The 1957 Ralph Avant Buck From Jones County

Duncan Dobie | September 6, 2023

Ralph Avant shot his very first and probably his best buck ever in 1957 in Jones County when the deer season first opened. The heavy rack grossed nearly 160 inches.

These days, the discovery of a fine old trophy whitetail in Georgia from yesteryear is about as rare as finding an honest politician. But it does still happen, and it’s always exciting to see what history has yet to uncover. When I got a phone call from Warren Wright telling me he had an old trophy from Jones County that his grandfather had shot back in 1957, I was all ears. Warren had taken the old mount to Jerry Moseley at Buck Master Taxidermy in Macon to be remounted.

Warren’s grandfather, Ralph Avant, was born in 1914. In the early 1940s, he acquired 420 acres in Jones County and started a dairy farm. Like so many young men who had grown up during the Great Depression, he worked several jobs. The dairy business was a full time, seven-day-a-week job in itself, but he also worked for the Georgia Forestry Commission out of the Hillsboro office in Jasper County. Like so many farm boys in rural Georgia, Ralph grew up hunting quail and small game. When the first deer season opened in Jones County in 1957, he was very excited about the prospects of becoming a deer hunter.

A typical work day for Ralph started about 4 a.m. when he got up to milk the cows. After finishing his milking chores around 7 o’clock, he went back to the house, took a shower, probably ate some breakfast, and then headed out to his “day” job with the Georgia Forestry Commission. His daughter, Linda, remembers that for many years he taught young foresters how to cruise and mark timber. Reportedly he was very good at what he did and he had a long career with the Forestry Commission.    

Although the details of the hunt are sketchy, Linda and other family members believe he was hunting with a shotgun in a creek bottom when he downed what for him had to be the trophy of a lifetime. By cruising timber and marking trees every day, he no doubt became a very good woodsman and hunter. According to the family, 1957 was believed to have been the first open deer season of modern times for Jones County and probably several other surrounding counties. A number of central-Georgia counties had been stocked with Wisconsin deer in the late 1940s and early ’50s, and Ralph’s buck was likely the offspring of one of those big-bodied northern deer.

It makes good sense that Ralph was probably hunting with a shotgun and buckshot that day. Clayton Kitchens, a well-known and much-loved barber in Gray was also hunting with a shotgun in Jones County that same season when he downed his massive 10-pointer that scored 180 7/8 inches. Because deer hunting was so new to the area, most farm boys did not yet own a deer rifle, but in those days everybody owned a shotgun or a .22 for squirrels, rabbits and birds. Over the years, Ralph reportedly shot many more deer, mostly for the freezer. But that one buck that he shot way back in 1957 always hung proudly in his home and always stood out as the best buck he ever killed.

Ralph Avant passed away in 2004 at the age of 90. Warren Wright, his grandson, who for many years owned a landscaping business in Orlando, Florida, inherited the old trophy mount and a portion of the family farm. Just recently, Warren and his mother, who also lived in Orlando, decided to move back to Georgia and relocate on the old family property in Jones County. Warren sold his landscaping business and is now building a house on the farm. He plans to hang the much-loved family heirloom over his fireplace as a tribute to his grandfather as soon as the new mount is completed.

Warren Wright, grandson of Ralph Avant, is building a home on a portion of the dairy farm property that he inherited. He plans to get his grandfather’s vintage trophy buck remounted and hang it over the fireplace.

The Avant buck was on display at the 2023 GON Outdoor Blast. It may not be a record for Jones County, but it’s certainly an outstanding trophy. The heavy rack is a main-frame 5×5 with an impressive 19 5/8 inch inside spread. It grosses 159 4/8 inches and nets 146 6/8. Had it not been for a broken brow tine, the rack would have netted over 150 inches.

Jerry Moseley, of Buck Master Taxidermy in Macon, has been plying his trade for over 62 years. It was a thrill for me to visit his shop and see some of his great work. If you live in the Macon area and you need any taxidermy work, call his shop at 478.757.9940.

Jones County Best Bucks Of All-Time

1180 7/8 Clayton Kitchens1957JonesGunView 
2207 3/8 (NT)Jerry Malone1967JonesGunView 
3203 4/8 (NT)Curtis Long1966JonesGun
4197 4/8 (NT)Earl Williams1962JonesGunView 
5192 4/8 (NT)Fred Maxwell1962JonesGun
6192 3/8 (NT)Emory Tribble1989JonesGunView 
7164 5/8 Larry Scarborough1981JonesGun
8188 (NT)Abe Northcutt1958JonesGunView 
9163 6/8 Bobby Doming1963JonesGun
10162 2/8 Michael McDonald Sr.2002JonesGunView 

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  1. jimmyjones on September 7, 2023 at 9:46 am

    Very interesting article! My wife was born in 1957 in Hillsboro, and Ralph Avant was a cousin of hers.

  2. pilgrim on September 6, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    Outstanding! I can’t imagine how many monsters roamed Jones county in the late 50s and early 60s. Just curious – why is the Victor Montford Buck not still in the top 10 for Jones County? I think it scored around 192” nontypical.

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