Last-Chance Bucks And A Deer Season Recap

Daryl Kirby | January 4, 2019

It ain’t quite over, but we’re about to put a period on another Georgia deer season. For us at GON, by the end of November it feels like our deer season might last forever. Then one day you look up, and the Truck-Buck entries stop coming in, and so do the emails and phone calls about big bucks and first deer for kids. Then we start the wait all over again—a countdown for another opening day.

This was a season for a big change for hunters in the northern half of the state, and we’re very curious about how hunters felt about this season in the Georgia deer woods. Make sure to participate in the VOTES survey that appears on the cover of the January 2019 issue.

Our Hunt Advisor team filed their final reports of the deer season, giving us a look at how the season went in their little pockets of the state. They also give some great tips for a last-chance buck.


Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, said, “All things considered, it’s been a successful season here in the north end of the county. With low mast crop, it would be hard to pin point a real hard rut. With all the buck sign that exploded in the woods as primitive-weapons season came in, I’m leaning toward the best rut happened early, say last of October. My twin grandsons have taken up my slack (Tim had emergency open-heart surgery). With a buck and doe each, they put four in the freezer so far. Still hoping for a couple more to see us through until next season. 

“If you have access to some green fields for the remainder of the season, that could prove to be profitable. One late-season food source that can get overlooked is privet hedge, which can be found around wildlife openings and hay fields, and along a lot of creek bottoms. I saw a group of about eight deer hammering a patch of privet just this afternoon about two hours before dark. 

This Newton County 14-pointer was killed Halloween evening by Brian Lee, of Stockbridge. The 22 1/2-inch wide rack has 6-inch bases and rough scored over 160 inches.

“Hunting the fronts can also pay off big time in late season. With fronts rolling in about every three days, try the evening before the rain starts, and if it’s a total washout like we have been having, don’t miss the day it clears. If anyone has sugar beets in their food plots, deer will be digging those out, especially if we have a snow before season closes.

“For us who hunt the Chattahoochee National Forest, don’t forget, the deer season closes in the National Forest on Dec. 26, not Jan. 15. I hope to be back 100 percent by turkey season. Until then, be safe, God bless, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas!”

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Well, last month’s report was pretty dull, and this

month’s is not any better. It has been the slowest second half to a season that I can remember. Natural food sources are gone, and they weren’t very plentiful to begin with. I planted a food plot back in the fall, and they’re keeping it mowed down to the ground, and I’m feeding as much corn as I can afford.

Brianna Reed, 15, of Lula, shot this 134-inch buck in Hall County on Nov. 3.

“The strongest rutting I saw was late October and early November, and it seemed to be over as quick as it started. The only deer I’ve taken was just a decent 3-year-old 8-point on Oct. 27. That is the only buck that I saw actually flat out chasing. The does seem to have already bunched back up, and they have their fawns from last year back with them. I will continue to go when time’s available. I would like to take one more for meat, but I’m also ready for it to end. I’ve got beagles that are wanting to run, but I can’t do it until this long deer season is over.”


Columbia County: Dylan Hankal, of Appling, reports, “So far the 2018-2019 deer season has been a fun and challenging one. Around my neck of the woods it was very easy to pattern the bucks and does from mid summer throughout the fall, however it has started slowing down as the season has progressed. Right now all the deer are in the thickets close to feeding areas, such as food plots and corn piles. Most movement is right at dark or shortly after daybreak as the deer are going back to their beds.

“As far as the buck movement goes, it’s very slow. I’m starting to see scrapes pop back up around the edges of food plots and along hot trails leading to and from bedding.”

Mason Peavy, 20, of Rincon, killed this 7×4 11-pointer with a crossbow on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in Effingham County. “When we walked up on him, I couldn’t believe that what I just shot as a decent 8-point was the biggest deer I’ve ever killed,” said Mason. “Definitely a hunt I will never forget and will cherish the rest of my life.”

Fayette County: Shane McMonigle, aka “rutnbuk” on the GON Forum, reports, “Folks, this is always my least favorite report to write, simply because it means deer season is almost over. Looks like this has turned out to be one heck of a Georgia deer season. At press time there are still great bucks being entered in the GON Truck-Buck, and folks are still seeing deer. No doubt the new baiting regulations have made an impact this season for the Northern Zone, and should make filling a late-season tag more of a possibility, especially with a couple of weeks still left. 

“I rate my season as ‘Excellent’ simply because I got to hunt more days in November than days I did not—that’s a success! However, I have always learned more from my mistakes over the last three decades chasing deer than I have ever learned through success. Despite some good success this season, I learned I am still fully capable of making rookie mistakes, and the ol’ whitetail deer taught me some humility a time or two. But lessons learned in the woods are good lessons, even if they sting the pride a bit.

“On the morning of Dec. 7, I was actually in my stand reflecting on the season and giving thanks to God for another year in the Georgia deer woods. As I was about to get down, the largest buck I have seen all year came by on a mission, and I was able to get an arrow in him. What an incredible day to say the least. 

“I have seen so many pictures on my phone and heard so many stories of big bucks, first deer, kids having success, and just all around good deer stories this year, it has really reminded me just how fortunate we are to live and hunt in Georgia. I know certain areas in the state still have some concerns with the deer population, but in general I truly believe these are the best of times. So, support your local cooler, taxidermist, and gun and

Dakota Kelly shot this Butts County buck with his bow on Nov. 4 when it came in and worked a mock scrape.

archery shops, and certainly GON. Can you imagine not getting your GON in the mailbox during hunting season? I can’t. Renew that subscription! Rutnbuk signing off until next season—good luck and God Bless!”

Hancock County: Matthew Gilbert, of Loganville, reports, “This season is ending like most others. The weather is all over the place, and the deer are, too. It seems like our best weather has been weekdays, but when we have time to be in the woods, it has been rough. Warm or wet days have caused some frustration as we are trying to take out a few more does. We always try to fill the freezer after the deer concentrate on the food plots and help feeding become more consistent. 

“Evening deer numbers on the food plots are there, and morning hunts mostly have been productive between beds and food. There are a few bucks showing up we haven’t seen before. Some are decent, but this late in the season they are let go because they are also great signs for next year. We love letting these bucks go this time of the year! If they can make it through the winter healthy, we are going to have another fun season next year.

Here’s another nice bow-buck killed in November. John Callaway arrowed this Evans County buck on Nov. 3.

“Four hunters have killed their first deer on our property this fall. These and our kids’ kills are the most satisfying part of our hunting. The time we put in with food plots, stand maintenance and all the other work is always rewarded with newer hunters being successful. 

“These last few weeks, it is time to take out more does and see who ends up with the heaviest one of the season. The three Gilbert boys take pride in having their name on the Monster Doe Award plaque, and we will hopefully get after it with the holiday break ahead.”

Putnam County: Dwayne Britt, of Grayson, reports, “Great season for seeing deer. Lots of good quality bucks seen this season on camera, but a little more scarce during shooting hours. Food plots have looked great, and the deer have hammered them. Acorns were plentiful, but they are gone at this point. 

“Chasing started again the second week of December with young bucks chasing does. Food plots should be a good place to hunt in the afternoons, and any cutover with lots of briars will be a great place to hunt in the mornings. I would assume corn will have more daylight production if hunting pressure was low in December. Hunt any areas that have thick cover nearby and transition areas from thick pines and hardwoods near the food source. Good luck, and hoping everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

What a sight! Brian Sawyer took this picture from a Dooly County deer stand early morning Nov. 19.


Blake Floyd, of Cochran, with his Twiggs County 8-point shot with a bow 10 minutes behind a doe. Blake’s buck rough scored at 138 inches.

Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “As we are winding down to the end of another deer season, we are still holding out for a mature buck. 

“The deer as of right now have slowed down to nearly nothing in the daylight hours. The trail cameras are showing a fair amount of deer moving in the overnight hours. 

“This season for us has been an uneventful one as far as for mature bucks. But we are not giving up by any means. There is still time and opportunity to harvest one, and to do that we are going to have to hunt the travel routes from bedding areas to feeding areas and along the thickets and bottoms where they seem to be moving the most. 

“It’s been a slow go for the most part, and we haven’t seen a lot of deer movement at all. The does seem to be more abundant this year, but not the bucks. Even the young bucks seem to be fewer in number. 

“The best time is any time, so get out there and hunt. Until next year, we will be getting ready for all those long-

GON member Bo Brook, of Henry County, killed this 17-inch wide 8-pointer in Crawford County on Oct. 19 while hunting with a muzzleloader.

bearded gobblers that have teased us all deer season. God bless!”

Early County: Sam Klement, a member of PSE and Realtree pro hunting team, hunts primarily on his land ‘Hooch’ land in Early County. “As I write this blog Dec. 13, our southwest Georgia deer appear to be right on their typical rut schedule,” Sam said. “The deer in Clay County in the Fort Gaines/Cuthbert area are running does pretty hard, and I am hearing some reports of solid deer being shot. In Early County we typically follow Clay in terms of rutting approximately five days behind. So this weekend and next week should be ideal times to start pulling some all-day hunts. 

“This past Monday on Dec. 10 we had a major cold front push through, and it was pseudo sleet/rain in the afternoon. I felt like the deer might be moving, since I was just starting to get some good daytime photos of mature bucks checking and working scrapes. After slipping into a set I hung in June, waiting for a day like this to give it a try, I let things settle down and lightly tickled my antlers on a string pull rope. After a 15- to 20-minute period, I hit them again much harder and aggressive followed by a few loud grunts. This buck was bedded where I figured deer may be and stepped out blown up and licking his nose. He slowly worked his way into bow range, stopping a few times to check the wind and hit a couple of saplings. 

First deer with a bow, and it’s a piebald buck. Zack Peebles, of Vidalia, got this 8-pointer in Emanuel County on Sept. 30. “I’ve watched him for two years. That day my 5-year-old niece begged me to take her hunting, and he stepped out,” said Zack.

“I always spray VooDOO deer lure out on a few bushes in the area before climbing into my stand, and then I mist a bit more from the stand and put a few cap-fulls out from the tree. This buck definitely caught this scent and was convinced a deer was in his core area! My PSE/Muzzy did their jobs. The buck only ran about 50 yards (Sam’s buck is in Week 14 of Truck-Buck and will appear in next month’s GON). 

“Interestingly, when waiting in the tree to recover this buck, I had a hot doe come out and several decent bucks in tow. I feel like they were all bedded in this thicket, and the deer I shot came out first to fight to my horns! Point being, if you have any tricks up your sleeve like grunts, antlers, VooDoo, now is the time to start getting aggressive. 

“Our southwest Georgia rut will wax and wane through much of December now, depending on cooler temps. I will continue to focus my efforts in thick transition areas between hardwoods and nearby ag fields, and areas I feel like deer will be headed to after dark in hopes of having another scenario play out like this one. For my fellow hunters in Decatur and Seminole counties, your bucks should be doing about the same thing in late December into early January. Food plots in the evening are always a great place to catch a buck in tow behind a hot doe. 

“Good luck to my fellow hunters. Enjoy your days afield, and continue to hunt hard. All it takes in one hot doe and one lucky break, and you are in the proverbial chips! Huntin’ is Good!”

Jerry Barron, of Ivey, with his Wilkinson County 8-point shot as the buck was chasing a doe on Nov. 30.

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “As yet another deer season winds down in Harris County, I’m still looking for that one ‘special’ buck of my own. But many of my friends and fellow hunting-club members have combined to make this season one of the best in many years, at least for numbers of solid, mature bucks taking rides to the taxidermist. And, from an overall perspective, our Harris County deer herd looks to be

This Monroe County 15-point buck has been rough scored at 178 total inches. The buck is a main-frame 5×7 that should net in the mid 150s. Mike Worley shot the buck Nov. 8. Read the full story here.

improving, with more twin fawns being recruited into the fall hunting season than I’ve observed in a good, long while.

“If you’re like me and are still trying to fill a buck tag, or you want to put another doe or two in the freezer, afternoons hunting food plots or over supplemental feed will probably be your best bet for the remainder of the season. And as you hunt these afternoon food sources, you’ll find that the colder the day, the more deer you’ll see! Over the years, I’ve found that I really enjoy hunting the last couple of weeks of our Georgia deer season—after all the holidays are over and both the woods and my life settle down some. As long as I hunt these types of food sources, I usually see deer, plus there is a peacefulness and solitude about the woods at this time of year that is just plain enjoyable. So, my advice is hunt until the very last day of the season. I think you’ll enjoy it, no matter how you define a ‘successful’ deer hunt!

“Until turkey season…”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Another season is winding down, and it was a good one for a lot of folks. I said in my first report this season that I thought this was gonna be a good year for big bucks, and that it was. They were some bruisers killed everywhere. My buddy Jerry Barron killed one of the prettiest 8-point bucks I have seen in Wilkinson County. On Nov. 30 the buck was chasing a doe at 7:05 a.m. He had it all—mass, width and beams. 

Jennifer Smith, of Dawsonville, got her first deer ever in Forsyth County this season. Jennifer was hunting with her dad, and they went several times without seeing anything until the hunt when this 10-pointer stepped out.

“Then on Dec. 8 my cousin Blake Floyd killed a brute with his bow that we have pics of for the last six years on our tract. This was another 8-point, and it weighed right at 200 pounds and had no teeth left, so he was probably 8 years old at least. I’ve heard of some more around town but don’t have pictures. Mark Foster killed a dandy I heard, and so did Wayne ‘Mudcat’ Nobles.

“It’s winding down now, and if you haven’t killed one yet, it’s gettin’ tough. They will be trying to put the weight back on they lost, so food will be number one on their list. You’re gonna have to get close to the bedding area without letting them know if you can. A late doe could bring one by, but I’d hunt the food near the beds. One thing is for sure, you have to be in the woods, not at the house. It gets hard this time of

Peach County produced this super buck for Rusty Shaw on the afternoon on opening day of gun season.

year, but it can and does happen every year to some lucky person, so stick with it.

“Thanks again to GON for letting me be apart of such an awesome magazine that feeds my addiction so much and just keeps getting better. Talk to you in turkey season, I hope. Good luck.”

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