How The 2023-24 Weeks Were Won, Part II

Here’s a look at the stories behind the hunters and the Georgia bucks that got them in the upcoming Truck-Buck Shoot-Out.

GON Staff | June 25, 2024

Another group of Georgia deer hunters will soon take the stage at the Ag-Pro GON Outdoor Blast on July 28 to compete in the 35th annual Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. The second-best shot will win a Firminator G-3 food-plot implement by Ranew’s Outdoor Equipment, and the man, woman or youngster who makes that last shot will win a new truck from John Megel Chevrolet.

This amazing big-buck contest—no other state has anything like this—wouldn’t be possible without two vital elements—subscribers to GON magazine and the sponsors who provide the loot year after year. In addition to the grand prizes, the weekly winners have already earned great prize packages.

The six winners during archery season earn a Mathews Phase4 29 bow (retail value $1,199). During the Week 6 primitive-weapons/youth season, the winner earned a CVA Optima muzzleloader (retail value $1,094), and the 11 winners during firearms season each won a Savage Storm 110 deer rifle (retail value $959). Truck-Buck weekly winners also receive an HSS safety harness, and an assortment of deer attractant and deer minerals from 4S Wildlife. The coveted Shoot-Out shirts for all Truck-Buck and Youth Big-Buck Contest contestants are again possible thanks to our friends at Realtree.

The four wildcard winners in the Truck-Buck contest earn prize packages that include Shoot-Out jerseys from Realtree, a $250 gift certificate from AgriSupply, a Rugged Road Outdoors 30 can cooler, an HSS safety harness, and an assortment of deer attractant and deer minerals from 4S Wildlife.

Let’s meet the second half of this year’s Shoot-Out field. If you missed last month’s stories, they are a CLICK away.


Week 11: Morgan Rae Walker

County: Dodge Date: Nov. 24

Net Score: 154 4/8 Typical

Editor’s Note: The below story was written by Morgan’s daddy, Jack Walker.

Week 11: Morgan Rae Walker let this buck go during the 2022 season, knowing it could grow into a Georgia giant. In 2023, her roll of the dice paid off.

This hunt started for me in 1993 when I was 13 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. My Uncle Craig brought his Telfair County Boone and Crockett over to my Uncle John’s house to show us. I was amazed. Deer only grew this big in magazines and on TV. He was huge! Ever since that day, I swear nearly every time I’ve sat in a deer stand I’ve thought about a buck of that caliber walking out in front of me.

Fast forward 29 years. In 2022, Morgan Rae and I were sitting in a deer stand and a buck walked out bigger than any buck I’ve ever seen from a tree in Georgia. This was a 150-class buck. We had gotten numerous trail-camera pictures of him, and I made the decision to pass him up because of his age, and I knew he would turn into a buck of a lifetime if he made it. When I laid my eyes on him, it was a very tough decision, but I knew this deer could turn into a giant. So after rolling the dice and letting him walk, Morgan Rae and I started making a plan to get a chance at him in 2023.

When deer season rolled around, we began the cat-and-mouse chase. Morgan Rae literally hunted every single day of the season, only missing two afternoons of hunting.

On Friday morning after Thanksgiving at 7:10, he walked out. I was in awe. Morgan Rae made an absolutely perfect shot. I just thought 30 years ago it would be the greatest thing for me to kill a giant buck, but there’s nothing in this world I’d rather have done than to watch my daughter do it.


Week 12: Russ Hiley

County: Peach   Date: Nov. 26

Net Score: 146 0/8 Typical

Week 12: Russ Hiley had a lot of thanking to do after killing this buck. His girlfriend, dad, AntlerXtreme and God all played a part in the hunt for this deer.

The afternoon I killed my big buck was rainy to the point that I almost didn’t even go sit in the stand. I had been hunting this buck since opening day, and I hadn’t even seen him once.

My girlfriend talked me into going to sit, and after about an hour of sitting, there he was. He walked out from my right very quickly, and it took a couple noises to make him finally come to a halt. When he did, I was ready. I shot him on his left side with almost a perfect heart shot. He ran about 20 yards back into the pecan orchard I was hunting in. Then, I saw him fall.

I had buck fever so bad that my teeth were chattering. That deer turned out to be my biggest buck yet. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to take a shot at this deer. I’m thankful for my dad, who fed him all summer long. I’m thankful for AntlerXtreme for the best feed around. I had never seen that buck until we started feeding AntlerXtreme. I’m so grateful for the blessings God has placed in my life, and I’m grateful for the things He is going to do in my life.


Week 13: Ken Perry

County: Colquitt   Date: Dec. 3

Net Score: 135 4/8 Typical

Week 13: Ken Perry said a buck he called Double Brow did not like to make daylight appearances. Like a well-written scene from a Duncan Dobie fiction story, this buck just appeared in the daylight haze 260 yards away. Ken made the shot count.

This story begins on a friend’s small family farm. Over the summer, we put in a lot of work on plots and stands. We put out cameras on the plots and had a lot of deer activity. We watched several nice bucks grow their antlers over the next few months.

A buck we called Double Brow did not like the daylight. He started showing up with some does during Thanksgiving week every evening right at dark and just past legal shooting light. He was very smart.

The following Saturday, we had some storms come in, and I didn’t get to hunt that evening. The next morning we got there early, hoping he would still be around hunkered down because of the storms. Around 7:15, it was raining lightly and there was a haze over the food plot. I never saw the buck walk out, but I just noticed a big buck standing there 260 yards away. He was possibly checking the food plot for a doe or bumped out of his bed by the neighbors. I never picked up binoculars. I knew it was a shooter. He gave me a broadside shot and ran about 150 yards while leaving very little blood. It was still raining, so I was worried about losing the trail.

My buddy I was hunting with came, and we eventually found him. He buried up under some thick stuff and pine straw. All we could see was his tail. We didn’t know we had Double Brow until we uncovered him. It was a very exciting and memorable hunt. He is my best buck to date. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to harvest him.


Week 14: Brian Bramlett

County: Barrow   Date: Dec. 14

Net Score: 149 7/8 Typical

Week 14: Brian Bramlett said hunting is a part of his roots. He took this buck on family land, the same Barrow County property he hunts with his kids and other family, making it the most special hunting experience he’s ever had.

Dec. 14, 2023 would turn out to be the most exciting and memorable day of hunting in my life. I’m 50 years old, and my dad started me out hunting at a very young age. I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt our family farm with my own children and other family members. I also have been lucky enough to go on multiple out-of-state big-game hunts with great success, but none of those hunts will ever mean as much to me as this hunt.

The chase started back in late summer when my brother said that he had spotted a “really nice buck” on our family farm. Also, we had heard from neighbors who said that they had seen him, as well. Even one of my friends from high school rang my doorbell at 7 a.m. one early September morning. He asked if I still liked to hunt. Without hesitation, I replied certainly! He then told me that one of the biggest bucks he had ever seen just crossed the road in front of him near our property. So, with this news buzzing around, my son and I were quick to set up our trail cameras in hopes of catching him in the area.

As weeks passed, we were able to get pictures of some nice bucks but none of him. As the rut arrived, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was still around because none of our cameras had captured him. From opening day, if I wasn’t at work, I was hunting for this one particular deer whether in the sun, wind or rain. Although not giving up, my hopes were diminishing.

As Thanksgiving neared and family get-togethers were being planned, my understanding family would plan our dinner around hunting hours so that I was able to take full advantage of having a four-day weekend to pursue this buck.

With a very eventful Thanksgiving morning with some great buck movement, he was still a no-show. That afternoon also turned out to be really great but still no sign of him. With lots of rut activity, I headed home for Thanksgiving dinner with encouragement about Friday’s hunt. Then as I sat down with my plate full of turkey and dressing, it happened. With a ding from my phone and a notification from my trail camera app, THERE HE WAS! He passed through 45 minutes after dark. The excitement was back!

For the next three days, I was there. I encountered lots of deer but never did see him. A couple of weeks passed with no more appearances on camera. It was early December and the rut was winding down, and I knew my chances were shrinking, but I did not give up and still hunted every day that I had the chance to.

On the evening of Dec. 13, I called my son, Will, to let him know that I was going to go hunting the next morning for a few hours. He wished me good luck, like always, as I gathered my things for the next morning’s hunt and then went to bed.

At 4 a.m., I was awakened by a text message from Will stating, “Check your camera when you wake up.” I immediately knew that he was back. He was there at 11:58 p.m. the night before. With so much excitement, I went ahead and got up and got ready to go. With tons of anticipation, I headed to the woods well before daylight.

Just minutes after daybreak, I spotted a group of seven does easing their way out of a bedding area and feeding away from me on a hardwood ridge. Then at 7:25 a.m., just as the last doe was working her way out of sight, I looked back where they came from, and there he was. He was taking the shorter path to the does, which had him quartering away from me. He finally stopped with his head behind a big oak, so I settled the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. He dropped in his tracks!

The first thing I did was call Will to tell him the news. I think he was as excited as me. The emotions of walking up and laying my hands on a deer that I had dedicated so much of my time to is unexplainable. It felt unreal. I passed several good bucks waiting for him, and it finally paid off. I am very thankful to have had a dad who taught me the value of hunting at such a young age and also thankful to be able to enjoy it with my family, as well.


Week 15: Daniel Moore

County: Wilcox   Date: Dec. 18

Net Score: 152 6/8 Typical

Week 15: Daniel Moore had been hunting this deer for multiple seasons. He is glad his daddy taught him the principle of patience. It allowed this deer to grow into a 150-class buck.

What began as a typical mid-season, afternoon hunt ended as one of the most unexpected and exciting days of my life.

I got in the stand much later than I normally do. Within about 10 minutes, two does walked out. This wasn’t out of the ordinary, so I just sat back and enjoyed watching them and their behavior with nature. It wasn’t long before I caught a glimpse of something in the distance. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was confident it was a buck. I slowly raised my rifle, looked through my scope, and there he stood. All eight points were tilted downward as he grazed in the field. Adrenaline rushed through my body, and my heart began racing. I knew I had to steady my hands and control my breathing. This was very hard to do with a rack that wide in my crosshairs. One of the does blew at him, convincing me that my chance to display him on my wall was over. However, I was wrong.

He got curious and turned broadside for a better look down the treeline. Not knowing it, but he had just positioned himself for me to make a perfect, clean kill. I took a deep breath, slowly squeezed the trigger, and he was down. I sat there still for several minutes in the deafening silence. I was taking in the moment. Within the flood of emotions came a calm and humble respect for wildlife, especially for this buck.

Upon approaching him, I realized he was one of the few I had actually been watching and hunting for a few years. He had not appeared the entire season until that Monday afternoon. The difference in his mass from season to season was just ONE reminder of the many skills that my daddy taught me about hunting. Patience. Just be patient. I’m thankful for all the early mornings he took me to the deer stand with him. While I sometimes complained, he would remind me that being able to hunt was a blessing from the Lord.

Indeed it is!


Week 16: Karl Allen

County: Fulton   Date: Dec. 24

Net Score: 152 0/8 Typical Bow

Week 16: Karl Allen now holds the family record for best buck. Appropriately, named “Boone,” this buck was tall, wide and heavy.

The deer I called Boone is the finest deer I have chased and ever harvested. I come from a family of hunters and have been doing it myself since I was a child.

This was the caliber of deer I’ve always dreamed about, and I began putting in the work to get it done. I found the trails, assessed my approach and began gathering intel via cameras.  Some of my first night pictures had me believing this could be a Boone & Crockett caliber buck, which is where his name stemmed. He was nearly perfect—tall, wide and heavy!

I hunted hard in November and had one missed opportunity but kept at it.  On two separate occasions, I had daylight photos, but I was duck hunting once and at an auto repair shop the second. I was crushed but not deterred.

As the Lord had planned, it all came together shortly after legal shooting light on Christmas Eve. I now hold our family record by a few inches and a team of supporters joined me in the celebration.


Week 17: Paula Lewis

County: Dougherty   Date: Jan. 7

Net Score: 150 4/8 Typical

Paula Lewis invested a pile of time hunting this buck. She told GON, “I spent an accumulated 44 hours sitting for this buck, which I named Maverick. Just like Maverick in Top Gun, he followed no one’s rules and had no pattern or predictability! He was certainly worth the time in the saddle.”


Ladies Wildcard: Savanna Davis

County: Dooly   Date: Nov. 20

Net Score: 145 2/8 Typical

Ladies Wildcard: Savanna Davis took this 13-pointer two days before her 13th birthday. We’re not sure how a 13 year old will get a John Megel Chevy home, but we’re sure plans will be in place.

Editor’s Note: The below story was submitted by The Davis Family.

Savanna Davis from Dooly County was hunting with her mom and cousin Clint in a box stand at a food plot they call The Meadow on their private land.

This giant buck walked out at 5:20 p.m. He just came out and crossed right in front of us so fast. We knew he was a shooter, but Savanna just couldn’t get a shot. He went straight back into the woods. Savanna’s mom grunted at him and hit the can three or four times to try and get him back out, but he just kept going deeper into the woods.

We thought the hunt was over until he showed back up a few minutes later to the right side of the box stand in the thick woods. As Savanna propped her rifle out the right-side window, he was staring straight at us. She aimed, fired and dropped him straight in his tracks.

He had 13 points, and she was turning 13 years old in two days. We had not seen this buck on camera before. He must have been cruising around from the rut. We’re thankful for this 200-lb. trophy buck. The freezer got full!

Genesis 27:3 says, “Go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me!”


Public-Land Wildcard: Adam Kirk

County: Rabun   Date: Nov. 30

Net Score: 144 1/8 Typical

Public-Land Wildcard: Adam Kirk did something that most haven’t done—kill a 140-class mountain buck on public land during his rookie season of hunting steep terrain.

I decided to scout an area of the Chattahoochee National Forest during the 2022 season and found a scrape along a saddle. I placed a camera on it and came back home. The location was 1.5 miles and a 1,000-foot climb from the truck. It was really tough for me to get to at first.

I had every intention of going back and checking that camera but ultimately never went back up that mountain until September 2023. I pulled the camera and came home. When I checked the SD card, I was shocked to see the buck that I would later kill. He made four daylight appearances during the 2022 season. Each picture was taken at midday.

I returned the following weekend and placed some cell cameras in traditional scrape spots I had found the previous year. During October, I finally got a picture confirming the deer was still in the area. I made several trips up that mountain and never laid eyes on the buck.

On Nov. 4, he made his first daylight appearance at 1:53 p.m. on a scrape I had hunted the day before.  Then, Nov. 29, he came through at 11:53 a.m. I took off Nov. 30 to hunt this deer.

Throughout the season, I didn’t have much confidence that I would harvest him. This is my first year hunting in the mountains, and it’s very different from what I am accustomed to. For some reason, I just had a feeling the night before the hunt that I would have an opportunity at this deer. I took that feeling and made sure my skinning knife was sharp as I prepared my pack.

On the morning of the hunt, the wind was forecasted out of the west-northwest and was going to swap to a south wind around 10 a.m. I knew my climber was not set up for a south wind. Since I had never gotten a picture of the buck prior to 11 a.m., I removed my climber from my original spot and slipped up the mountain in anticipation for the swapping wind direction.

At lunch, I had not seen a deer, but for some reason, I still had a feeling it was going to happen. At 12:48 p.m., I heard a deer approaching from over my left shoulder. I managed to turn around and look and confirmed it was the buck I was after. He walked directly to the base of my tree, and I shot him. He fell right there. Then the hard work started.

I climbed down and field-dressed him and began my 1.5-mile drag back to the truck. I can say with almost certainty that if I had not moved my stand location that morning, the deer would have smelled me.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the good Lord above for giving me the opportunity to harvest this deer. I will leave you with this: you should know someone loves you enough to die for you. That someone was Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and none will get to the Father except through the Son. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, I implore you to submit your life to Christ before it’s too late.


Youth Wildcard: Bubba Brannen

County: Tift  Date: Nov. 19

Net Score: 151 7/8 Typical Crossbow

Youth Wildcard: Bubba Brannen, 15 at the time, knows the highs and lows of hunting. In just one season, he went from losing his hunting property with no notice to taking the buck of a lifetime.

Three weeks before deer season began, our farm was sold without notice and left us without a place to hunt. Unable to find any land, my dad decided he would plant a food plot and set up a feeder and a few cameras behind the house.

Only a few days went by, and we started getting pics of several young bucks and does. Two weeks later a big 8-point showed up. We named him One-Eyed Willy because he was blind in his left eye. He stayed very consistent, coming in at night only. Hoping one of us would get a chance at him, we were able to get permission to hunt on our neighbor’s property, also.

Finally on Nov. 16, we had a pic of him at 10:13 a.m. in the wide open. This pic gave us a little hope that we would get our chance.

Over the next couple of days, our Tactacams showed that only young bucks and does were showing up.

On Nov. 19, I got into the ground blind about 6 a.m. with my fingers crossed that I would get a chance to lay eyes on Willy. Shortly after daybreak, I heard something crashing in the woods on the neighboring property and Willy came running over to our side and stood broadside at 25 yards. I was able to get my crossbow on target and squeeze off a shot before he made his next move. Willy tucked his tail and bolted. I couldn’t tell which direction he ran off because of my limited view. He either ran into some woods or got down into a drainage ditch.

I called my dad, and he came down to help me find blood and start tracking. We located blood where he was standing, and the track job was easy. He made it maybe 40 yards, and the rest is history. What started off as a dismal season turned out to be one of the best seasons ever, scoring my largest buck to date at 151 7/8 inches.

Just a little hard work and determination can pay off.


Runner-Up Wildcard: Smisson Rigdon

County: Houston  Date: Sept. 17

Net Score: 156 1/8 Typical Bow

Runner-Up Wildcard: Smisson Rigdon had a September to remember, killing two giant bucks with his bow. This one is the No. 5 typical bow-kill from all of last season and earned Smisson a spot in the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out.

We had pics of this deer and originally thought he would gross in the low to mid 150s. Luckily, he was on a pretty good pattern just before the bow opener, and we had a good wind for that afternoon.

My dad and I set up a few trees apart in climbers around 5:30 p.m. Six or so deer were already in front of me when he came out. I drew back as he made his way in and while he was still behind a limb. This turned out to be a big mistake as he turned and faced away once he got within range. After more than 90 seconds of holding the bow back, he finally turned broadside. I was shaking so badly that I missed a chip shot.

Fifteen minutes later, an old, 130-plus-inch 8-point, still in full velvet that we’d been after for years, came out and gave me a 15-yard shot. I knew the bigger buck was probably not coming back, so I decided to shoot the 8-point. I made what looked like a great shot on video but couldn’t find him that evening, even after calling a dog.

I had to go to an Atlanta Braves game with my family and little sister the next morning, so I couldn’t go look for him myself. A friend went out to meet another dog around lunch and actually found the deer about 250 yards from the shot before the dog arrived.

Since it was so hot that Sunday, we wanted to quickly cape it and cool it off to try to save the velvet. I was going to be in Atlanta until late that afternoon, so I couldn’t get a picture with me and the whole deer before getting it caped and frozen. I was bummed about not being able to enter it in the Truck-Buck contest. After that, I got sick and was unable to hunt for the next five days.

The next Sunday, my dad and I put out a mix of 4S Roasted Raxx, 4S Draw, 4S Corn Spike and corn around lunchtime.

That same afternoon I got in the climber around 5:45 p.m. Around 7:30 p.m., the same buck I had missed opening day came out with a smaller buck. After five long minutes, he finally turned broadside at just under 20 yards but was acting really nervous and wouldn’t stay still. I finally stopped him and made what I thought was a really good shot. After reviewing the video, he was a bit quartering to me, and I didn’t get great penetration.

We called a dog and found him later that night. When we put our hands on him, we had a celebration and realized that he was even bigger than we thought. My deer season, or at least my buck season, was very short but was one I will never forget.

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