Donald Duren’s Brooks County Booner
This 19-point buck, taken in 1970 but not scored for 32 years, has the longest beams ever recorded on a Georgia Boone & Crockett buck.
There seems to be one almost every year — a giant Georgia buck that has gone unrecognized for decades. The latest buck from the past is a 19-point non-typical from Brooks County that has 31-inch main beams.
The story of this buck goes back four decades. Donald Duren loved the outdoors and, in the 1960s, after he and his wife, Latrelle, moved from Coolidge to northern Brooks County, he quickly discovered that the new location provided a wealth of hunting and fishing opportunities. One of his favorite haunts, for both of these pursuits, was a nearby area known as the Little River bottoms.
He especially enjoyed fishing while wading the river’s sandbars, and whenever possible, he took along his young son, Pate, and daughter, Patti. Even though the family often took fishing trips to other places, such as Florida’s St. John’s River, the Little River area near his home remained Donald’s favorite.
Coincidentally, during this same period of time, Georgia’s Game & Fish Commission (forerunner of the current Department of Natural Resources) was involved with a long-term statewide deer-restoration project. Deer restocking was an integral part of this ongoing program, and one of these stocking sites happened to be the Little River drainage lying along the Brooks-Lowndes county line. Records show that several deer obtained from Wisconsin were released there during the early 1960s.
Not surprisingly, by the late 60s, Donald often encountered deer during his fishing or small-game hunting trips near the river. Most of the deer were does and fawns or young bucks, but on at least two occasions he spotted a giant whitetail with an enormous set of antlers. Like most Georgians at that time, the outdoorsman had little knowledge and no experience in regard to deer hunting. Nevertheless, getting a glimpse of the huge buck was an exciting experience and he anxiously looked forward to the time when he could pursue the deer with a gun.
That opportunity came in the fall of 1970 when Brooks County was opened to deer hunting. On a November afternoon, Donald was situated at the edge of a large grown-up clearing, a quarter of a mile from Little River, when shortly before dark, he saw an enormous buck walk out of the woods approximately 200 yards away. The combination of distance and late evening light made the shot opportunity extremely difficult, but when he pulled the trigger the big whitetail hit the ground.
Extremely excited and also afraid that the buck might get back up, Donald ran all the way across the clearing. However, the big deer was dead by the time the hunter reached its location. After taking a few moments to admire the huge buck, he left to get help.
Later that evening, with the help of a neighbor, Sammy Vickery, Donald attempted to weigh the giant deer. However, the scales quickly bottomed out at their capacity of 300 pounds. The men estimated that the deer probably weighed at least 40 to 50 pounds above that mark.
The buck was mounted and hung in Donald’s home, but nothing else was done in terms of documenting the size of the deer or its rack. However, it should be noted that at this particular time, Georgia deer hunting was in its infancy. As mentioned previously, the state was still involved with deer restoration efforts and hunters were still adapting and learning about this new game animal. Record books and antler measuring were simply unheard of. For a perspective, consider that another 13 years would go by before the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s first Buckarama.
GON’s Official Brooks County Deer Records
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 186 2/8 Roger Price 2018 Brooks Gun View 2 175 7/8 Joseph J. Freeman 1978 Brooks Gun 3 174 6/8 Donald Vinson 2011 Brooks Gun View 4 173 3/8 Michael Holland 2011 Brooks Gun View 5 172 2/8 Charles Mitchell III 2016 Brooks Gun View 6 195 2/8 (NT) Donald Duren 1970 Brooks Gun View 7 168 7/8 Mickey Tillman 2000 Brooks Gun 8 167 1/8 Roger Meeks Jr. 1991 Brooks Gun 9 165 4/8 Billy Joe Lovett 2012 Brooks Gun View 10 164 1/8 Justin Price 2009 Brooks Gun View
Many years later, Donald moved the mounted buck to a hardware store that he owned in Lake Park. It would be a gross understatement to say that the deer attracted a lot of attention, especially from out-of-state travelers on nearby Interstate 75. Several attempted to buy the mount, but Donald always declined their offers.
Tragically, within a short time between 1997 and 1998, both Donald and his son Pate were killed in separate vehicle accidents on Highway 133 in Brooks County.
The mounted deer was eventually moved to the Langdale Ford showroom in Valdosta, where Donald’s son-in-law Steve Everett was the general manager. There, Larry Fudge, a friend of Steve’s and a forester for Langdale Industries, saw the buck and inquired about its history; especially as to where it had been taken and by whom. After hearing Steve’s story, Larry, who happens to be an extremely avid whitetail enthusiast and hunter, explained the significance of the buck’s size in relation to where it had been taken. He also offered to make arrangements for the antlers to be officially measured and, if the family was interested, have the rack remounted.
Several months later, Steve called Larry and told him he had discussed the situation with his family and, at his convenience, he could come by and pick up the mount. Larry quickly made arrangements to have the antlers measured and the results confirmed his initial estimate of the buck’s size.
The rack has an awesome appearance in terms of width and overall size, which can easily be explained by the extraordinary beam measurements of 31 and 31 6/8 inches. Simply put, no other deer in Georgia’s records has main beams of this length. These hook outward to form an impressive antler spread of 24 2/8 inches outside and 21 5/8 inches inside.
The rack has a basic 6×6 typical frame, which matches up very well in side-to-side symmetry. Average tine length is the rack’s only weakness, and this may actually be a poor choice of words considering overall antler size. For example, the two longest tines tape 8 6/8 inches, while most bucks with racks of this class have tines in the 10- to 12-inch range.
After grossing a tremendous total of 185 4/8, slight asymmetry (side-to-side) deductions drop the typical score to 182 1/8. Although the rack has a basic typical growth pattern, there are also 13 1/8 inches of abnormal points present, which by adding to the total, gives the rack its best Boone & Crockett (B&C) score as a non-typical at 195 2/8.
In addition to qualifying for the Boone & Crockett record book, at this writing in 2002, Donald’s great 19-point whitetail also stands as the top non-typical buck ever taken in Brooks County, and it ranks as the third-biggest Georgia buck to come from a county along the Florida border.
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