199-Inch Redemption Buck

This Harris County 18-point giant offered a rare second chance.

Mike Bolton | November 14, 2021

Like many who take a once-in-a-lifetime buck, Pine Mountain’s Cory Croft played a years-long chess game with a monstrous buck that freely roamed on and off his property.

On Nov. 12, Cory finally got to proclaim checkmate.

Cory used a rifle to take an 18-point Harris County buck that rough-scored 199 inches. He was ecstatic at taking his biggest buck ever, but a little disappointed that he didn’t take it with his bow in September when he had the chance.

“I first saw this buck two years ago when it was a 3-year-old,” the wildlife manager explained about the buck that appeared on camera on the 7,200-acre tract he manages in Harris County. “He showed up for several days and just disappeared. He then started showing up on my neighbor’s property.

“I never saw him last year. My neighbor didn’t see him for a long time. My neighbor and I communicate really well. He finally sent me a picture and said, ‘Look who showed back up.’

“The buck spent this past summer on my neighbor’s property. I never saw him.”

Cory’s luck would change when bow season came around. Trail-camera photos revealed that the big buck had returned to his property.

“I got him back on my cameras in September,” he said. “It was bow season and I decided to go in and hunt him. He was a no-show on the first two hunts, but he came in on my third sit about 6:30 in the afternoon. He got within about 20 yards, but a limb was blocking his vitals.

“I needed him to take about two steps when a coyote spooked him. He ran about 80 yards and just stood there for about five minutes. Finally, the coyote started moving in his direction and he ran off.”

Cory assumed the day’s hunt was over, but he was shocked when the big buck returned to his location.

“About 7:40, he came back to where I was,” he said. “I had bought a new release for my bow that day and I didn’t know that the trigger tension was a lot lighter. He was just 22 yards away. I was wearing a glove. I drew back and was settling the pin on him when I touched the trigger and the sucker went off. The arrow hit him right on the shoulder blade. He ran off. There wasn’t much blood.”

Cory Croft’s 18-point Harris County buck was green-scored at 199 total inches. The rack sets up as a main-frame 10-pointer that is very symmetrical and won’t have much for side-to-side deductions on the net score.

Cory’s consolation came when his neighbor contacted him and told him that the buck had returned to his property and was still alive.

“A week ago, he showed back up in photos on my property,” Cory said. “Two times in the afternoon I saw him bedded in a thicket and he just lay there until dark. On the third afternoon, I hunted him again.

“A buck chased a doe in behind me. Another buck came in and the two bucks started bowing up at each other. The doe ran off. The 3-year-old buck finally started looking for the doe. I got my binoculars and started looking for the doe, too. That’s when I saw the big buck bedded down about 80 yards away. I could see his antlers, but not his body. The 3-year-old buck walked over to him and I got ready. The big buck stood up. I shot and he ran only 16 yards.”

Cory has seen some huge bucks over the years, and he has killed some great deer. This buck, however, is in another category—a true Georgia giant. The rack has 18 scorable points (at least an inch long). It sets up as a 168-inch main-frame 10-point with about 31 inches on the eight abnormal points. With all those abnormal inches, it’s definitely going to score better as a non-typical. The green score tallied 199 total inches. Even on a non-typical, the main-frame part of the rack gets symmetry deductions, but this rack won’t have many. The minimum net score for a non-typical rack to make the all-time Boone & Crockett record book is 195.

“He was my best buck ever by more than 20 inches,” Cory said.

Harris County All-Time Record Bucks

1204 6/8 (NT)Lauren Atwell2002HarrisGunView 
2199 6/8 (NT)Ken Brown1974HarrisGun
3170 6/8 Gorman Riley1983HarrisGunView 
4170 2/8 Jeff Foxworthy2018HarrisBowView 
5168 4/8 Gary Mailhot1983HarrisGun
6192 1/8 (NT)Cory Croft2021HarrisGunView 
7166 4/8 Charles Minton1969HarrisGun
8188 7/8 (NT)Earl Williamson1974HarrisGun
9162 1/8 Glenn Jackson2014HarrisGunView 
10161 7/8 Glenn Garner2017HarrisBowView 

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