Laurens County’s First Boone & Crockett Buck

For deer hunter Darrell Evans, lightning struck in November, 1999 when he turned his back and a record book buck appeared out of nowhere!

Brad Bailey | August 4, 1993

Darrell Evans and the first B&C from Laurens County.

Every deer hunter who ever went to the woods has wondered each morning how his luck will run that day. Will he see any deer? Will he see a good buck? Will he shoot a good buck?

There are roughly 500,000 deer hunters in Georgia, and last season they spent countless man-days in the woods with varying degrees of deer hunting luck. But for only one hunter in a half-million did deer hunting lightning crash down bringing the ultimate bolt of good fortune—a Boone & Crockett buck. That hunter, Darrell Evans, of Rentz, on Nov. 8 , 1992, killed a buck that scored better than any other buck killed in Georgia last year.

Darrell works the midnight to 8 a.m. shift at Forstmann’s in East Dublin, and the odd hours often make getting away to go deer hunting difficult. But Darrell was off work last Nov. 8 and planned to spend the Sunday morning in his deer stand.

He had already had some good luck during archery season and had taken a 4-point buck and a doe on the same day on Beaverdam WMA.

On Sunday, Nov. 8, he planned to hunt a private 130-acre tract near his home. On Saturday after getting off work, he had taken his 4-wheeler to the property to scout a good place to hunt. He likes to use the 4-wheeler to scout, he says, because it leaves no scent behind. He found a spot where a buck had made two small pawed places in the pine straw covered road.

“They weren’t very big scrapes,” said Darrell. “Only about 2 feet across but they were fresh, so I decided to hunt there the next morning.”

Darrell hadn’t found any exceptional sign and hadn’t heard of anyone seeing an outstanding buck in the area. There was nothing to indicate that he would see the biggest buck of his hunting career the next day. Besides, doe days were in and Darrell planned on taking a doe if he had the opportunity.

Early Sunday morning Darrell’s brother-in-law Steve Lawson and friend Mike Johnson showed up at his home to go deer hunting. They all piled into Darrell’s truck for the short ride to the hunting property. The sky was clear, the wind was still, and it was cold that morning. The hunters were bundled up against the chill.

Mike was dropped off to hunt a stand on a firebreak, and Darrell and Steve drove to the other end of the property and walked into the woods together. Steve’s stand was along a deer trail that led to the area Darrell was hunting, although they were hunting about a half mile apart.

Darrell had been hunting deer ever since deer were restocked in the area. He attempts to hunt as scent free as possible. His hunting camos had been washed in Pine-Sol, he had bathed in baking soda, he was wearing rubber boots, and he was using fox urine as a cover scent.

At the base of a telephone-pole-sized pine tree, Darrell hurriedly put his Tomcat climber together. It was already getting light in the open woods. He climbed the tree until he was about 30 feet above the ground.

“I like to get up high where I can see a long way,” he said. “And the higher you are, the less likely deer are going to see you.”

By the time he was settled in, there was good daylight. Darrell’s stand overlooked a low pine hill where the timber had been thinned three years earlier. The hillside was a mix of small, thick pines and larger pines up to the size tree he was hunting from. An old woods road crossed the hill.

At about 7:25, two does crested the hill coming toward his stand on the run. Darrell saw them coming, flashing glimpses of deer through the pines, before he heard them.

“I saw two does come trotting along the old road straight at me. Then they turned and came across the hill broadside going to my left. I leaned forward in my stand to keep from scraping the bark with my back and turned to my left. I propped my left foot against the stand to brace my elbow on my knee.”

Darrell picked up the deer in his 3X9 scope, and when the deer crossed a little opening 60 yards away, he touched off a shot at the bigger of the two deer.

At the shot, the doe dropped and slid to a stop. Darrell could see the white of her belly from his tree.

Without really thinking about it, Darrell instinctively chambered another round into his bolt-action Weatherby 25-06. In a few minutes more it would prove very fortunate that he did so.

“I had a deer down, and I thought that was it for the morning,” said Darrell. “But I was going to sit there to give my friends a chance to hunt. I don’t like them to come in on me too early while I’m hunting, and I don’t do it to them.”

Five minutes later he thought he heard a twig crack behind him. He slowly turned his head to look over his right shoulder. The woods were still, and he heard nothing more. But when he turned back around, there, from out of nowhere, stood a big buck—a huge buck!

“I don’t know where the deer came from,” said Darrell. “I didn’t see him or hear him. When I turned around, he was just there. Since the does were running, he may have been chasing them.”

The buck was about 50 yards away, quartering away from Darrell and looking toward the doe laying in the grass. The big-bodied buck was majestic in the early morning light with its neck bulled out in full rut and tall antlers towering over its head.

“I slowly brought my rifle up to my shoulder,” said Darrell. “I didn’t make any noise, but just as I could see the deer in the scope, he turned around and looked straight up at me. Boy you talk about horns! When he turned his head, I could really see them.”

The buck, however, was standing in a spot where a branch blocked Darrell’s view of its chest.

“I didn’t know how big the deer was, but I knew he was big,” said Darrell. “One or two steps in either direction and the deer would be out of sight. And if he made me out, I knew he was about to be gone. I put the crosshairs dead center in the middle of his back and pulled the trigger.”

At the shot, the buck lunged forward out of sight into some small pines.

Darrell thought he heard the deer hit a tree and fall, and because he could hear nothing running, he was fairly certain the deer was down.

“I sat there for 10 minutes trying to be still,” said Darrell. “I knew if I got down too soon, I could scare him off. Everything had happened so fast that I hadn’t really been nervous. But then I got to thinking about how big the rack had looked, and I started getting excited.”

Finally, he could stand the wait no longer. He climbed down from the tree as quietly as he could and began to sneak down the road to the spot where the buck had been standing. His gun was ready in case the deer jumped up, and when he reached the spot where the buck had been standing, he only dared to glance down long enough to notice raked pine straw where the deer had scratched off in the pine straw.

He took just a few steps more in the direction the buck had run and then he saw it—heavy beams and long tines rising above the bushes. He had his buck.

It was an incredible rack—with 14 points (11 scoreable points) and beams well over 2 feet long.

Darrell knew where Steve was hunting, and despite their policy of letting the other hunter hunt, this buck was worth breaking the rule.

“When I walked up on him, Steve said, ‘I know you’ve killed a big one,'” he said.

“I said, ‘How do you know?'”

“He said, ‘Because you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t. How big is he?'”

“At first I only showed him the doe,” said Darrell. “But he kept looking around going, ‘Where is the big one?'”

“When I finally showed him the buck, he couldn’t believe how big it was.”

The two men like to have never got that deer out of the woods. But after a considerable amount of heaving and shoving, the 240-lb. buck was loaded into Darrell’s truck.

It was an impressive set of antlers protruding from the back of Darrell’s Toyota 4X4. When they pulled into the yard of his home, his daughter Tracy looked out the window and thought there were three deer in the truck bed.

They drove to Dublin with the buck on the tailgate and were stopping traffic using the king-sized rack.

“I knew it was a good buck,” said Darrell. “But I didn’t know what a Boone & Crockett looked like. But people kept saying it was a Boone & Crockett.”

It was going to be close. The buck was green-scored at 170 7/8 inches, just over the 170 minimum for listing in the record book.

Darrell spent the 60-day drying period worrying over whether the buck would make it or not.

After the required drying period, the buck was measured by official B&C scorer Dick Whittington, the former region supervisor for DNR Game Management in the Fort Valley office.

Darrell’s buck had an inside spread of 20 4/8 inches; beams 28 5/8 inches and 29 1/8 inches long; and four tines that measured between 10 and 11 2/8 inches long. The rack grossed 177 7/8 inches and after 7 1 /8 inches in deductions, it scored 170 6/8. Darrell’s buck became the first B&C ever taken in Laurens County and Georgia’s 71st Book Buck.

Darrell wasn’t supposed to get another deer mounted.

“No more room on the walls,” his wife Sheila had said.

There were already five trophy mounts on the walls of their living room and two boars, too. Sheila relented, however. It’s pretty hard to refuse when the deer is the largest taken in the state. The buck was mounted by Artistik Taxidermy, and the record-book buck now was the most prominent position in the room between a 9-pointer and a 10-pointer—Darrell’s trophies from other years.

Darrell, incidentally, wasn’t a subscriber to GON last fall and was not eligible for Truck-Buck.

He subscribes now.

Laurens County Best Bucks Of All-Time

1170 6/8 Darrell Evans1992LaurensGunView 
2165 7/8 Stevie Drew2020LaurensGunView 
3187 7/8 (NT)Elliot Harrison1982LaurensGun
4162 3/8 Jeff Hall2004LaurensGunView 
5161 7/8 Phillip Flanders1988LaurensGunView 
6161 4/8 Robb Leckie2023LaurensGunView 
7161 2/8 B.J. Taylor2001LaurensGun
8157 6/8 Ronnie Bates2002LaurensGunView 
9180 3/8 (NT)Richard Dailey Jr.2018LaurensGunView 
10156 4/8 Mitch Padgett2017LaurensBowView 

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