Story Of Georgia’s No. 1 Typical Bow-Buck

Duncan Dobie | June 27, 2023

Almost five years after it was killed, GON has the story of Georgia’s best-ever typical buck taken with a bow. The perfect 5×5 DeKalb County 10-pointer killed by Manny Kaloyannides during the 2018 season netted 177 1/8.

In late October of 2018, Manny Kaloyannides had a long way to go and a short time to get there in his quest for one of the greatest bucks to ever walk the earth in DeKalb County.

In the end, Manny’s strong faith and determination, not to mention an agonizing decision that had to be made, gave him the edge he needed to get one fleeting chance at this buck of many lifetimes. And to his utter surprise, the huge suburban buck he had set his sights on fooled everyone who had seen pictures of it. It ended up scoring much higher than anyone guessed and become a new state-record typical by bow. Judging by the adversities he faced, Manny truly earned this buck in every sense of the word.

A Born Deer Hunter

“My love for God’s great outdoors began at the early age of eight years old,” said Manny, who lives in Peachtree Corners. “My uncle took me to a 300-acre tract of land in Greene County early one freezing morning on a doe day.”

Manny saw three does on that frigid morning, and despite the toe-numbing cold that he endured, he was hooked. Several years later, he shot his first antlered buck with a .30-30 while hunting in Monroe County. Manny was then 12—his first buck had 13 points.

Since those early days, Manny has been blessed with many outstanding trophy whitetails.

“I was fortunate to have learned from the best wildlife managers in south Texas while guiding for free-ranging deer on a large ranch for several years,” he says. “The knowledge these gentlemen possessed was mind blowing.”

Manny was like a sponge, and his Texas mentors taught him volumes about deer behavior, nutrition, genetics, age class, judging bucks on the hoof, scoring antlers and many other elements of hunting mature deer.

“I harvested my first 154-inch, 10-pointer in 1994. Big deer were harder to come by than they are today, trust me. To me that was an absolute ‘giant.’ The word back then was ‘until you have a wall full of 150s, don’t pass them up,’ and I didn’t.”

Over the years, Manny has hunted on leased land in over a dozen Georgia counties. As family and business obligations made more demands on his time, he longed to find something closer to home. With the help of a little serendipity, his prayers were answered. Driving in Fulton County near the Chattahoochee River one day, a large, record-class buck crossed the road in front of him. That same buck was later taken by avid bowhunter Kendall Golightly of Seek One Productions. Previously Kendall had already arrowed several other metro giants. After that revelation, Manny began to refocus all his energy on hunting mature “backyard” bucks.

Having grown up in Stone Mountain where he attended Redan High School, Manny had plenty of good contacts for finding close-in bowhunting land. His first season produced a 146-inch, 9-pointer. That really fired him up.

“Gaining permission is the hardest part of suburban hunting,” Manny says. “When I say ‘suburban,’ most of the areas I hunt are anywhere from 3 to 5 acres to much larger tracts. It’s very helpful if the smaller tracts back up to larger tracts. I like to hunt near the DeKalb-Henry and DeKalb-Rockdale county lines. Since rifles are legal in Henry and Rockdale counties, once the season opens, I tend to see mature bucks that I’ve never seen previously.”

Mini-Mountains To Climb In 2018

As the 2018 hunting season drew near, Manny was faced with more than his fair share of difficult challenges that affected his hunting. Because of the demands of his business, and the fact that his two daughters, Ashley and Olivia, were participating in competitive ice skating around the country with aspirations of making the U.S. Olympic team, Manny was only home for three or four days every two to three weeks. To make matters worse, those special areas where he was consistently seeing 150-class bucks and larger were being heavily trespassed. Several large bucks he had on trail cameras were killed by poachers.

“This left me with no suitable buck to hunt,” Manny said. “Then, in early October, as I was glassing a power-line on some government land late one evening, a truck pulled up beside me. The gentleman in the truck, also a bowhunter, told me that he had seen the largest buck of his life the previous year in that very spot. I asked how big, and he cradled his hands over his head and curled them in. Of course, I didn’t believe him.”

Nonetheless, Manny consulted his Spartan Forge hunting app (he swears by this app), and he could see that several tracts of privately owned land backed up to the off-limits government land. The next day Manny received permission to hunt from a homeowner whose lot was only a half acre in size. He explained what he was doing, and the lady of the house told Manny that she had seen two large bucks just across her fence line on the adjacent property. Since 2018 was the first year that baiting was allowed in north Georgia, Manny set up a camera in the back of this lady’s lot and slung out some corn. Lo and behold, he got a picture of a huge buck two days later.

With like little time to hunt and constant issues with tresspassers, trail-camera photos kept Manny Kaloyannides inspired to hunt the monster buck.

“Even though the picture was not real good, I decided to target this buck,” Manny said. “I got permission from two other adjoining landowners behind the fence whose tracts totaled about 40 acres. These two tracts backed up to hundreds of acres of private land. I set up several more cameras and got more photos of the buck. I forwarded them to friends, and no one thought the deer was as large as he actually turned out to be. Lee Ellis of the Seek One crew and I both thought the deer might score in the 160s. Drew Carroll’s guess of 170 was a little higher and the closest of all.”

As mentioned, Manny’s travel schedule that fall was hectic.

“To harvest this buck, I had to let my cameras hunt for me,” he said. “I took six cameras, five of which were cell cameras, and put them on every path leading toward what I thought was a natural funnel to try and determine the travel pattern of this buck. I quickly realized that he was staying in this area from one day to three days at a time and then he would vanish for several days.”

By now, it was late October and Manny’s tight schedule gave him a narrow four-day window that he could devote to hunting this buck. After that, he would be out of town for weeks. If he couldn’t connect during those four days, he knew a poacher’s arrow might well end the life of this incredible buck. During the previous weeks, he had been able to pattern the local deer somewhat, and on days when he knew the buck had left the area, he discreetly combed the woods for feeding and bedding areas.

“Although I had corn out in one area, these deer were hammering the white oaks, and my buck rarely came to the corn. However, I did get pictures of him throughout the hardwoods where I had other cameras set.”

Manny knew he had his work cut out for him, but the problems he faced dealing with trespassers and poachers made things even more difficult. No one else had permission to hunt on this land.

“At one point, I removed six stands placed by trespassers within the 40-acre tract I was hunting,” Manny said. “On one of them I left a note saying, ‘you’re trespassing’ and neatly placed his stand at the bottom of the tree for him to pick up. The guy had the nerve to put his stand in another tree 150 yards away! Can you believe it?”     

Despite the problem with trespassers, Manny hunted his buck for three consecutive evenings without seeing any sign of the deer. He saw several of the buck’s “running buddies,” including a large buck with a drop tine that he had captured on a trail cam, but “Mr. Big” never showed. The fourth day would be Manny’s last opportunity to hunt this deer. After that, he would be in Pennsylvania for two weeks while Ashley and Olivia competed in high-level figure-skating competitions.

“That morning, the wind changed,” Manny said. “I contemplated not hunting at all because I felt that my set was all wrong. But then I got a picture of him at 9:30 a.m. crossing a trail. That changed everything. I was in meetings for most of the morning but decided I had to hunt him even if the wind was wrong. Despite the risk of blowing all the deer out of the area, I decided I had to put up another stand where the wind would be more favorable. I left my last meeting of the day about 1:30 p.m. I flew to a spot where I had a Summit climbing stand set up in the woods. I tore off my business suit, threw on some camo, and literally ran in the woods and grabbed the Summit. I ran back to my truck, drove like a madman to my new spot and jumped out. I sprayed down good. I knew the local deer were bedded less than 150 yards from where I would be walking in—some, maybe less than 100 yards—and I knew I had to sneak in there without spooking them.”

Would Manny live to regret changing stand locations? As mentioned, most of the deer in the area were feeding on white oak acorns late in the afternoon, so he planned to set up at the bottom of a hill near some of those oaks.

“By now I was sweating like crazy. I put the stand on my back and spent the next 45 minutes going 75 yards, one slow step at a time. I picked a good tree at the bottom of the hill, and started inching up. By 3:15 p.m., I was pulling my bow up when I saw the first doe coming down the hill. The wind was in my face and there was a house right behind me. Soon the parade of usual deer began to filter in: five does, the 140-plus-inch 8-pointer that was my buck’s running mate, the 9-pointer that always ran with a small 6, and another basket 8. Even though my buck was nowhere to be seen, I knew he had to be close by.

“That evening was magical. The bucks were sparring, making scrapes and rubbing trees. Thirty minutes later I looked up the hill, 75 yards away. There he was standing like a king, head up, broad-shouldered with the sun making his antlers glow. It was truly spectacular. For 15 minutes he stood there without moving a muscle. This may sound like an exaggeration but it’s true!”

It took nearly 35 minutes before the buck slowly began to make his way down the hill toward the other deer.

“Suddenly my arrow was jumping in the rest because I was shaking uncontrollably. At this point, there was no way I could shoot the deer. I closed my eyes and began to pray: ‘Lord calm my nerves and let me gain composure.’  For the next 30 minutes, I had the best of hunt of my life.

“He stopped twice to paw the ground. He made a huge scrape. Then he snort-wheezed and grunted. Never in all my encounters with mature bucks had I ever heard such a terrifying noise. He was within 30 yards but I couldn’t get a shot. About that time the 8-pointer bristled up. They started fighting. They actually locked horns 20 yards from my tree. The big deer spun the 8-pointer around and gored his rear end.” 

The two bucks finally stopped fighting. By then, Manny’s buck was 12 yards out. Without warning, Manny felt the wind on the back of his neck.

“The buck threw his nose up in the air, started bobbing his head and looked directly up in my tree. I just knew my scent was blowing directly into his nose. Thank goodness there was a smaller tree in front of me and he couldn’t see me.”

This same tree had prevented Manny from getting a 20-yard shot.

“Then he walked right over to my tree. Fifteen yards, no shot; 10 yards, no shot; 5 yards and now he is directly under my tree sniffing the bark. I was looking straight down at him. All I could see was a huge, wide rack and a massive body.”

After a few tense moments, the buck turned and walked out to Manny’s right. He stopped about 12 yards away in front of a community scrape. Then, quite unexpectedly, he reared up on his hind legs and started rubbing his eye glands on a limb. Manny knew it was now or never. The moment the buck planted all four feet firmly back on the ground Manny let his arrow fly. The monarch of the woods ran about 40 yards and collapsed.

“Only by the grace of God did I shoot that buck,” Manny said. “He weighed 260 pounds (live)  and grossed nearly 184 inches. He was a perfect 5×5, and he had a 21-inch inside spread. He netted 177 1/8. We estimated him to be 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 years old. Because of his extremely large body size, we had all underestimated the size of his antlers.”

The evening when Manny arrowed Georgia’s best typical-racked buck ever was taken on his last hunt before being out of town for more than two weeks.

Hazard Of Suburban Hunting

For Manny, the drama of the day was far from over. Manny was within sight of a residence when he shot his buck. He now found it necessary to knock on the door and ask permission to drag his buck out through the landowner’s backyard. Somewhat skeptical, the landowner insisted on calling the police. Manny told her, “That’s fine. Everything I’m doing is perfectly legal.”

As soon as the two police officers arrived, Manny realized they didn’t know anything about a legal archery season for deer being open in Dekalb County. Knowing the local game warden Eric Sanders could resolve the matter, Manny asked them to call him. They soon learned that Eric was on another call and it would probably be several hours before he could get there. The two officers talked back and forth to their supervisors, and one of them told Manny, “We’ve been told to detain you.” Manny was then handcuffed and placed in the back of the car like a common criminal. He remained there for the next hour and a half. Apparently the two officers’ superiors were equally as ignorant about a legal archery deer season being open in DeKalb County.    

Finally, the game warden showed up. By then, the two officers were ready to take Manny to jail. Eric told them, “Wait a minute—everything this man has done is perfectly legal.” He checked Manny’s license and assured the two officers that Manny had every right to be there and every right to get his deer out of the woods. They were unapologetic. One of them said, “You go get your deer but don’t you ever come back here.”

Again, Eric Sanders came to Manny’s defense. “This man can come back here any time he wants as long as he has permission to hunt from the landowners,” he informed the two officers.

“It was nearly 11 p.m. by the time I got my deer out of the woods,” Manny said.

The two DeKalb County police officers should have been reprimanded for what they did to Manny, but he never filed any complaints. It’s ironic that all through the 2018 season he was forced to deal with poachers and trespassers who were never brought to justice by the law. Yet after dotting every legal eye “i” and crossing every “t” in his quest for the buck of a lifetime, he ended up in handcuffs and came very close to being carted off to jail.

“The Lord, my wife and daughters are the most important things in my life,” Manny says. “And next comes my deer hunting. I dedicate this amazing hunt to His glory!”

Manny with his state-record typical bow-buck alongside Jay Maxwell and his Fulton County non-typical bow-buck that netted 213 2/8.

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