Dustin that he couldn’t see anything. It was unusual for Dustin to hear additional rustling noise out of his stand. He had always watched the group of yearlings and does, and they were very calm and quiet.
Around 7:15, the rustling got closer to him, and a small spike jumped out in front of him. He was in his pre-rut stage because his tarsals were starting to change colors, and his neck was swollen.
The spike caused the yearlings to run off to the right of Dustin’s stand. Dustin pulled out his phone and sent a picture of the spike to his friends. When he was in the motion of putting his phone in his pocket, Shady grunted. He finished putting his phone in his pocket and hooked onto his d-loop. Then rustling started again over where the yearlings had run off to. Shady grunted again, and the spike was directly under Dustin’s stand.
“Shady stepped out maybe 2 yards into the opening from the thick stuff. I knew it was Shady the moment he stepped out,” said Dustin. “He stepped out another 7 yards when I could finally get a real good look at him. Shady and the spike stared each other down, and Shady lowered his head at him. The spike backed up a little bit. Where Shady stepped out, there was a small batch of trees, and I could see Shady’s body, but the leaves on the tops of the trees had Shady’s eyesight covered in my direction.”
Dustin slowly drew his bow back trying not to spook the spike and does that were still in the area. Shady took a few more steps and ended up at about 30 yards slightly quartering away from Dustin.
“It was now or never. It went from 30 seconds of thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe he was there to shooting him at 7:29,” Dustin said.
Shady came out with 15 to 20 minutes of shooting light left, and Dustin couldn’t believe it. He only had five pictures of Shady in daylight in the past two years.
Dustin shot him with an arrow that had a green Lumenok on it, and all he could see was his green nock tear off through the bushes. The arrow didn’t make a complete pass-through, and he didn’t hear a crash or anything. He immediately started feeling sick to his stomach.
“I started calling my buddies Brad, Drew, Austin and Chris,” said Dustin. “They knew I was hunting this deer and knew the full story. I never call them, and from the moment they all answered their phones, they pretty much knew what happened.”
Every one of Dustin’s friends came over to help without hesitation. They ran over the hunt and were giving Shady time to expire and went back into the woods an hour or so later to start tracking Shady. From where Dustin shot him, it was another 20 to 25 yards before they started to find blood. Where they started finding blood is where it transitions from really open to really thick. It was very hard to find blood in that stuff, so they went on without finding blood. Dustin knew that his arrow was still in Shady, so there was no point in trying to find his arrow.
They came up to a log that was lying across the trail that Shady was running, and he jumped over the log. On the other side of the log, where he came down, was where they really started to find a good blood trail. All of Dustin’s friends were tracking in front of him, and he was in the back feeling sick.
“I was telling Drew to hold up. I kept on asking questions as to why he wasn’t dead yet, and where was my nock… It was unreal how saddened I was in the hype of what just happened,” Dustin said.
Chris was in the front really finding the blood and tracking him when he called back for Dustin. Of course, Austin, Drew and Brad all ran up there before Dustin. By the time Austin got to him, he couldn’t even contain himself. He was screaming. By the time Dustin got up there, he jumped into Chris with excitement and almost fell over. Ultimately, Shady ran 120 to 125 yards from where Dustin shot him.
“It was unreal, I got to hear him grunt, and he came out in daylight,” said Dustin. “I’m convinced that the rustling I heard was him running that mama doe because when he came out, he was in full rut. His tarsals were completely black almost all the way down to his hooves. I couldn’t believe he was there… I had made all kinds of noise, everything was going wrong that day… It was a 2-year hunt that ended in all of about 30 seconds from the time Shady stepped out. I wasn’t thinking about records or anything like that. It was just that I had passed up 50 or so bucks trying to wait on Shady.
“My dad would’ve never thought of a deer like that coming out on our property, or else he probably would’ve hunted back there every day.”
As the guys were dragging Shady out of the woods, they got turned around and ended up lost. Thankfully, Drew pulled out his keys and made his truck alarm go off, and that’s how they found their way back to the trucks. It took them a lot longer getting out of the woods than it did getting in. Grady’s friend Frankie, who owns Sterling Wildgame Processing, told Dustin to bring Shady to him. When they pulled up in the parking lot, there were already 10 to 15 people waiting to see Shady.
Dustin is going to start filming his hunts, even though Shady won’t be on there. Frankie has had more people at his processing place in the last couple of weeks than he ever has due to them wanting to see Shady.
Dustin added that his kids Peyton and Jason will be working on getting their names in GON‘s County-by-County Big Buck Rankings list and following in their daddy’s footsteps.
With a gross score of 150 3/8 inches, it’s hard to say where the buck will net as a non-typical. It appears that side-to-side deductions are minimal. Dustin will have to wait the required 60-day drying period before having Shady officially scored.
The best buck ever killed in Glynn County was a 182-inch non-typical deer taken by H.L. Aultman Sr. in 1955. The No. 10 buck in this coastal county is a 115 3/8-inch buck killed by Daniel Wooten in 1997.
Glynn County’s best bow-kill sits at No. 14 of all-time. That deer scores 110 5/8 inches and was killed by Sutton Slover in 2000.