Fab 40 Bucks Of 2004-05

GON looks back at Georgia's best bucks of the the past season.

Daryl Kirby | August 7, 2005

After watching the 120-class, 8-point buck feed on peas for 20 minutes just 30 yards away, Phil Webb now had a sinking feeling as he watched the buck slowly walk directly away and out of the food plot.

“That would have been my second-biggest buck ever. I had the safety on and off several times,” Phil said.

But he had driven all the way from Pontotoc, Miss., and this was the first morning of Philʼs hunt at Magnolia Plantation in Dougherty County, a 12,000-acre wildlife haven where wild quail and the men and women who hunt them are treated like royalty. The property contains the northern edge and feeder creeks of the Chickasawhatchee Swamp. Magnolia has some very good bucks, and Phil knew it.

He was hunting along with a good friend and former college baseball teammate, Stacey Hathcock, of Cordele.

“Stacey knows the plantation manager, Mr. Frank, and it was a personal invite. The year before another friend of ours killed a big 10-point hunting over there with Stacey. I saw pictures, and I knew what I was looking for, but still, I hadnʼt killed many big deer,” Phil said. “My biggest, I actually killed last year on opening day in Mississippi, a 9-pointer that scored 122.

“After that buck walked off, I sat there for the next hour, sulking, mad at myself for not shooting. Some turkeys came out there, and Iʼm a big turkey hunter, so watching them I was feeling much better, just enjoying the morning,” he said.

Phil Webb’s Dougherty County buck from the 2004 season netted 169 4/8.

Phil was in a shooting house overlooking a 150-yard long food plot of peas. To his left was a big area of sage grass and thickets with strips mowed through it — a quail-hunting area — and just beyond that was a slough.

“At about 9, I heard water splashing. My first thought was that it was a hog. I looked and saw something moving, and I saw it was a deer coming out of the slough. It was a really good buck, and he was moving pretty fast.”

By the time Phil got his scope on the buck, it had stopped in a mowed road. The 84-yard shot connected, and the buck staggered about 40 yards and went down.

“I kept the crosshairs on him for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t my gosh, what have I done?ʼ

“I walked up to him and saw the rack — there are probably still two big knee prints where I hit the ground,” Phil said.

The buck netted 169 4/8 inches, just a half-inch from the typical minimum for Boone & Crockett. Philʼs was the No. 3 buck in Georgia last season, and it is the No. 2 buck of all-time from Dougherty County.

The general reaction from Georgia deer hunters last season wasn’t overly positive. Most folks weren’t seeing as many deer as they were used to or would like to see. WRD hasn’t provided harvest estimates yet, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if last season was a down year for overall harvest.

What about big bucks? Did too many acorns, warm weather during November, more doe days and higher limits — all things cited by hunters who were disappointed last season — conspire for a bad season on Georgiaʼs high-end, trophy bucks?

Based on GONʼs substantial record-keeping data base, only one season in the past seven was as good a year for big-buck production in Georgia. The 2004-05 season might have been poor for overall harvest, but for big bucks it was better than the 10-year average.

Consider the numbers of how last season compares to others within the past 10 years. Two Boone & Crocketts killed last year — while tied with four other seasons, only one season in the past 10 years has produced more (three B&C bucks were recorded in 1997). Last season Georgia had seven bucks that netted better than 160 typical, topped by only three seasons in the past 10 and above the 10-year average of 6.3 bucks that score better than 160. And probably the best indicator of how good a season was for good bucks is how many top the 150 mark. Last season Georgia produced 25, third best in the past 10 years and ahead of the 10-year average of 22.2.

The No. 1 buck last season was a Dooly County giant typical that netted 180 4/8. The buck was killed by Tony Lewis of Cordele, and it won Week 10 of GONʼs Truck-Buck Contest. Tonyʼs full hunt story can be found on page 66. The buck ranks as the No. 7 score ever for a Georgia buck.

The Tony Lewis Buck: The Dooly County 12-pointer had a net score of 180 4/8. It ranks as the No. 1 buck of Georgiaʼs 2004-05 season and as the No. 7 typical-racked buck of all-time from Georgia.

The other Booner from last season could be considered a surprise — a 177 4/8 net-score typical from Marion County, the first record-book buck ever from that county. The 13-pointer was killed January 1, 2005 by Butch Moore of Richland on a longtime deer-dogging club. Look for the story of Butchʼs buck in next monthʼs GON.

A.M. Samples with his Putnam County buck that made the Fab 40 with a net score of 147 5/8.

The Fab 40 list from last season includes several interesting snapshots about Georgia deer hunting, and in particular about where and how big bucks get killed in Georgia.

  • The Big Buck Line? The Southern Zone accounted for 28 of the Fab 40 bucks killed last season. Of the 12 taken in the Northern Zone, five were taken in metro Atlanta counties and none farther north than suburban Gwinnett County. Meanwhile, a cluster of counties in the agriculture belt of southwest Georgia, a 12-county swath west of I-75 from Macon County south to Brooks County, produced 19 Fab 40 bucks.
  • The GON Truck-Buck Contest Factor: The Fab 40 list includes 18 GON subscribers who were entered in Truck-Buck. Fifteen of them will be in the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out finals competing for a new truck and four-wheeler in Perry later this month.
  • Only Two Youths? Weʼre awfully proud of the two youngsters who made the Fab 40 — Samantha Linhart, 15 when she killed a Worth County buck that netted 150 3/8, and Adam Stanfill, 13 when he killed a Colquitt County buck that netted 150 even. But weʼre also hoping more moms and dads will put the kids in the stands when the big bucks are right and ready. Speaking of mom, where was she last season? The only female on the Fab 40 list was Samantha.

    Morgan County produced this beautiful buck during the 2004 season for James Stanford. The net score was 161 3/8.

  • Dooly County Dominance: Two seasons ago it was a huge surprise when Hancock County produced the No. 1 and No. 2 bucks on the Fab 40 list. Dooly County, long regarded as one of Georgiaʼs Top-3 big-buck counties, knocking down the No. 1 and No. 4 slots last season couldnʼt be called a surprise. But the county had been slipping a bit in its Big-Buck Production score (see the October issue of GON for this yearʼs rankings of every Georgia county). Look for Dooly to close the gap on second-place Macon County and No. 1 Lee County.
  • Reach Out and Touch ʼEm: Folks hunting with guns killed 34 of the Fab 40 bucks. But you can bet that the six hunters who weren’t using a modern firearm when they shot their Fab 40 buck will appear in some other prestigious lists — like the Pope & Young record book or GONʼs special rankings for bows, crossbows, and muzzleloaders. Bowhunters accounted for three Fab 40 bucks, all tremendous bow-bucks that score better than 150 net. Crossbow hunters had two bucks in the top 40, including the new state record, while there was one muzzleloader buck.
  • That New No. 1 Crossbow Buck: Chase Haydel of Conyers set the new state-record for a crossbow buck when he sent a bolt that connected on a Rockdale County 13-pointer last December 11. The buckʼs net score of 156 3/8 topped the previous record of 154 5/8, a Fulton County buck killed two seasons ago.

Potential Fab 40 Buck in Your Sights This Season? If you kill a really nice buck this year, one that will have a net typical score in the mid 140s and up, or a non-typical with 170 inches of antler, call GON at 1-800-438-4663, or email us at [email protected].

Try to get in touch with us quickly, before the buck is caped out.

Donʼt assume we’ve already heard about your buck. If you have a Fab-40 class buck, and a GON editor can shake loose, you might just be posing for a GON cover this fall.


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