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17-Year-Old’s Quest Ends With 185-Inch Giant

Mike Bolton | November 23, 2022

Sumner Powell, 17, of Omega, with his 15-point Tift County buck that has about 185 inches of total antler.

Sumner Powell is no stranger to the deer-hunting limelight. At age 8, the now Tift County High School junior became one of the youngest participants ever in the GON Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. He didn’t win, but he was a crowd favorite as he advanced through the single-elimination rounds and made it to the final 10 shooters.

Now, the 17-year-old is in the limelight again. This time, he’s dropping jaws with a monster buck that he took on Sunday, Nov. 20. The 15-point buck with a non-typical rack and incredible mass has been rough-scored at 185 gross inches.

The only problem? Although the buck would be a likely weekly winner in the 2022 Truck-Buck competition, there will be no Shoot-Out for Sumner this time. The family did not subscribe to GON magazine this year. Regardless, finally taking the buck that has haunted him for years is reward enough, he says.

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the woods through the years looking for this buck,” he said. “We’ve had him on camera for five years. He was about 110 inches then. I passed him up about 4 years ago when he was small, but I decided then that he would be a future shooter. I found his sheds three years ago, and he had gotten big. Two years ago, I got out of my stand, and I didn’t know he was right there. He ran off and I didn’t get a shot.”

Sumner decided that his best strategy would be to spend as many hours as possible in his stand on the private property in Tift County. Hunting on just 60 acres, he also had to hope that someone else wouldn’t get a shot at the roving buck before he did.

Sumner arranged his schedule at school so that he would have no classes during the first period. That enabled him to hunt the buck before school every morning. After school ended for the day, he’d rush back into the woods again.

“I had a stand set up looking down a lane cut through the woods,” he explained. “The lane is about 20 feet wide and about 200 yards or so long. It’s next to a creek. We planted a food plot in the lane. It is planted in oats, clover and radishes. We also put out some high-protein, Rack-Em-Up feed to grow bigger antlers on the bucks.”

Sumner said he would occasionally get the buck on camera once this hunting season began, but the buck never appeared when he was in his stand. When the buck disappeared from his cameras for two weeks earlier this month, Sumner said he didn’t know what to think.

The Powells have had the buck on trail-camera pictures for five years.

Despite the years of drama chasing the buck, it would come to an almost anti-climatic end a few weeks ago.

“I got in my stand about 4 o’clock on that Sunday afternoon,” he said. “This 6-point buck and a doe came out. Another small buck crossed the lane. About 5:15, a doe came out in the lane and started eating. Then another doe ran out and the big buck came out chasing her. I got my gun ready. He would run her in and out of the lane so fast that I couldn’t a shot. Finally, he stopped about 180 to 200 yards away and he was quartering. I shot and he dropped in his tracks. He didn’t get back up.”

 

Sumner Powell competing in the 2014 Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. Sumner was a crowd favorite, especially as he made it to the fourth round.

 

Sumner Powell with his buck taken in 2013.

The Omega resident said the response from his family and friends has been overwhelming.

“There have been so many handshakes and hugs, and they are still going on,” Sumner said. “Those who know the story of me and this deer are still congratulating me. They know how much time I’ve spent hunting this buck. They know how many deer I’ve let walk hoping this buck would come out.”

Lee Powell, Sumner’s father, says it makes him proud to see his son stick with a dream for so long and see it come into fruition.

“I used to hunt,” he explained. “I killed a buck once that Sumner wanted to get, and I saw how it broke his heart. At that point I stepped back and became a cheerleader. It means more to me now to see Sumner or his sister get a deer.

“He has been hunting on his own since he was 12, and I thought it was safe,” he said. “He took the hunting safety courses. He’s been dedicated.”

Tift County Best Bucks Of All-Time

Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo
1 172 Mayo Tucker 1982 Tift Gun
2 170 Alan Parrish 1990 Tift Gun View 
3 170 Eric Mullis 2020 Tift Gun View 
4 166 5/8 Tommy Johnson 1993 Tift Gun View 
5 160 7/8 Tye Cottle 2018 Tift Gun View 
6 179 7/8 (NT) Andrew Grimes 2018 Tift Gun View 
7 154 Monty Veazey 1986 Tift Gun
8 153 5/8 Chris Carlisle 2018 Tift Gun View 
9 175 6/8 (NT) Luke Fletcher 2009 Tift Gun View 
10 175 (NT) Nathan Dowdy 1996 Tift Gun View 

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