Cohutta WMA Mountain Buck
Hunter's Journal: GON readers share their favorite hunt stories.
By Tony Rittenhouse
First off I want to thank God for the opportunity and the good fortune I had to harvest this deer. I spent two days scouting Cohutta WMA, and the first day was on a Friday. I walked 15.2 miles that day and did not find hardly any deer sign at all. It took me Saturday and Sunday to recover from all that walking.
I went to a completely different part of the WMA on Monday and scouted and walked about 5 miles that day and found some good sign. It was about 1.5 miles from were I parked to where I found the sign.
So, on Tuesday in the middle of the day I carried my tree stand in and got it set up. While putting my stand on the tree, I had a deer blow at me. I sure hoped I didn’t run him out of there, so I quickly left.
On Wednesday morning, I got up at 3 a.m., finished packing my backpack with a ton of extra clothes and food. For the heck of it, I decided to weigh my pack, and it weighed 52 pounds.
I got to my parking spot at 4:30 a.m. and started walking in. Once I reached my stand, I started pulling wet clothes off and putting dry ones on before climbing the tree.
By daylight, I was wearing every piece of clothes I brought with me.
At 10:15 a.m., I heard a deer walking toward me on the side of the ridge exactly the way I thought one would come from. I got ready, and I could see him coming and tell he was a good one. When he got about 40 yards away, I shot him. He ran about 10 yards and stood there like he was sick or something. So, I shot him again. He ran another 10 yards and stood there looking sick again. So, I shot him again. This time he ran about 40 yards away and farther down the ridge and stopped. I shot him again, and he fell and started kicked all over the ground.
My gun was empty, and my shells were in my pocket under the coveralls I had on, and I couldn’t get to them fast enough. So, I was throwing my gloves off and trying to reach for another shell. I got one shell in the chamber and looked, and he was still laying there but not moving. My right leg got to shaking so bad I probably looked like Elvis dancing in the stand. I couldn’t believe I was so nervous. I have killed bigger deer than that, but man my adrenaline was really pumping, and I wasn’t really sure how big he was.
I climbed down the tree really fast, threw my coveralls off and boot warmers off and took off down to where he was laying. It turns out I hit him with all four shots. I got on my knees beside him and thanked God for such a beautiful deer and being able to have the opportunity to hunt him.
I checked my cell phone and I actually had service, so I called my wife, sent a picture of him and told her it might be the next day before I made it out.
After field-dressing him, I started dragging him. I like to have never made it back to my stand. I decided the only thing I could do was leave my stand and part of my clothes and come back and get them Thursday. So. I started the long, 1.5-mile drag out.
I talked to God several times and asked Him to give me the strength to get him out. After 6 1/2 hours, two of my sons showed up and drug him the last quarter of a mile.
On Thursday, I went back to get my stand and clothes and really did not realize what I had drug that deer up and through. I don’t think I could have done it without God’s help.
On the way out, I kept seeing deer hair on the logs I had to drag him over, and it made me think of my dad. He passed away September 2017. We always hunted together, and if we were not hunting together, he was always just a phone call away and would be the first one there to help me drag a deer. I sat on one of those logs and had me a good cry thinking about him.
Editor’s Note: Tony has not had his buck officially scored yet but says, “He is around 120. He has 21-inch main beams and an 18-inch spread. What hurts him on score is he is a 8-point, and his G3 on the right side is only 3 inches. He is still a good mountain buck, though. They pulled his jawbone, and he was 3 1/2 years old and dressed 144 pounds.”
Cohutta WMA All-time Buck Rankings
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 160 5/8 Gary Hall 1976 Murray Gun View 2 150 6/8 William Prather 1981 Fannin Gun 3 148 3/8 Max Falls 1973 Fannin Gun View 4 144 1/8 Jason Osgatharp 2019 Gilmer Gun View 5 140 1/8 Terry Fowler 2007 Gilmer Gun View 6 139 4/8 Estle Clayton 2006 Gilmer Gun View 7 135 2/8 Matthew Pickelsimer 2008 Fannin Gun View 8 134 6/8 Chuck Sizemore 2007 Murray Gun 9 134 5/8 Alton Powell 1982 Fannin Gun View 10 134 Steve Bradley 2007 Fannin Gun
GON’s WMA Buck List Online
GON’s collection of 11,250+ buck scores are now all online.
We began the effort to compile records of Georgia bucks more than 30 years ago. The County-by-County records were first published in the early 1990s after years of traveling the state going through old boxes of score sheets, measuring racks and following up on rumors of legendary bucks. Only racks measured by certified Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young scorers are included. All scores are net.
GON also keeps up with scores from bucks that have been killed on WMAs. All of those scores are online, as well. Just go to www.gon.com/deer-records and you can search by WMA.
If Tony decides to have his Cohutta buck scored, and if it holds an estimated score of 120 net inches, it’ll be ranked as No. 27 from this powerhouse mountain WMA.
To be included in the GON Georgia Deer Records, email a digital photo of the score sheet that includes the signature and certification number of the scorer to [email protected], and please include a photo of the hunter with the buck.