Legendary Union County Bucks

A 15-pointer killed in 1969 is rediscovered and measured, and it now holds the all-time Union County record.

Sheldon Henderson | July 27, 2022

There’s a new No. 1 buck in the Union County rankings, and it’s from days gone by. This 15-pointer was killed in 1969 by the late Jack Ingram, whose son Bart got it remounted and officially measured. The buck nets 158 4/8 typical and 180 2/8 non-typical.

The mountain counties of northern Georgia are not generally recognized as trophy-buck counties when compared to other areas of the state. The areas south of the mountains produce generally larger deer in both body size and antlers. This being said though, there have been some mighty impressive bucks killed in the mountains in years gone by.

Modern-day deer hunting began in the mountains in 1940 through the efforts of Arthur Woody. Arthur Woody, a U.S. Forest Service ranger, purchased deer in the late 1920s and started a restocking program. Eventually, the Georgia Game and Fish Commission got on board and started helping the Forest Service with the program. The first deer hunt was conducted in 1940 with several big bucks killed on the Noontootla Game Preserve, which later became known as the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

In the early 1980s while working for the U.S. Forest Service, I set about trying to find the highest-scoring buck ever killed in Union County. I asked all the older hunters I could find about who had killed big bucks in the past. I got several leads on big bucks and was fortunate to get to take pictures and measure some very large-antlered bucks killed in years past. 

While not a certified measurer, which means you’ve completed a week-long class, I knew how to measure racks using the Boone & Crockett scoring system. Most of the deer I measured were in the 130- to 140-inch class. 

The oldest one was killed in 1947 by Dixie Roberts. Dixie was just 25 years old at the time he killed his big buck. He and some of his friends were hunting on what is now known as Coopers Creek WMA. One of Dixie’s friends, Herschel Parham, had found sign of a big buck in the Buckhorn Branch area. Buckhorn Branch gets its name from long ago when hunters would camp there. They would butcher deer and throw the heads in a pile nearby. There were so many buck skulls in the pile that it was eventually named Buckhorn Branch.

Dixie had set up camp on Buckhorn Branch the day before opening morning and spent the night there by himself. His friends were to come and join Dixie on opening morning. When they arrived early that morning, Dixie had already left to go hunting. Herschel and his son, Herbert, proceeded to hunt on up the mountain above camp. Later that morning Herschel heard a shot lower down the mountain below them. Around noon, Herschel and his son, Herbert, started back toward camp for lunch. A short way above camp they saw where someone had dragged a deer down the slope in the direction of camp. When they arrived, there was Dixie with one of the biggest deer they had ever seen, a huge 12-pointer. Dixie and some other hunters had cut a gambrel stick and placed it in the rear legs of the buck. They then tried to hang the deer from a nearby tree. The deer was so heavy they were only able to lift it about 6 feet off the ground. The buck’s neck and head were still touching the ground. They estimated it weighed between 250 and 300 pounds, a very large buck for the mountains.

This picture was taken in 1984 of Dixie Roberts with the rack of his buck. Dixie killed this Union County 12-point in 1947 when he was 25 years old.

After things calmed down a little, Dixie related his story to his friends. Dixie had borrowed a single-shot 16 gauge shotgun for his hunting trip. He didn’t have any shells for the gun and bought three slugs, or pumpkin balls as he called them, from a local store before he left for his hunting trip. Back in those days the little country stores would sell shotgun shells individually. He had hunted all morning without seeing any deer and was making his way back to camp around noon. Dixie was in an area known as the Shope Fields when this huge buck came crashing down the mountain toward him. He fired a single shot and hit the deer in the neck, dropping the big buck in its tracks. It turned out that Dixie only needed one of the shotgun shells he had purchased.

About 37 years after Dixie killed his big buck, I went to see him and photograph the rack of his big buck. Dixie told me that after he had killed the buck some man had offered him $25 for the rack of the buck. Dixie said he had two small children at home and his wife was expecting another one. The $25 would have helped a lot in those days, but he turned the man’s offer down and kept the antlers. After so many years the antlers had dried out from hanging outside on Dixie’s barn. The rack still had a gross score of 148 on the Boone and Crockett scale. Up until this time this was the highest-scoring buck I had been able to locate from Union County. In just a few days that was going to change big time.

Later that summer of 1984, I received a call from Tony Harkins. Tony knew I was searching for big bucks killed in Union County. Tony had found a large buck that had been killed years ago in the Suches area of Union County. Tony had stopped at a gas station on the south side of Gainesville. Inside the station hung an old mounted deer head with 15 long points and a wide spread. Jack Ingram, the owner of the station, told Tony he had killed the buck in Union County back in the 1960s. A few days later Tony and I made the trip to Gainesville to photograph and measure the rack of the buck. Jack related his story of killing the giant buck.

Jack told us he had been invited to go hunting with George and Roy Gooch on their property near Suches in Union County. Jack had made friends with them through working with them. Jack had never hunted there before and was unfamiliar with the area. On opening morning, the Gooch brothers directed Jack to a gap in the mountains above their farm. Jack proceeded to the gap and took a stand there; it wasn’t long until the big buck appeared. Jack killed the buck but couldn’t believe what had just happened. There before him lay the biggest buck he had ever seen.

The Gooch boys heard Jack shoot and made their way to him. When they got there, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing either. They hadn’t seen the buck before and were amazed at how big it was. The buck was a main-frame 12-pointer with three sticker points and a 21-inch outside spread. Jack told us he had killed a lot of big bucks after this one but none quite this big. 

Tony and I measured the antlers and came up with a gross score of around 183 Boone and Crockett points. This was the biggest buck that we knew of that was ever killed in Union County even until now. Years later, Tony and I both went by Jack’s station, but both Jack and the old mounted buck were gone.

This is Tony Harkins, a friend of the author’s who went with him in 1984 to see and measure the Jack Ingram buck, a Union County 15-pointer killed in 1969.

About 37 years after measuring Jack’s buck, Daryl Kirby, editor of GON magazine, was talking to me about an article I was writing, “The Slaughter Mountain Mystery Buck,” which was about a big Union County buck encountered in 1984. I happened to mention to Daryl the Jack Ingram buck and sent him a picture from 1984. After some extensive digging, Daryl finally made contact with Jack’s son, Bart.

Jack passed away in 2004, but Bart still had the antlers of Jack’s big buck. Bart had the antlers remounted, and the rack was measured by certified scorer Scott Frazier, a DNR biologist in the Gainesville office. The buck officially scores 158 4/8 typical and 180 2/8 non-typical. To compare typical vs. non-typical scores to rank them, for instance in County-by-County rankings, you divide the net typical score by the B&C minimum for the all-time record book, which is 170. For Jack’s buck, the typical score is 93.2% of 170. Divide the non-typical score of 180 2/8 by the 195 non-typical record-book minimum, and you get 92.4%. It’s close either way, but Jack’s buck scores a little “better” as a typical. 

In talking with Bart, he told me one of the points on the rack had about 2 inches broken off. This must have happened after Tony and I measured the antlers in 1984. Even so, Jack Ingram’s buck now holds the record for Union County’s highest-scoring buck ever recorded.

Big bucks continue to be taken in Union County, just this past season I measured another buck from the Suches area that scored around 147. 

Who knows, maybe someday Union County will produce a buck that surpasses the minimum score to make the Boone and Crockett record book?


Union County Top Bucks Of All-Time

1158 4/8 Jack Ingram1969UnionGunView 
2153 3/8 Billy Chastain1988UnionGun
3152 7/8 Jamie Stanford1997UnionGunView 
4148 3/8 Stewart Keen2014UnionGunView 
5143 4/8 Caleb Beise2019UnionGunView 
6142 7/8 Randolph Young1995UnionGun
7141 2/8 John Wood1995UnionGunView 
8139 2/8 Todd Brown1997UnionGun
9139 Rodney Robertson1963UnionGun
10135 7/8 Richard Griggs2017UnionGunView 



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