Jerry Malone’s 1967 Jones County Monster Buck

The No. 2 buck all-time from Jones County was killed 36 years ago this November, but it wasn’t scored until now.

Lindsay Thomas Jr. | August 1, 2003

“Deer tracks makes mighty thin soup.”

You’ve seen this old joke cross-stitched and framed or painted on plaques in country homes, but you don’t hear it much anymore. Honestly, when was the last time you came home from the woods unsuccessful but reported with enthusiasm that you had seen some deer tracks? But there was a time when deer tracks were something worth reporting. Thus the scornful words no doubt coined by some fierce-looking, unimpressed homemaker with an empty pot in her hand: “Deer tracks makes mighty thin soup!”

When Jerry Malone started deer hunting in the 1960s, a deer track made a remarkable story back home in Macon, and, equally true, deer-track soup was not going to cut it. Asked how he got started deer hunting, Jerry replies with one word: “Hungry!”

Jerry Malone’s parents operated Malone’s Food Store in Macon, and they stayed busy with the grocery store seven days a week. Jerry and his brother and neighborhood friends would spend a lot of their time roaming the woods near their home, not far from the Indian mounds at the Ocmulgee National Monument.

“Me and my brother had hounds, and we coon hunted, rabbit hunted, possum hunted, all of that,” said Jerry. “One day somebody said something about deer hunting, so we went deer hunting, too. We were hunting for a piece of meat for the table, and it didn’t matter what it was.”

Horses helped Jerry find a lot of his hunting land.

Jerry’s children and grandchildren inherited his love of horses. Even his youngest grandsons and granddaughters are piling up rodeo awards already, something Jerry loves to talk about more than the bucks on his wall. Training unbroken horses came naturally to Jerry—when he was still a boy, he saddlebroke his own first horse by jumping on bareback and learning the rest as he “went along.” Soon he had a reputation as a horse trainer, and he was asked out to farms all over Jones County to train horses. A side benefit was getting hunting permission from the farm owners.

One farm in particular was a prime deer-hunting location. It was in eastern Jones County near the town of Haddock off of Hwy 22 — just a few miles south of Cedar Creek WMA, site of a huge stocking of Wisconsin and Kentucky whitetails in 1944 (see Georgia’s complete stocking records by county in GON’s Georgia Whitetail Journal). Jerry got permission to bring his brother and several friends to hunt the old dairy farm—in those days, few people hunted deer and few landowners would refuse permission.

“This was back in the day when you could hunt for years and not even see a deer,” said Jerry. “Then, a deer track was exciting. You’d think: ‘He was here this day!’ We would even break off a pine top and drag it over sandy places, so when you saw a track there you knew it was fresh, and you knew where to hunt. That was especially good information then, because you didn’t have but a week or two to hunt, and in most counties the sheriffs wouldn’t let you hunt on Sundays, no matter what the deer season was.”

For Jerry and his hunting buddies, a deer trail was the hottest thing you could find in the woods. “We’d hunt by getting back off from the trail and then getting behind a dogwood or a bush that would cover you, and we’d bring along a bucket to sit on.”

In 1967 in north and middle Georgia, gun season was November 4-27. In 10 middle Georgia counties, including Jones, the 27th was either-sex. The bag limit was two bucks (and one doe in either-sex counties). On a Saturday during that 1967 season, Jerry and his brother, Roger, and several friends headed up to the Jones County dairy farm to hunt. On that morning’s hunt, two of Jerry’s friends killed small bucks, and the whole crew returned to Macon to help skin the deer. After hanging the deer in the meat cool- er at Jerry’s parents’ grocery story, Jerry, Roger and Donald Dudley headed back to the farm that afternoon.

“We went back in Donald’s brand new Pontiac,” said Jerry. “It was bright red, and he’s still got it today. We pulled into the farm and drove up one of the old farm roads into the woods, what we’d call a logging road or a woods road today. I had my .30-30 lever-action, and I stepped out of the car and was starting to load it when I heard Donald say, ‘Good Lord, what a deer!’”

Jerry looked up in time to see a white flag disappearing into hardwoods near a wheat field. Knowing the farm as he did, Jerry felt sure the buck was heading for a big creek bottom on the farm, and to get there he would first have to cross another farm road.

“That deer’s going to cross right down there!” Jerry told the others. He and Donald hurried on foot for the road to try to cut the buck off.

“The deer had seen us pull up in the car, and he was moving on pretty strong when we first saw him,” said Jerry. “I didn’t know if we’d get ahead of him, but he must have slowed down when he got into the woods. We came down the hill just as he was beginning to cross the road at a little wide, clear place. I knew he was a buck, but I didn’t know how big—Donald had already said he was a huge buck, so I just went to the kill point. It’s a good thing, too, because if I had looked at the rack I might not have made that hundred-yard shot. When I shot, he went down right there. One shot, dead in the heart.”

Lying in the road was a massive whitetail buck, and a quick count of every tine that you could hang a ring on went well over 20 points.

“When I saw how big he was, I couldn’t believe it. Me and Donald both went to hollering.”

The hunt was over for all three hunters, who now had no thoughts except parading the monster buck through Macon. Donald wanted to strap the buck on the hood of his new Pontiac, but Jerry wouldn’t hear of it, afraid of ruining Donald’s car. Instead, they crammed the buck into the trunk, and Jerry had to ride on top of it and hold up the rack and head so it wouldn’t drag on the pavement on the road back home. Along the way they stopped at a farmer’s house where Jerry knew he could borrow a set of farm scales.

“He pulled those scales to 300 pounds,” said Jerry, “but that was with us holding the head off the floor, because we couldn’t get the scales high enough. So, the buck might have weighed more than that, and he might have weighed less.”

One of the first stops in Macon was Manning’s Bait & Tackle on Gray Highway, and the night manager at the store was Jerry Moseley, a friend and hunting buddy of Jerry Malone’s, who was also one of the few taxidermists in Georgia at the time. Jerry Moseley still operates Buckmaster Taxidermy in Macon today. The two Jerrys struck a deal that night. Moseley would handle the arrangements for having the buck mounted in exchange for being able to display the buck for one year in Manning’s Bait & Tackle. The newly mounted buck went on the wall in Manning’s in time for the 1968 hunting season. This helped Manning’s in its competition with Southern Bait & Tackle, a larger store located only a block away at the corner of Gray Highway and Shurling Drive.

“Southern didn’t really emphasize mounts, but Richard Manning had his walls lined with mounts,” said Jerry Moseley. “We had moose, elk, antelope, deer, you name it. I started mounting stuff for him, and we had one 40-foot wall with nothing but mounts. A lot of travelers coming through Macon before the interstate was built would stop in there and gas up, because we pumped Shell gas. A lot of them would come back just to see the mounts, because there weren’t that many mounted animals around at the time. In 1968, Jerry’s buck would have been part of that wall of mounts.”

Jerry Malone of Gordon killed this Jones County 17-pointer in November of 1967. He shot it with the Model 94 Winchester .30-30 that he holds in this photo.

Long before the buck was mounted, Jerry said that several rumors, including some enormously tall tales, began to circulate about the buck.

“When the man with the Macon Telegraph came by to take my picture, I laid the .30-30 across the buck’s rack,” said Jerry, “and that’s the picture they printed when the story came out about three weeks later. On that day, I was sitting in a barber shop in Macon, and a man came running in with the newspaper in his hand. He showed the picture of me and my buck to the barber, and he said, ‘Did y’all hear about this? Everybody’s talking about it! They took this man’s picture and as soon as they did, the deer got up and ran off with that guy’s rifle!’”

The man with the newspaper hurried out to tell his amazing story to others, leaving a stunned Jerry Malone in the barber shop. He stood up and asked the barber, “Do I look familiar to you?”

“Hey, that was you in that picture!” the barber said. Then Jerry pulled a photo out of his wallet, this one show- ing the buck’s head and rack, the rifle, and the skinned-out cape as well.

“I can promise you that buck didn’t run off with my rifle,” said Jerry.

Jerry can’t control his laughter when he tells that story even now.

“I was sitting right there in the barber shop the whole time! He didn’t even recognize me!”

After a year on display in Manning’s Bait & Tackle, Jerry’s buck came home to go on his wall. In 1990, after selling the family business in Macon, Jerry took a job as a log-truck driver. Jerry’s son Jeff worked for a different company, Roberts Timber Co. of Gray, and Jeff’s boss Mark Roberts kept hearing about the big buck on the wall at Jerry Malone’s house.

“Mark knew about the deer from Jeff, but he had never seen it. He’s a big deer hunter, and he’s killed some good bucks. But every time he’d kill a nice one, Jeff would say, ‘It still ain’t big as Daddy’s.’”

Eventually, Mark hired Jerry to drive a gravel truck for his company, hauling gravel to prepare timberland roads for logging operations. “Finally, Mark asked me to bring the deer to the office, and he asked if he could display it there for a while. So, I took it to him.”

Finally setting eyes on the buck, Mark felt sure he was looking at a record-class set of antlers. After green-scoring the buck himself, Mark knew the rack needed an official score, and he happened to be friends with John West, of Milledgeville, one of Georgia’s official Boone & Crockett Club measurers. Mark called John and arranged for the buck to be scored last December.

The result was that Jerry Malone’s buck turned out to be the second-best whitetail buck ever killed in Jones County. The typical frame of the rack is that of a well-matched 10-pointer with super mass and extremely tall tines—the G-2 and G-3 tines on both antlers exceed 12 inches. Both main beams measure just over 28 inches. The 5×5 typical frame alone scores an incredible gross of 192 6/8, and the near-perfect symmetry of that main frame allowed only 4 inches in deductions for what would be a net typical score of 188 6/8, well over the B&C minimum of 170. But wait — there’s more. Seven sticker points, including forks off of each brow tine, amount to 18 5/8 inches in abnormal length. This was enough inches to help the buck score better as a non-typical, which allows those inches to be added back to the typical-frame net rather than subtracted. The final non-typical net score of 207 3/8 is well over the non-typical B&C minimum of 195.

From a statewide perspective, that score places Jerry Malone’s buck as the 11th best non-typical buck on record in Georgia. It took 36 years for it to get on the list, but better late than never!

Jones County Best Bucks Of All-Time

1180 7/8 Clayton Kitchens1957JonesGunView 
2207 3/8 (NT)Jerry Malone1967JonesGunView 
3203 4/8 (NT)Curtis Long1966JonesGun
4197 4/8 (NT)Earl Williams1962JonesGunView 
5192 4/8 (NT)Fred Maxwell1962JonesGun
6192 3/8 (NT)Emory Tribble1989JonesGunView 
7164 5/8 Larry Scarborough1981JonesGun
8188 (NT)Abe Northcutt1958JonesGunView 
9163 6/8 Bobby Doming1963JonesGun
10162 2/8 Michael McDonald Sr.2002JonesGunView 

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