Bonnie Harrison’s 160-inch Hall County Buck
As the 2001 Georgia deer season began, the landscape sure had changed along the Gwinnett and Hall County line where 70-year-old Bonnie Harrison had lived for more than 25 years. What was once sure-enough Georgia countryside — mostly small farms, pastureland, and woods — is now cut by huge neighborhoods, shopping centers, and busy roads buzzing with vehicles.
A small field or patch of woods tucked behind a home or shopping center is a tiny oasis of wildlife habitat, and one thing we have learned in the past few years about white-tailed deer in Georgia is that these creatures can adapt to life in our backyards.
If you viewed a suburban area like this from the air, you would see veins of woods along creeks and small patches of habitat here and there. In these suburban settings, the does tend to find a small safe haven and stick to that area.
The suburban bucks, meanwhile, will travel great distances during the rut. Very rarely do you hear of a suburban buck killed by a hunter on a small tract who was hunting big-buck sign. More often, a big buck is killed by a hunter who had never seen the buck or any big-buck sign — or the buck is hit by a vehicle.
“You know how people say, ‘I saw a big one?’ Well, I never saw that buck before,” Bonnie said. “We had heard a few people say they saw a big buck, but you always hear those stories.”
Bonnie lives in Hall County, but he is close enough to the Gwinnett County line that his address is Buford. He hunts several small tracts of land in the area, usually with Ed Long, his 79-year-old “sidekick.”
The first week of the 2001 season, Bonnie shot at and missed a 4-point buck. Later that day he sighted-in the rifle, and learned that the scope had been knocked off target.
“It turns out, missing that little buck was a good thing because I got the scope sighted in,” he said.
The morning of November 10, Bonnie was watching a 300-yard long, narrow field. One side of the field is bordered by a small, thick creek branch.
“That little hollow leads to where my stand is. I looked out there and saw him walk out of that thick branch, and here he came up along the edge of the field, at a fast walk. He was coming straight towards me, and I thought, ‘I sure hope he stops.’ He turned a little to the right, and I shot him behind the shoulder. He ran back, stopped, and I shot again, and he fell over. Those shots were two inches apart.”
Bonnie’s buck netted 160 7/8 points, helped by a 17 3/8-inch inside spread and main beams that measured more than 25 1/2 inches. The gross score was 168 1/8. The last point (G-4) on one side was 7 7/8 inches and the other G-4 was only 3 4/8 inches — a 9-inch swing. Had the short one matched the longer G-4, Bonnie’s buck would have scored right at the 170-point Boone & Crockett minimum. It is the No. 2 buck of all-time from Hall County.
The mount of Bonnie’s buck hangs next to a pretty 10-point he killed in Putnam County 19 years ago. “That was my first one,” he said of the older mount, then pointing at his 2001 buck, “and they don’t come like this often.”
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 173 1/8 Levi Sullens 2022 Hall Crossbow View 2 164 6/8 Donnie Mitchell 1994 Hall Gun View 3 160 7/8 Bonnie Harrison 2001 Hall Gun View 4 156 4/8 Ronald Staton 2018 Hall Gun 5 152 William Ridgeway 2009 Hall Bow 6 151 Marty Jarrard 2007 Hall Bow View 7 149 6/8 David Baird 1994 Hall Gun 8 149 5/8 Tyler Moran 2009 Hall Found 9 148 1/8 Matt Lynn 1992 Hall Gun 10 145 6/8 James Stanford 1999 Hall Found
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