Dawson Forest 14-Point Dandy Could Be WMA Record
“I was shocked, I had no idea he was that big. I just sat down for a while to soak in the moment.”
These were the thoughts of James Sorrow when he walked up on what could be the biggest buck ever taken on Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
James lives in Cumming and about 25 minutes way from the Dawson Forest WMA. He first started hunting there in 2015 and had not taken a deer there, although he has had encounters with two decent bucks and a bear. James did not hunt the early November hunt at Dawson this year because he was hunting in Kentucky. He has put in a lot of hours and miles scouting and hunting the area and knew it fairly well. James scouted the WMA again the weekend prior to the hunt. He had not deer hunted the particular tract he was going to hunt that morning, although he had scouted it and turkey hunted there.
“The main reason I hunted it was the funnel system. There were several finger ridges that came down to a point with a huge thicket on top,” James said. “I knew there was a buck in there because there were several sign post rubs, but I had no indication he was in there.”
On the morning of Nov. 30, the first day of the second firearms hunt, James parked his truck at 5:30 and walked the 400 yards to his stand location. He climbed up a tree in his Summit Viper climbing stand about halfway between the thicket and the bottom.
“I didn’t see anything until 8:45 when I spotted a doe on the finger ridge on my right. She busted out of the thicket and began milling around. But I kept seeing some movement up in the thicket,” James said.
The 33-year old hunter kept watching up that way for about 10 to 15 minutes.
“I knew there was another deer up there and finally he comes out and stands behind a blowdown about 80 yards away,” James said.
But when the buck came out, there were limbs obscuring him.
“I didn’t have binoculars, so I was looking at him through my rifle scope, and I saw that he had a pretty decent rack.”
The hunter could see only the front portion of his rack as the buck stared down toward the doe.
“Then he looked my direction, and I could see a wide frame and knew that he was a shooter. After three long minutes, I made the decision to shoot him in the neck,” James said.
Using his Browning X-Bolt .300 WSM and Leupold scopre, he rested his rifle on the upper rail of his stand and squeezed off the shot.
“It hit where I aimed, and he dropped immediately! The first thing I did was call my dad,” James said. “I told him that I just killed a really good buck, that I saw him drop.”
James climbed down and had to cross a draw to make his way up to the buck. As he approached, he saw the right side of the rack sticking up. He was stunned at how big the buck’s rack was.
“It was amazing, I got a tear in my eye and said a prayer and just sat down to soak in the moment,” he said.
James sat with the buck for 30 minutes taking it all in. Then he called a buddy in Alabama, Andrew. As they FaceTimed, Andrew told him that it looked like a 160-inch deer. Another friend exclaimed ‘man that’s a giant.’ James took some self-timer pictures and called some other friends looking for some help in dragging. None could come soon, so he began dragging solo. One guy arrived when he was 75 yards from the truck.
When James showed up at the check station around 1 p.m., the DNR workers were shocked. One worker told him that he may have the new Dawson Forest record buck and another stated that he had never seen anything that big in 20 years. According to GON’s Georgia Deer Records, the all-time Dawson Forest WMA record buck netted 149 5/8. It was killed in 2003 by Steve Crumley.
The buck that James killed is a main frame 10-pointer with two sticker points on each base. The inside spread is 19 3/8 inches and the beams are 23 4/8 and 24 6/8 inches. The longest tines are almost 11 inches long and the base circumference is 5 3/8 inches. James green scored him at a gross 170 5/8 inches, an incredible buck from a Georgia WMA! The buck was aged by DNR at 4 1/2 years old, and it weighed 155 pounds.
Editor’s Note Feb. 5, 2024: The Dawson Forest WMA buck killed by James Sorrow was measured by official Boone & Crockett scorer Matt Haun at 149 2/8 inches net after 13 4/8 inches in deductions due to four small kicker points and a broken G4. “He grew 170 1/8 inches of bone,” Matt said. It ranks second all-time for Dawson Forest WMA, only 3/8s of an inch behind Steve Crumley’s buck from 2003.
A buck like this obviously garners much attention and this one certainly did. There was much chatter and speculation about the buck. Some people even falsely alleged that it was killed elsewhere. When the word got out, James heard from several other hunters who had trail-camera pictures of the buck and were hunting it.
“They were nice about it,” James said of the hunters from an adjacent hunting lease. “They were glad that I had killed it and not some city slicker.”
Dawson Forest WMA All-Time Record Bucks
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 149 5/8 Steve Crumley 2003 Dawson Gun View 2 149 2/8 James Sorrow 2023 Dawson Gun View 3 140 6/8 Skye Perry 1989 Dawson Gun 4 136 3/8 Randy Moore 2010 Dawson Bow 5 131 7/8 Bruce Jackson 2018 Dawson Gun View 6 127 5/8 Tony Tarnacki 2011 Dawson Gun 7 143 (NT) Kathy Presley 2020 Dawson Gun View 8 119 3/8 Donnie Whitmire 1986 Dawson Gun 9 119 1/8 Josh Dean 2016 Dawson Gun 10 118 5/8 Bobby Brooks 2016 Dawson Bow View
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