Craig Walker’s Telfair County Record-Book Buck
The week before Paul Smith took the best Georgia buck of the 1993-94 season in Dodge County, Craig Walker, of McRae, was hunting a private lease in Telfair County, Dodge’s neighboring county to the east. Actually, Craig had decided to combine a quick scouting and hunting trip before work on the day prior to Thanksgiving. Earlier in the season, he had located an area that he believed, judging from the size and intensity of the numerous rubs and scrapes, was being used by a very large buck. Craig was still in the process of figuring out the buck’s major routes of movement and, on this particular morning, had planned to check a couple of sites where he might hunt during the holidays.
Craig was fairly certain the buck’s primary bedding area was an impenetrable thicket of brush, briars, vines, and young trees growing in a shallow drain below a pond dam. One side of the thicket was literally torn up with scrapes and rubbed saplings. Well-used trails exited both sides of the dense undergrowth, leading to agricultural fields in one direction and a creek bottom in the other.
Making sure the early morning breeze was in his face, Craig slowly made a wide arc between the fields and creek bottom, checking trails for recent activity as he moved along. He had just about completed his route and was checking a deer trail that crossed from a recent timber cut into a 10-acre block of pines. Glancing along the trail that entered the clearcut, Craig suddenly froze in his tracks. Eighty yards away, standing in the open clearcut and staring straight at him, was a huge buck.
Slowly easing the rifle up to his shoulder, he looked at the buck through the scope. Craig would, by any definition, be classed as a veteran hunter and has taken several very good whitetails, but what he saw at that moment in the rifle scope made him wonder if his eyes were playing tricks on him. Using the space between the buck’s ear tips, which normally approximates 15 inches, as a frame of reference to gauge the rack, Craig was shocked to see that the antler beams extended out at least 4 inches on each side.
Although the buck was clearly visible, the branches of several water oak saplings at the edge of the clearcut were in Craig’s line of fire. Fully expecting the deer to run at any second, Craig’s only option was to partially bend down and aim through the narrow opening of the deer trail. As soon as the crosshairs settled on the buck’s shoulder, he squeezed the trigger.
The .270 130-grain bullet dropped the big whitetail nearly in its tracks. The buck fell on its side with approximately half of the rack visible above the grass.
“I remember seeing the rack sticking up in the air and then noticing the grass was well above my boot tops,’ Craig said. “I thought to myself that the deer must have fallen against a root or a stump, but when I got to where the buck was lying, the antlers were touching the ground. I think that is when it really hit me that the buck was something special.”
Special, can, in all probability, be translated into a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail. The 6X5 typical rack has an awesome spread of 20 2/8 inches, inside, and 22 4/8 inches, outside. The main beams average 27 inches and there are four tines that measure between 10 4/8 and 9 1/8 inches.
Despite there being an unmatched point on the left beam, the rack is very symmetrical with differences between the right and left antlers totaling only 6 5/8. Deducted from a gross score of 178 3/8, the final figure is a very impressive 171 6/8 typical B&C points, qualifying the buck for the all-time record book.
Craig’s whitetail is the first record book deer to come from Telfair and, although the county has produced other good bucks in prior years, including a 160-class typical taken in 1988 by Wendell Bullard, it would have to be considered a truly exceptional deer for that particular area.
There are, however, other factors involved with the taking of this great buck. For the past eight years, Craig and his hunting companions have been managing the approximate 3,000 acres of land they hunt by passing up on small-antlered bucks, while removing an adequate number of antlerless deer to maintain the population well within habitat limits. Since Craig’s buck was 5 1/2 years old, there is a good chance that at least once during previous seasons it was allowed to walk instead of being shot. As has often been stated, it is impossible to predict the quality of deer a given area will produce unless bucks are allowed to reach the mature age classes.
|1||249 5/8 (NT)||Billy Joe Padgett||1998||Telfair||Gun||View|
|2||171 6/8||Craig Walker||1993||Telfair||Gun||View|
|3||167 3/8||David Rawlins||1997||Telfair||Gun|
|4||164 6/8||Richard Cravey Jr.||2003||Telfair||Gun||View|
|5||160 2/8||Wendell Bullard||1988||Telfair||Gun|
|6||159 2/8||Rodney Pope||2000||Telfair||Gun|
|7||157 6/8||Jason Wright||2002||Telfair||Gun|
|8||154 5/8||Anthoney Durden||2004||Telfair||Gun|
|9||154 4/8||Wendell Bullard||1987||Telfair||Found|
|10||147 6/8||Jay Towns||2004||Telfair||Gun|
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