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Giant Buck From The Atlanta Suburbs

For three years Bob Coombs hunted a buck that lived in the shadows of Roswell's neighborhoods and busy roads. On Thanksgiving morning, everything finally went right, and Georgia had a new crossbow record.

Bob Coombs | August 1, 2007

Bob Coombs with his amazing 182 0/8 non-typical 16-pointer killed in the suburbs of Roswell last season. The buck is the new state-record crossbow buck for Georgia.

It was the last day of the 2005-06 hunting season. I had all but given up on seeing a giant buck that I hunted for two seasons. That morning, my hunt was uneventful. I hadn’t seen a single deer, which really isn’t so unusual for this small patch of woods. The hunting was just hit or miss.

A stiff wind had blasted me all that morning. I was cold, and I was getting hungry. I decided to break for lunch. As I lowered my bow, a doe, closely followed by a fork-horned buck, skirted up the hillside. About 60 yards behind them appeared the giant buck. I tried to grab my camera and at the same time pull my bow up. I ended up with a bird’s nest of bow string, camera strap, grunt tubes and safety line. I watched the buck crest the hill and drop out of sight.

I waited another half hour and then got down to go to lunch. As I walked across the property, I noticed on the other side of the hill it wasn’t nearly as windy. In fact it was very calm and almost warm. I decided to move my stand, reasoning that the does would be more comfortable out of the stiff, cold wind. I spent the entire afternoon in the stand hoping that the last hours of the season would produce magic.

Soon it was dusk. I hadn’t seen another deer, the street lights along the road came on and then it was too dark to shoot. I packed up, started lowering my bow, and can you believe the doe and the 4-pointer were 15 yards from my stand? I stood there frozen, and then I heard the giant buck snapping a tree into pieces only 30 yards away, but I could barely see the wide, tall rack. Worse, the deer season was over!

Over the course of three years, I can’t begin to count the number of hours I’ve spent in a deer stand on a hardwood hillside in the city limits of Roswell, hoping to get a shot at a giant buck I called Brutus. The tract is only about 60 acres, and it’s basically one big hill with a creek that runs through the bottom of it. It’s just a wide spot of woods in a very narrow corridor, a sliver of deer habitat that goes for miles and miles and connects with other narrow bands of woods. Deer may come through my little spot, then not come back for months as they meander up and down the corridors.

The first time I saw Brutus was early in bow season of 2004. He was very wide, but all I saw was just a blur of antlers. I didn’t see him again until very late that season. The rut had died down, and a bachelor group of seven bucks got back together. The leaves were off the trees, and the bucks were about 80 yards away, so I got a very good look at Brutus. He was about a 160-class buck, and very wide with tall tines, but he didn’t have all the split tines that he would grow the next season. The smallest buck, a little forkhorn, put his antlers down like he wanted to challenge Brutus. The other bucks just watched. That was a really cool thing to see, and I saw Brutus really well. It was just awesome.

Prior to last deer season, I kicked my hunt for Brutus into high gear. I bought several stands, three deer cams and lots of other goodies. With the cameras I started watching deer grow their antlers, and even found that I had a piebald 5-pointer on the property. This was a new way of hunting for me. Interestingly enough, I captured no photos of the giant buck until October 13, 2006. The photo I did capture showed the buck’s antlers at an odd angle, and I didn’t even think that it was him at the time.

Two days after getting the picture, the giant buck rolled through about 60 yards from my stand. He went onto an adjacent property and ran the piebald buck past my stand. I grunted and bleated periodically, but the buck never returned.

On October 17, I was hunting that same stand, and I noticed movement about 100 yards away. It was the giant buck running does, and then I saw him fighting with some other bucks.

I had a stand very close to where the buck kept showing up, so the next morning I started hunting there. I put in more than 20 hunts, but I only saw a few animals. I was starting to get discouraged. I knew he didn’t live full-time on the property, and at this point I was convinced that not only was he not on the property, but almost all the deer were somewhere else. My trail cameras had taken some photos of domestic dogs, and I figured that maybe the dogs had run the deer off.

Then on November 15, I had a crazy encounter with the buck. I saw Brutus at about 3 p.m. He was about 100 yards away and not moving in my direction. I decided to move to a stand that was above him on the hillside. I circled around about 300 yards in a big arch. As soon as I got situated in the other stand, I saw a doe, and immediately behind her was the giant buck. She led the buck down into a dry creek bed, and I felt this would be a good opportunity to make a move to another stand that was closer to them. It was 4 p.m., and I had to move fast. When my feet hit the ground, I looked over my shoulder to see a woman, her daughter and three dogs cresting the hill about 30 yards away. I ducked and ran down the hill straight toward where I had spotted the doe with the buck on her tail. The trespassers and their pack of dogs kept coming toward me, and I didn’t want to have to run them off or even talk to them with the buck right there. I had to quickly move deeper into the woods. I hunkered down in a farkleberry cluster for about 10 minutes while they continued their nature hike.

I could see my ladder stand about 40 yards away. I decided to go for it. I took three steps, and four does trotted 10 yards in front of me and directly behind them at 15 yards was Brutus. The deer trotted right past me. I was in 3-D camo. I’m not sure, but I think the dogs spooked them back up past me. I don’t think they noticed me at all. I was wedged between two trees. I grabbed my grunt call, and I grunted a series of grunts. Immediately the four does ran up to about 15 yards from me. Brutus followed, but he held tight at 40 yards, scrutinizing the does’ behavior. He didn’t like the situation. He pitched away down the hill. The does slowly walked off, and I went on to my ladder stand.

Fulton County Best Bucks Of All-Time

RankScoreNameYearCountyMethodPhoto
1213 4/8 (NT)Jay Maxwell2007FultonBowView 
2172 3/8 Mike Gregory1986FultonGunView 
3170 2/8 Dylan Wylie2018FultonBowView 
4193 7/8 (NT)Lee Ellis2017FultonBowView 
5167 1/8 Bob Coombs2020FultonBowView 
6166 1/8 Lee Ellis2014FultonBowView 
7162 5/8 Kendall Golightly2011FultonBowView 
8160 Roy Kelly2018FultonCrossbowView 
9183 3/8 (NT)GA DNR2000FultonFoundView 
10182 (NT)Bob Coombs2006FultonCrossbowView 

That evening the four does came back, and they were still being followed by Brutus, along with another 6-point buck. This time Brutus came straight in to about 30 yards and turned broadside. Finally! I drew my compound bow back, then I got sick when I realized the peep site had rolled on the string to where I couldn’t see through it. With my bow at full draw, I used my teeth to roll the site back, but Brutus had moved into thick cover.

The next day I went to Mitch’s Archery and asked Mitch to fix my string. He informed me that it would be several days because of the back log of work. With Brutus active and the rut in full swing, I purchased an Xcaliber crossbow right then and there. I also invited Mitch to come hunt for the piebald buck under one condition, that he wouldn’t shoot the big buck that I now had been hunting for three years.

The next day I was able to hunt was Thanksgiving morning, and I put Mitch in a ladder stand about 400 yards from where I would be hunting. He called me at 8:30 a.m. from his stand and with panic in his voice said, “Oh my gosh, he is a monster!” Brutus had come as close as 17 yards from his stand. Mitch told me that he was fighting other bucks and running does. The herd of deer had stayed around his stand for more than 45 minutes.

Mitch had never hunted with me before and didn’t know the property or where I was hunting. I kept my eyes peeled and prayed non-stop. At 8:45 a.m. I saw a large-bodied deer 150 yards away. The deer disappeared into a stand of young beech trees. I was using the new Primos Buck Roar. I snort-wheezed and laid down a series of 15 extremely aggressive, dominant grunts. I waited about 15 minutes and did another snort-wheeze and a series of eight grunts. I followed this up with one short and one long grunt, then I put the call down.

Fifteen minutes later a buck appeared at about 120 yards. It was Brutus, and he was headed straight toward me. He got to 60 yards and stopped. He turned his head and looked down the hill 90 degrees away. He stared intently at something down in the creek bottom.
I figured a doe was about to draw him away or maybe a trespasser was about to scare him off the other way.

I hung my head and sighed in frustration, and my eyes caught my Primos bleat can. I grabbed the bleat and turned it over. Brutus immediately flung his head toward me and started walking my way. He was at 50 yards… 40 yards… 30 yards… I picked him up with my 30-yard pin… 20-yard pin…

Now folks, I got to tell you, I don’t have a 10-yard pin, but at this point he’s at 10 yards, and I had never seen how massive this deer’s rack really was. The deer was always moving. I was now looking at a wall of antlers up close. I knew this was my moment to take him. I was lined up on his spine almost straight down, and I let the bolt fly. When that crossbow arrow hit the deer, there was a one-second delay where he didn’t know that he had been hit. He then crumbled to the ground against a tree and let out a tremendous buck roar that echoed down the creek bottom. When he roared, a big 6-pointer came running down the hill. Brutus saw the 6-pointer and mustered enough strength to take a few steps which allowed him to make it to the bottom of the hill 30 yards away. The 6-pointer then ran down the hill to Brutus and started poking him with his antlers. Brutus stood up, moved another 10 yards then lay down.

I got down as fast as I could, readied my bow and quietly stepped down the hill. It was right about 9:15 a.m., the sunlight was filtering through the forest and a shaft of light was shining on the right side of his rack, which had split G2s and split G3s and five other points — a total of nine on just the right side. I literally stopped in my tracks, I couldn’t move. This was a world-class animal. I focused on the rack and exhaled, refocused on the rack and exhaled again and again and again and again. I dropped to one knee, shook my head in disbelief and tried to catch my breath. I stood up with goose bumps all over, and then slowly I approached the animal. He was finished.

Man if you could have just been in my shoes for that one moment! The first thing I did was thank him for his life and praise God. I talked to Brutus and told him how he had been under my stand the last day of 2005-06 season and how he had me tangled up so many times and what a pleasure it was to have hunted such a magnificent and elusive animal for three years.

Brutus had grown a Boone & Crockett class rack; however, I believe he had been hit by a car.

It broke a 7-inch G4 antler off the left side of his rack. It also broke two of Brutus’ teeth and caused a deep gash in the bottom of his chin. Even with the broken rack, he netted 182 0/8 non-typical.

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