Marion County Dog-Drive Buck Makes B&C Book
A Boone & Crockett buck killed in front of dogs? What a way for Butch Moore to start 2005 New Years Day.
You know how rare a Boone & Crockett buck is, right? To kill a buck that is listed in the all-time record book takes some doing, otherwise, the book would be so heavy, you and two of your friends couldn’t pick it up.
I mean, it’s not every season, or for the vast majority of us, any time in our lives that we even see a buck with more than 170 inches of antler unless it’s hanging on some wall. Consider that during the average Georgia deer season, with hundreds of thousands of us in the woods chasing a herd of better than a million whitetails, there are two or three record-book-size bucks taken. Last season in the Peach State, two bucks made the 170-inch minimum. A bunch of deer scored in the 150s, and several even reached well into the 160s, but the 170s? That’s lofty company.
Now think about this. Only three times has it been confirmed that a Boone & Crockett Record Book buck was killed on a dog drive in this state. Ever. The last two were taken in the 1960s, before I was even thought of.
Last New Year’s Day, Butch Moore of Richland got a trophy he won’t ever forget on a dog hunt in Marion County with a giant 13-point buck that netted 177 4/8.
“I happened to hit the right spot,” Butch said of his luck. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
I dog hunt, and I have seen some really nice bucks taken, but there are two things I know. First, I may have seen one that even approaches 170 inches of antler. Second, muy grande rarely gets seen in front of a pack of Walker hounds.
Nope. The big boys are typically shot when they get up to slip around behind the dogs, or when they hear the first sounds of humans invading, get up to slip to safety, and happen across a stander.
But Butch’s Marion County monster got jumped twice in two days in the same bedding area, finally making a mistake after a nearly two-hour race on day two.
The big buck got jumped on New Year’s Eve in an oak grove, touching off a long race that left hunters headed to the skinning pole empty handed. One member of the club finally got a look at the deer that day after a long race, but the deer was too far for a shotgun loaded with buckshot. After a while, the buck did what most big bucks do to dogs: he lost them. He swam the right body of water, made a funny turn, got way ahead of the dogs, or whatever, but the hunt ended Buck 1, Hunters 0.
On New Year’s Day, the hunters were at it again. That morning, a group of 15 or 20 showed up to try their luck again. One pack of hounds was turned out in the same place as the buck was jumped the day before, and it didn’t take long for things to get rolling.
Butch took a stand on a club road that left the pavement and went into the woods of Tri-County Wildlife Management club, a long-time deer-dogging club in Marion County.
Butch is a short-haul truck driver, logging 1,500 miles or more every week, hauling rock, dirt, cement, or trees all over southwest Georgia. On his off days, he likes to hunt, especially for deer or turkeys. Butch hunts with the Tri-County group occasionally when he’s not still hunting on the land that borders the club.
The road Butch was on went straight across a clearcut that was set in short pines. Where the clearcut ended, a stand of tall, mature pines ran for about 80 yards before opening back into another stand of short pines. The road then dropped down a hill toward a beaver pond.
When the first dogs opened on the trail, it was about 9:30 in the morning. For the next couple of hours, hunters stood surrounding the block of woods, anxiously waiting to see if the deer the dogs were running was the same giant they had seen the day before.
The race went on and on with the deer taking the dogs on a full-cry, throaty-voiced ride around the woods.
“The way that deer ran, we thought it was a doe,” Butch said. “It went around and around.”
Butch knew that on a dog drive, the big bucks that do happen to get jumped by hounds often run as straight and as fast as their legs will carry them until they put a country mile between themselves and impending danger, or they work just hard enough to stay in front. On the other hand, a doe will many times make large circles until she finds a gap in the line of standers through which to make an escape.
“That deer came out on the hill, turned and went back down the beaver pond, and came back three or four different times,” Butch said. “The way the race sounded, it wanted to come out where I was.”
After leading the Walkers and beagles on a harrowing chase, the buck tried to slip by the standers and move on to safer ground. Unfortunately, he got too close to Butch, who was looking from the small pines toward the stand of big trees.
“When I first saw the deer, I knew he was big, but he was in some dark shade, and I couldn’t see his left beam,” Butch said.
The deer was running, but when he reached an opening only 35 or 40 yards from where Butch stood, he stopped and looked at Butch.
“When he stopped and looked at me it was like he was saying, Butch said.
He waited to see where the dogs went before going to look for the buck. It didn’t take long before Butch knew his shot was deadly.
“The dogs went about 40 or 50 yards and hushed,” Butch said.
Anybody who has hunted with hounds much will tell you that when it comes to deer, the nose knows. When a dog’s nose comes to a dead deer, the barking stops and the blood trailing starts.
Fortunately, Butch walked right to where he thought his deer had gone and found a bruiser of a buck on the ground. The other hunters knew the race was over, and thinking they might have killed the buck they jumped the day before, began driving toward where the shot had been.
“The first one that looked at it didn’t hesitate,” Butch said. “He said, Butch laughed. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Word travels fast about a big buck. Heck, even some folks that live down the road from the hunting club soon showed up to see the deer. Everybody was snapping photos and wanting to see how the buck scored.
“I haven’t ever seen so many cameras and tape measures come out of truck tool boxes in my life,” Butch quipped. “They were all trying to figure out what he would score.”
Green-score measurements by a couple of folks put the deer in the 170s. Official scorer Bill Cooper confirmed that after the mandatory 60-day drying period when he put the tape to Butch’s deer. The buck actually grossed nearly 190 inches, but a split tine and a couple of other imperfections knocked nearly a foot off the final tally. Nonetheless, the buck easily made the 170-inch minimum, earning it a spot in the Boone & Crockett book.
The 13-pointer had everything it takes for a record-class set of antlers. The buck had long, sweeping main beams, tall tines, and plenty of mass. The left beam measured 27 5/8 inches, and the right beam went 27 7/8. The deer’s brow tines were mismatched by 2 6/8 inches. However, the deer had incredible G2s and G3s, with the second points going 11 1/8 and 11 inches even, while the third points stretched the tape to 11 2/8 and 11 1/8 inches. The perfectly matched G4s were 8 6/8 inches, and the G5s scored 3 1/8 and 5 5/8. The buck’s rack had more than 37 inches in circumference measurements, and its inside spread was better than 17 inches.
Butch said the deer’s feet were as small as any he’s seen on a big buck. However, he said the mass of bone on the deer’s head more than makes up for his little hooves.
“He had little feet,” Butch said. “But he had a whole lot of headgear.”
Butch cleaned the deer on his own, and one look at the contents of the stomach told Butch what he already thought. The buck had been having a field day dining on water-oak acorns.
Butch talked about the rarity of killing a tremendous buck in front of dogs, knowing only himself and two other Georgia hunters have put a dog-hunting buck in the Boone & Crockett book.
“I think it’s neat that it’s just me and two others, and the other two bucks were killed in 1962 and 1969,” Butch said.
He admires deer, loving to hunt them from a treestand with rifle or bow, or from the ground during a dog drive. Butch is aware that hunt stories like his don’t come along often, because big bucks get that way through their cunning.
“They get to be that size for a reason,” he said.
Butch knew the big buck had been around the block a time or two, and he said to see such a deer in front of dogs was surprising. He knows the odds of it aren’t very great, but he’s proud to have had the opportunity.
“It wasn’t his first rodeo,” Butch said. “But it was his last.”
Butch knows what he has on his wall, and says after decades of hunting Marion County, he knows the area produces some incredible deer. In fact, Butch says the Boone & Crockett buck he killed looks very similar in size to one he shot at several years ago.
“I’ve been telling people for a long time that there are some really big deer in this area,” Butch said. “That’s not the only huge buck around here.”
The deer garnered a lot of attention, and deservedly so. It isn’t every day somebody kills a buck that size. Butch was featured on the front page of the local newspaper and has been contacted for stories that will appear in other publications. Even nine months after he killed the deer, people are coming by to take a look at it.
While we were talking about his incredible deer, Butch said, “hold on.” I could hear him talking to somebody. A mechanic from the trucking company Butch drives for stopped by just to see the buck. He returned to the phone, nonchalant about the idea that somebody stopped by to see the deer. It’s not the first time that has happened, and it won’t be the last.
“People want to see him all the time,” Butch said. “Pictures don’t do him justice.”
Butch credits his grandfather with much of what he has learned over a lifetime of hunting.
“I walked the woods a lot with my granddaddy,” Butch said. “He taught me everything.”
Butch said he learned his marksmanship and woodsmanship from his grandfather, who got him started as a hunter five decades ago.
“He gave me a little .22 rifle with a broken stock,” Butch said. “I taped it together, and we hunted rabbits and squirrels.”
From there, Butch graduated to a single-shot 12 gauge, and eventually to other guns. Over the years, his love of hunting has stayed the same, even when his target species got bigger. Mostly, what he recalls from his boyhood is the healthy respect his grandfather taught him for the outdoors, and for guns.
“Gun safety was number one with him,” Butch said. “He wouldn’t even let me load the gun until it was time to shoot it at something.”
Though Butch has other deer on his wall, there is nothing he has killed that measures up to the 177 4/8-inch Marion County bruiser he killed on New Year’s Day. He’s got some trophies to be sure, but one like last season’s will last a man several lifetimes.
“I told the guys that was a heck of a way to start the new year,” Butch said.
Now, he’s getting ready for another deer season. He has been doing a little scouting, and letting his trail cameras do a little scouting for him. So far, he likes what he sees, and he’s hoping to accomplish another first this coming season.
“I’ve got trail-camera pictures of two nice bucks, so I’m hoping I can get one of them during bow season,” Butch said. “It would be my first with a bow.”
Butch has been hunting since he was nine years old. He’ll be 60 when you read this. He reckons that is a pretty solid indicator of how rare a buck this size is.
It’s like they say, once you get the first one, the rest fall like dominoes. Does that apply to record-book bucks?
“It only took me 50 years to kill a Boone & Crockett buck,” Butch laughed. “Who knows, maybe I’ll get two this year.”
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