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Georgia Counties Ranked For Big Bucks 2018

GON system uses scoring data to rate every Georgia county for big-buck production.

Daryl Kirby | October 8, 2018

How does Fulton County produce two Fab 40 bucks last season, yet still see one of the sharpest drops in big-buck production of any county in the state? Fulton County fell from the No. 4 county in the state last year with a score of 153 down to No. 6 with a score of 116 this year.

Is Fulton County on the decline? The answer is absolutely not. Fulton is elite—not just in Georgia but in the country—in its ability to produce incredible bucks. However, Fulton had been riding a score for the past 10 years buoyed by a remarkable 2007 season. That 2007 season in Fulton produced a state-record non-typical bow-buck, three bucks that netted in the 150s, plus several more 140-class bucks.

All of those 2007 bucks dropped out of the big-buck production equation this year. Our system comes up with a value based on official net scores of bucks killed in a 10-year window. A county’s big-buck score will drop from one year to the next if there are more bucks from 11 years ago falling out of the equation than new bucks being added in the past year.

For the seventh year in a row, Worth County is the No. 1 county in Georgia for producing high-scoring bucks. Worth’s big-buck production score of 218 is remarkable. Consider this… 10 new Booners would have to be killed in Georgia’s No. 5 county for that county to have chance at catching up with Worth.

Worth County held its lock as the top big-buck county in Georgia. Last season Worth County produced this 15-point buck that netted 165 2/8 non-typical for Jeff McKinney.

Our system factors the size of a county into the equation, so don’t think that Worth County has a remarkable score simply because it’s so much larger than other counties. First we get the raw score based on officially scored bucks in the past 10 years. Then a county’s raw score indexes up or down based on the county’s size in comparison to the mean size, or average, of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Macon County, which was No. 1 for many years before Worth overtook it, dropped back to No. 4 this year after being in the second spot last season. Lee County is back at No. 2, and Dougherty County secured the No. 3 spot.

Also noteworthy again this year is the Piedmont Triangle of Morgan, Jasper and Putnam counties. Morgan has been a Top-10 county for more than a decade, and now Jasper and Putnam have joined Morgan to form a pocket of red on our map that has now held for several years in a row.

That pocket of red and other groupings of colors also demonstrates how well GON’s buck-production formula works. Adjacent counties and regions of the state have similar scores and typically trend together from year to year.

Most Georgia deer hunters interested in big bucks know the formula for growing them. A buck needs quality dirt, which naturally provides good nutrition, it needs genetic potential, and the deer needs age. The swatch of middle to south Georgia that is home to many of Georgia’s top big-buck counties is home to the state’s most rich, fertile farmlands. Those fertile soils produce excellent natural foods and top-notch agricultural fields. Compare that to the sandy soils of southeast Georgia dominated by pine plantations or the rocky, less fertile dirt in the mountains—counties that don’t have a history of producing very many big bucks.

Age, nutrition and genetics are all important, but I believe age is the No. 1 factor for growing high-scoring bucks. Fulton County has ribbons and pockets of deer habitat, much of which isn’t hunted, and bucks have a better chance there of hitting that magic 5 1/2 and older age group when racks can explode with growth. The agricultural belt of south Georgia is dominated by large tracts with little pressure. The other pockets of red on our map are counties where there are at least several large tracts intensively for big bucks, a culture that spreads to other landowners in those counties and areas.

Hunting clubs with small acreages and lots of hunters don’t produce many high-scoring bucks. A 2 1/2-year-old buck on a high-member club is going to be seen by a lot of hunters.

If you kill a good buck this season, contact GON as soon as possible. Call (800) 438-4663, or e-mail [email protected]

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