Brent McCarty’s Macon County Monster
It was a little after 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 11 when Brent McCarty of Ellaville finally settled down in his 14-foot box stand and prepared to hunt until dark. Brent was dead tired. He had covered a lot of miles during the past 24 hours. Now that he was finally in the woods, the fatigue he felt from an all-night bus ride the day before seemed to be offset by the excitement of sitting in a deer stand with his favorite rifle across his lap.
Brent and his 12-year-old son Daniel had just returned from a 5-day school trip to Washington, D.C., where Brent and his wife Kay had served as chaperones. The trip had been great, but the all-night bus ride home had been extremely tiring for everyone in the family. Exhausted or not, the minute they arrived home on Thursday morning, the father-and-son hunting team immediately made plans to hunt that afternoon. After resting for several hours, they headed for the woods.
There was good reason for Brent’s excitement. Just prior to leaving town the weekend before, he had found two fresh scrape lines made by what appeared to be an unusually large buck in a swampy area not far from his stand. Brent knew there was no time to waste. The rut would be in full swing within a day or two, and there was no better time to be in the November woods.
“The property we hunt in Macon County is owned by Andy Harvill, a good friend of mine,” Brent said. “We played football all through high school and graduated together. Andy is originally from Americus, but he lives in Covington now. He still owns the same 250-acre farm in southwest Macon County where he was raised.”
Brent and Andy started deer hunting on this property during the early ’70s, shortly after the first deer season opened in Macon County.
“In those days, we didn’t hunt like we do today,” Brent said with a grin. “Since we played football together, we usually stayed up pretty late at night on Fridays after our games. So, we got in the habit of doing most of our deer hunting on Saturday afternoons.”
After high school, Andy went off to college. Brent ended up serving a 5-year stint in the Air Force. When Brent returned home in 1987, he got a job with the Georgia Forestry Commission. Today, Brent serves as Chief Ranger for the Schley-Sumter County Forestry Unit. Brent loves his work. “It’s the greatest job in the world,” he brags.
“After I got out of the Air Force, Andy and I got back together and started doing all kinds of hunting,” Brent said. “We started hunting on Andy’s farm again in the late ’80s. By then, a large portion of the property had been clearcut and replanted in pines.”
Like most novice hunters, Brent and Andy took a number of smaller bucks off the farm during those early years. As time went by, however, they began to get more selective.
“We always knew the potential was excellent,” Brent said. “We had seen several huge bucks on the farm over the years, and we started getting serious about quality management.”
In 1995, Andy killed a beautiful 10-pointer that scored in the 140s. Two years later in December ’97, Brent killed an outstanding 150-class 12-pointer out of the same stand that he was now sitting in. Andy’s 10-pointer was also taken in the same area.
“Hunting pressure has always been fairly light on the farm,” Brent said. “In addition to Daniel and me, Andy has two boys of his own and two stepsons who are just getting old enough to become serious hunters. Occasionally, Andy will invite a friend to hunt with us, but usually it’s just the two of us and the boys. We’ve passed up a lot of bucks during the last few years. Since 1995 when Andy shot his trophy 10-pointer, only four bucks have been taken off the property.”
Brent had placed his 14-foot tower stand in a strategic location near the edge of a long, narrow food plot which stretched for about 100 yards just to his right. A creek drainage and swamp lay directly behind him. In fact, this is where he had located the red-hot scrape-lines the weekend before. Directly in front of Brent’s tower stood a thick stand of planted pines encompassing about 70 acres, split by a road. The ground on which the pines grew had formerly been an open field where, as typical teenagers in high school, Brent and Andy had once been horsing around at night in a dune buggy.
“We pulled up in the field and there was a giant 12-pointer standing there that had to be close to Boone and Crockett size,” Brent remembers. “Later on, Andy found his sheds. They had a lot more mass than the rack of my buck, and we always knew that the genes for producing a real monster buck were present.”
Now, as the last deer season of the 20th Century was approaching peak rutting dates in mid-November, the thick forest of planted pines in front of Brent’s tower stand was a known traveling corridor for several big bucks — possibly even some of the descendants of that big 12-pointer he and Andy had seen so many years earlier. Daniel’s stand was located some 250 yards through the pines on the edge of another creek draining just to Brent’s left.
The afternoon of November 11 was clear and cool with no breeze.
“It was one of those still afternoons where you could hear everything in the woods,” Brent remembers. “You could just about hear your own heart beating.”
After getting settled in his stand shortly after 4 p.m., Brent decided to grunt lightly on his grunt tube. “It’s something I always do,” he said. “I grunted softly two times and waited.”
Almost immediately, Brent heard several deer moving around in the springhead behind him. He heard a low grunt, and he heard what sounded like several deer running through the leaves.
“It sounded like one or more bucks might be chasing a doe back in there,” Brent remembers.
Brent expected the deer to come out in the food plot to his right, but they never showed themselves. After
they never showed themselves. After waiting for more than 15 minutes, Brent watched as six turkeys walked out into the food plot and began feeding.
“Every once in a while, they would nervously look back into the woods in the direction of where the deer had been running,” Brent says. “I decided to grunt again. When I did, the deer back in the thicket started running around again. The turkeys got nervous and went back into the woods. I just knew a buck was going to step out into the food plot, so I got ready to shoot, but nothing happened.”
Brent waited another 15 minutes. Then he grunted again. He could still hear the deer back in the woods, but they never showed themselves.
“After a few more minutes, I sat back and just happened to look out into the planted pines to my left,” Brent recalls. “I caught a little glimpse of movement, and immediately saw a set of horns. It was a good buck walking through the pines about 100 yards away. He was definitely coming my way and he appeared to be looking for the source of the grunting. He was actually about midway between my stand and Daniel’s stand, and if he had only been a few feet closer to Daniel’s side, I’m sure Daniel would have seen him and gotten a shot. But Daniel never saw him, and the buck never knew Daniel was there. He stopped at least three times. Although I could see him, I couldn’t get a shot while he was walking through the woods.”
Brent knew that his only shot would be in the narrow woods road that divided the planted pines.
“He stopped again when he reached the edge of the road,” Brent said. “Then he stepped out into the middle and started looking down the road away from me. I already had my scope on his shoulder. The second he stopped, I squeezed the trigger.”
Brent was shooting his favorite rifle, a Ruger M77 26/.06 topped with a Leupold scope. He later paced off the distance of the shot at 76 steps. The shot had been fired at 5:43 p.m.
“He ran exactly 77 paces before piling up on the ground,” Brent said. “I never lost sight of him. He piled up right in front of the food plot. I knew he had good tine length, and I knew he was a shooter, but I had no idea he was as big as he was until I reached him.”
After checking over his trophy, an excited Brent immediately walked over to get Daniel. “You’re not gonna believe it,” Brent told his son. “I just shot a real monster!”
“I know,” Daniel said. “Your shot sounded so close it almost knocked me out of my stand!”
Brent had no idea his buck would score in the high 170s, much less go down as the largest buck taken in Georgia during the last season of the century. He did know that he had just shot an outstanding trophy, however, and he wanted to make sure that everyone knew his trophy had been taken legally. After showing the buck to Ted Robinson, who lives across the road from the farm, he and Daniel drove into Ellaville to look for the local ranger.
“We actually found two game wardens that night,” Brent remembers. “John Harkins and Rod Brimm both happened to be at the Ellaville Sheriff’s Office. I wanted to show them the deer and make sure that no ugly rumors got started.”
The buck was later taken to a cooler owned by fellow deer hunter David Brock, where it could be locked up for the night. David and some of his companions green-scored the huge rack.
“On Friday morning, when I went to pick him up, one of the hunters with David told me that my buck grossed right at 190 Boone & Crockett points,” Brent said. “That was the first inkling I had that my buck might be a record.”
Brent took his buck to Buena Vista taxidermist Ken Darville to be caped out. The following Monday morning, he took the rack to DNR biologist Steve Ruckel in Albany. Steve, an official Boone & Crockett measurer, green-scored the main-framed 5×5 rack with a 2-inch sticker at 178 6/8 typical B&C points. Exactly 61 days later, Steve officially re-scored the massive rack at 178 5/8 points. Had it not been for an inch or more that was missing from both the tip of the right main beam and the tip of the left G-3 tine (both tines were broken off on the ends), Brent’s amazing buck would easily have netted over 180 B&C points.
“I’m certainly not complaining!” Brent said.
Brent’s trophy weighed-in at 230 pounds (live weight). The big whitetail was believed to have been 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 years old. Less than two weeks after Brent’s record buck was taken, Daniel killed a nice 8-pointer not far from his dad’s stand.
With seven Boone & Crockett bucks to its credit, Macon County now leads the state as Georgia’s all-time producer of record-book whitetails. Looking back, it seems quite fitting that Georgia’s biggest buck of ’99 and the last B&C buck to fall during the 20th Century would hail from Macon County!
Macon County All-time Deer Records
|1||222 4/8 (NT)||Benny Overholt||2021||Macon||Bow||View|
|2||178 5/8||Brent McCarty||1999||Macon||Gun||View|
|3||177 5/8||Bill Athon||1976||Macon||Gun|
|4||177 5/8||Harold Cannon||1977||Macon||Gun||View|
|5||176 2/8||Mike Wilson||1981||Macon||Gun|
|6||175 4/8||Charles Haynie||1987||Macon||Gun||View|
|7||196 7/8 (NT)||Major Beard||1971||Macon||Gun|
|8||195 1/8 (NT)||Wesley Jones||1986||Macon||Gun|
|9||167 7/8||Matt Massee||2001||Macon||Gun|
|10||192 4/8 (NT)||Emily McDaniel||1995||Macon||Gun||View|
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