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Lesson From Big Bow-Buck – Hunt When You Can

The story of Brian Whitney's Fulton County buck is a reminder that rather than wait until everything is perfect, sometimes it's just best to hunt when you can.

Mike Bolton | November 4, 2021

Forget the solar and lunar charts. Most deer hunters will tell you that the best time to go deer hunting is whenever you can go.

Having a 2-month-old baby and a full-load at work has put a crimp in Brian Whitney’s hunting this year. So, when the Smyrna resident got a rare chance to go on Oct. 22, he jumped at the chance. He wasn’t worried that it was going to be an abbreviated hunt.

Brian Whitney with his Fulton County suburban bow-buck.

“You really need a northwest wind to hunt this place and the temperature was dropping with a northwest wind, so I thought I’d go even though I couldn’t get out there for a little while that afternoon,” Brian said.

In that short time he saw numerous deer, including the one he was after. He took the 10-point buck that was a main-frame 8-point with two kickers an hour before dark. It rough-scored 144 1/8 inches.

Brian is a growing legion of what is being known as suburban deer bowhunters. They look for small pockets of woods where deer are being forced by growing urbanization. The property where he was hunting was a 10-acre patch of woods near a subdivision.

“I’ve had this deer on camera for four years,” he said. “The first time I had him on camera was when he was 2, and he had a small basket rack with long brow tines,” he said. “I thought then he might be a good buck by the time he got to be 5 1/2.

“He got bigger every year until last year when he completely disappeared. There’s a lot of hunting pressure around, so I figured he might be dead. Then somebody sent me a picture that was taken a couple miles away that I thought might be him. I was hoping he might have the opportunity to come back to my property.”

Brian said he hoped the buck might return because bucks in the suburban Atlanta area are known for traveling great distances, especially during the rut.

On Oct. 22, Brian was bowhunting when deer began pouring in on the small tract of land to eat acorns.

“I could hear a deer behind me making a scrape, but I couldn’t see him for all the brush,” he said. “When I finally saw him, he was walking toward me at 30 yards away, and I could see that he had a pretty good rack. As he got closer, I could see the tall brow tines, and I knew it was him. I shot, and he only ran about 80 yards.”

Brian posted a picture of the buck on social media and got a surprise. 

“A guy sent me a picture of the same buck and the picture was taken 3 miles away from where I shot him,” he said. “That’s pretty crazy.” 

Fulton County Best Bow-Bucks Of All-Time

Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo
1 213 4/8 (NT) Jay Maxwell 2007 Fulton Bow View 
2 170 2/8 Dylan Wylie 2018 Fulton Bow View 
3 193 7/8 (NT) Lee Ellis 2017 Fulton Bow View 
4 167 1/8 Bob Coombs 2020 Fulton Bow View 
5 166 1/8 Lee Ellis 2014 Fulton Bow View 
6 162 5/8 Kendall Golightly 2011 Fulton Bow View 
7 157 5/8 Tyler Brown 2021 Fulton Bow View 
8 179 2/8 (NT) William Hudson 2002 Fulton Bow View 
9 156 2/8 Brannan Southerland 2016 Fulton Bow View 
10 156 1/8 Bob Coombs 2019 Fulton Bow View 

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