19-Point, 188-Inch Velvet Freak With A Crossbow

This buck from Houston County had some 'male-parts issues' that likely caused it to grow a unique and awesome rack that stayed in velvet.

Daryl Kirby | November 26, 2019

“It’s a good one.”

In the understatement of the season, that’s how Philip Holt began the conversation when he got a call from GON about an amazing buck he killed yesterday, Nov. 25, in Houston County.

Philip was hunting with a crossbow on a small tract of land in the city limits of Centerville when he got a shot at a huge, unique buck in velvet that had multiple drops tines and a mass of antler and points.

Philip, of Byron, leases the small tract with his friend Josh Norton, of Warner Robins. Philip said he and Josh got a picture on their SpyPoint cellular camera that showed the buck in the area at around 5:30 p.m. last week.

“This is the first season we’ve had the lease,“ Philip said. “We got him on camera, and then he disappeared for about a month. He showed back up last week, and I decided to go in and hunt.”

Philip said the area where they got the picture is pretty thick, with planted pines and some hardwoods. Josh had a climber attached to a tree, and that’s where Philip intended to hunt. He got the climber, but it had a lock on it, and Philip couldn’t get the combination to work.

“I found a spot where I could sit on the ground where there were small cedars that acted like a natural ground blind,” Philip said.

Philip Holt and Josh Norton with the 19-point velvet buck taken with a crossbow by Philip on their Houston County lease. 

So that’s where Philip sat, an unintentional OTG (on the ground) hunt with a crossbow. As the evening wore on, all was peaceful and calm, that is until Philip looked down the row of pines and saw the velvet freak walking straight toward him, just 40 yards away.

Philip Holt with what is one of the biggest bucks—and certainly most unique—ever taken with a crossbow in Georgia. The 19-pointer was measured at more than 188 total inches. Although that’s an unofficial green score, the rack undoubtably has an amazing rack.

“He kind of turned and walked behind me. He’s probably 15 yards behind me, and I could hear him crunching leaves as he walked, and then he stopped. My heart sank. I thought it was over with. I thought he was going to smell me. And that’s what he did. He took two big bounding leaps, but then he stopped behind a cedar tree.”

Realizing that he might still have a chance, Philip said he picked up his crossbow and whirled around, hoping the buck would step out and offer a shot.

“He started to leap out. I put it on him and pulled the trigger. He runs off, and now I’m freaking out. Buck fever galore, I was shaking so bad.”

Philip called his wife, and she brought their Boykin spaniel out.

“We looked for blood, and we couldn’t find anything. My friend Josh that I’m on the lease with was heading out, and we finally found some blood. We started tracking to the edge of some super thick stuff. I felt like the shot was a little far back. I wasn’t confident. The blood was not very promising. We stopped and called several numbers in the GON tracking dog list, but we couldn’t find anyone who could come out that night. So we just back out.

“We met up this morning right at daylight,” Philip said. “Of course the dew had pretty much wiped the blood away. We just started zig-zagging, and my friend found him. He went about 300 yards. It was a very good thing I backed out last night. When we got him to the deer cooler, Drew said he still felt a little warm, like maybe he hadn’t been dead long when we found him. I think if we had pushed last night we would have bumped him.”

Philip took the buck to Drew Copelan at The Meat Shed near Eatonton, which is where Philip used to live.

“I know Drew and know he does good work, so that’s why I came up there,” Philip said.

Drew took the measurements and came up with 188 total inches of antler on the velvet rack.

“Man he is incredible,” Drew said. “On that one side with all the drop tines he has more than 36 inches of non-typical points.”

Like most bucks with huge, odd racks racks still in velvet this time of year, this one had some issues with its male parts.

“After we found him, we took him to the WRD office in Fort Valley,” Philip said. “A biologist said that based on what he saw, the deer probably started out as normal, but somehow he got hurt or an infection, and he lost his testicles. The biologist said from that point on, he doesn’t have testosterone, so he wouldn’t shed his antlers, and that’s why he continued to grow like that.”


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