Abe Northcutt’s 1958 Jones County Giant Buck
What does Mr. Abe A. Northcutt, of Eatonton, have in common with the late, great Fred Bear? For starters, at a spry 80 years of age, “Mr. Abe,” as his friends fondly call him, is an avid whitetail hunter who has been chasing Piedmont bucks for nearly 40 years. Mr. Abe started hunting deer in Jones County in the mid 1950s shortly after the first rifle season of modem times opened in that area. He’s been deer hunting in Jones County ever since. During that time, it’s safe to say that Mr. Abe has accounted for his fair share of Georgia bucks.
Although he has done most of his whitetail hunting with a rifle, Mr. Abe has one other important thing in common with the world famous sportsman, Fred Bear. Just like the bowhunting legend who did not start big game hunting in earnest until he was well into his 40s, Mr. Abe’s biggest buck was taken in November, 1958, when he was 44 years old.
If you’re one of those “privileged” hunters who has recently discovered more that a few new gray hairs in your beard, let’s take just a second to put things in perspective. Although Fred Bear shot his first deer with a rifle when be was 14 years old, he did not start bowhunting until he was in his 30s, and he did not arrow his first whitetail until he was 33. What’s more, virtually all of his most distinguished big game trophies were not taken until much later in his life when he was well into his 50s and 60s. For instance, Fred Bear was an energetic 53 years old (or young, depending on how you look at it) when he embarked on his first African safari. He was 58 in 1960 when he arrowed his much-renowned world-record Kodiak brown bear in Alaska. He was 61 years old when he first hunted tigers in India. There is hope, my friend, no matter how badly those creaking old knees and elbows seem to be bothering you!
Like a lot of exceptional Georgia trophies, Mr. Abe’s enormous Jones County monster managed to hang on his wall for 36 years without receiving any type of official recognition. Just recently, though, at the urging of several of his friends, he decided to take his vintage trophy to the 1994 Buckarama in Perry to be officially scored. What a show stopper it turned out to be!
Most sportsmen who are old enough (and lucky enough) to have hunted in the Peach State during the 50s and ’60s consider that era to be the “golden age” of deer hunting in Georgia. Although wide-spreading trophy bucks were not hiding behind every tree as some old-timers might like to have you believe, a number of Georgia’s most distinguished record-book whitetails—including Mr. Abe’s giant 15-point non-typical—were taken by enterprising hunters during that memorable time period. And now that it has been officially recognized, Mr. Abe’s impressive trophy whitetail will no doubt go down in the records as one of Jones County’s all-time greats alongside some of its distinguished predecessors!
A native of South Carolina, Abe Northcutt moved to the Macon area in 1953. When the first legal deer season in central Georgia opened a year or two later, Mr. Abe headed for the deer woods in Jones County armed with an old “sweet 16” pump shotgun that he had purchased at Sears. He began a hunting career in Georgia that would eventually span portions of five decades.
“During one of those early seasons prior to 1958, I shot a very nice buck with that shotgun,” Mr. Abe remembers. “I was using buckshot, and I made what I thought was a very good shot on that deer. He left a good blood trail, but he got away. That really made me sick, so as soon as I got home, I retired that shotgun and went out and bought myself a brand-new Model 94 Winchester .30/30. At that time, that was about the best deer rifle you could buy.”
Armed with his new rifle, Mr. Abe was ready for action when opening day of the 1958 season arrived on a chilly Saturday morning in early November. As usual, he planned to hunt on the old Williams place with his good friend and hunting companion, C. B. Miller. C. B. lived just off Highway 129 in northeastern Jones County, midway between Gray and Eatonton.
“I would usually drive to C.B’s house, and we would leave from there on foot and walk over to the Williams place well before sunup,” Mr. Abe remembers. “It was clear and cold on that particular Saturday morning, and there was a heavy, heavy frost on the ground. In fact, everything was covered with such a thick coating of frost that it looked like it had snowed during the night. I took a stand on the ground in a clump of four or five sweetgum trees that had grown together in a good spot near a opening in the woods.
“Shortly after it got light enough to see, I looked off to my left and saw a big deer coming right toward me. I could tell right away that it was a huge buck. He was walking at a brisk pace, and he looked as though something had spooked him. Every eight or 10 steps, he would stop and look back as if he thought something was following him. I hunkered down, propped my rifle against one of the tree trunks, and waited for him to get closer. When he got within range—around 60 or 70 yards, maybe—I aimed for his rib cage just behind his shoulder and let him have it. He immediately took off running. I went running after him, hoping to get another shot, but he was too fast for me. He ran down into a hardwood draw filled with oak trees, and he went out of sight. When I got down there, I couldn’t believe it. He was stretched out on the ground—dead.My bullet had gone right through his heart. He was huge! I was one excited deer hunter!”
Mr. Abe quickly went and found his hunting partner, C.B. Together, they walked back to the house and got C.B.’s truck. Through a stroke of luck, they were able to drive the truck to within a few yards of the0 enormous buck.
“We knew he was a real trophy, but nobody made that much of a fuss over big antlers back in those days,” Mr. Abe remembers. “After we got him back to C.B.’s house, we weighed him on some cotton scales. He weighed 302 pounds on the hoof. Everyone told me I should get him mounted, so I took him up to Athens and had him mounted by Fred Silvey. Fred was about the only taxidermist around in those days. I think it cost me $40 for a neck mount. I went ahead and had him remounted about eight or 10 years ago.”
As mentioned, Mr. Abe’s impressive Jones Co. trophy buck hung proudly in his home for the next 36 years. In August, 1994, he decided to have the vintage trophy scored at the Perry Buckarama. A 4×5 in basic antler configuration, the huge rack also sported three abnormal points on each side. With seven points on the left side and eight on the right, for a total of 15 scorable points, the rack fell into the non-typical category. Despite deductions for non-symmetry and a broken brow tine on the left side that would have measured at least 3 inches in length, Mr. Abe’s once in a lifetime whitetail nonetheless scored an impressive 188 non-typical points. Had Mr. Abe’s buck not been penalized heavily for non-symmetry, it easily would have qualified for the all-time Boone & Crockett record book—the minimum net score for a non-typical is 195. . Putting the score aside, one fact is certain. Mr. Abe’s exceptional trophy will certainly rank within the top four or five non-typical bucks to be taken in central Georgia.
At the Perry Buckarama, a highly energetic Mr. Abe was like a kid in a candy store. He kept himself busy looking at all of the exhibits, buying the latest hunting videos, and in general getting ready for the 1994 hunting season. It was plain to see that he loved all of the hoopla and excitement that surrounded his buck.
“Over the years since 1958, I’ve killed some nice 8-pointers and a couple of nines,” Mr. Abe says, “but I’ve never seen anything in the woods that compares to my 1958 buck. I’m sure he was a direct descendant of one of those huge Wisconsin whitetails they turned loose in Jones County in the early ’50s.”
Looking remarkably fit and trim for his 80 years, Mr. Abe has one last thing to share with his fellow Georgia deer hunters: “I’m ready for the ’94 season,” he says with a big grin. “And I can still climb a tree!”
Jones County All-Time Buck Rankings
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 180 7/8 Clayton Kitchens 1957 Jones Gun View 2 207 3/8 (NT) Jerry Malone 1967 Jones Gun View 3 203 4/8 (NT) Curtis Long 1966 Jones Gun 4 197 4/8 (NT) Earl Williams 1962 Jones Gun View 5 192 4/8 (NT) Fred Maxwell 1962 Jones Gun 6 192 3/8 (NT) Emory Tribble 1989 Jones Gun View 7 164 5/8 Larry Scarborough 1981 Jones Gun 8 188 (NT) Abe Northcutt 1958 Jones Gun View 9 163 6/8 Bobby Doming 1963 Jones Gun 10 162 2/8 Michael McDonald Sr. 2002 Jones Gun View
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