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One-In-A-Million Meriwether County B&C

For 20-year-old Charles Johnson, being in the right place at the right time meant the trophy of a lifetime.

Brad Bailey | October 12, 1989

The odds of shooting a Boone & Crockett buck in Georgia are astronomical at best. In the past two seasons more than 900,000 hunters and countless millions of man-hours spent deer hunting have resulted in just three B&C bucks. The latest B&C buck was killed in Meriwether County by a hunter from Grantville, Charles “Shotgun” Johnson. Charles beat the long odds for taking a B&C by being in the right place at the right time for a one-in-million buck.

The right place for Charles was a Meriwether County lease. The right time was Saturday morning, Nov. 19, and Charles was hunting the property as a guest with Mike Smith and Mike’s uncle Richard Smith.

Charles, who was 20 years old at the time, had never hunted the property before, and at about 7 a.m., he climbed up a ladder stand overlooking a hardwood draw. He could not have picked a better spot.

At about 7:45, he watched as a doe stepped into view. Charles was shooting a Winchester 7mm magnum with a Simmons 3X9 scope, and as he watched the doe through the scope, he saw a huge buck walk out behind the doe and stand at the edge of a creek. Even from 80 yards away, Charles could easily see that the buck had an enormous rack, both tall and wide and bristling with points.

Charles flipped the safety off and put the crosshairs on the buck’s shoulder.

“I tried not to think about how big he was, so I wouldn’t get too excited,” he said.

Charles’ 14-pointer had an inside spread of 17 inches and four tines that exceeded 10 inches; the longest was 12 4/8 inches long.

The deer was quartering toward Charles, and at the first shot, the buck did nothing. When Charles touched off a second round, the buck sprang forward and ran about 30 yards and stopped. Charles put the crosshairs on him again and got off two more shots before the deer disappeared in the brush.

Charles sat on his stand reloading his rifle and trying to calm down. He was shaking from the excitement. After five minutes, he climbed down to look for any sign that he had hit the buck. Amazingly, after all the shooting, the doe that had been with the buck stood 30 yards away and watched Charles climb out of his ladder stand.

After 10 minutes of searching for hair or blood, Charles was beginning to wonder whether he had touched the big buck or not. He had found big tracks but no blood. Mike Smith and Richard Smith came to help look, but they could find no blood where the deer had been standing.

“You must have missed him,” they said.

Charles refused to give up, and he continued to search in the direction the buck had gone. He pushed his way through a briar patch and up to a barbed-wire fence. When he heard the fence wire pop, he looked up to see his buck jump the fence and then stumble and fall across a 4-foot-wide creek 50 yards away. Charles shouldered his rifle, but because he wasn’t sure where Mike and Richard were, he did not shoot. Meanwhile the buck staggered to its feet and ran into a thicket of vines and briars.

The deer had laid down next to the fence, and when Charles walked up the fence line and found the bed, “it looked like you had poured blood out of a bucket,” he said. There was now no question that the buck had been hit.

Charles and his two friends waited impatiently for 15 minutes and then started to trail the buck again. About 200 yards along the trail, they heard the buck jump up and run, but they didn’t see him. Again, they sat down and waited 30 long minutes, torn between wanting to go after the buck and knowing they ought to let it bleed out.

When they resumed the trail, they found tracking difficult. The blood had diminished to a drop now and then, and they struggled to keep on the track. They found that the deer had left the briar thicket, crossed an area of planted pines, then stopped at a fence at the edge of a house and yard. The blood has pooled on the ground where the buck had apparently waited before skirting the yard, crossing a road and disappearing into another tract of thick planted pines 12 to 15 feet tall.

The three men returned to their trucks and put their rifles up before resuming the search. Only Mike Smith carried a gun, a youth model 30-30. When they entered the pines, they again jumped the buck from his bed and heard it run off. The wide-spaced tracks showed that the deer had run down an old road, then the deer had slowed down and turned back into the cover of the dense rows of young pines.

The trio tracking the buck began to check row after row of the pines trying to spot the buck. Finally, they saw him laying in the pine straw, and as the weakened buck tried to get to its feet, Mike shot him again through the shoulder. After a 1 1/2-mile chase that took nearly four hours, the search had ended.

“I didn’t think that it might be a record-sized buck,” said Charles. “I was just relieved to finally have him down.”

Charles’ first four shots had hit the buck three times: once in the neck, once high in the back and once through the back legs. The rutting buck’s neck measured 24 1/2 inches in circumference behind the ears. Incredibly, Charles reported, the 7mm mag round that had hit the buck in the neck had penetrated only 2 inches.

Charles’ buck was recognized at this year’s Buckarama as the biggest typical buck of the 1988-89 deer season.

The buck was an outstanding typical 10-pointer with four abnormal points for a total of 14 points. The massive rack had an inside spread of 17 inches, and four of the tines exceed 10 inches in length, with the longest measuring 12 4/8 inches long.

The buck was never weighed because the scales were broken at the cooler where it was taken, but laying in the bed of a Toyota 4X4, the buck stretched from the cab to the edge of the tailgate. It’s estimated weight was over 200 pounds, and it took four men to move it into the cooler.

Understandably, the big buck attracted a lot of attention, some of it unwanted. Charles reports that twice he was offered money for the cape and rack, including $1,000 by a “man from Atlanta who wanted to enter the rack in a big-deer contest.” Charles wasn’t interested in giving up the trophy of a lifetime.

After the required 60-day drying period, the rack was scored by Bob Monroe of the Georgia Game and Fish Division. The rack scored 170 B&C inches, the exact minimum for record book listing and rated as Georgia’s only typical book buck of the 1988-89 season.

 

Meriwether County Best Bucks Of All-Time

Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo
1 173 2/8 John Heard 1973 Meriwether Found
2 170 Charles Johnson 1988 Meriwether Gun View 
3 167 7/8 A.C. “Pete” Heath Jr. 1995 Meriwether Gun View 
4 190 5/8 (NT) Emmett Hill 2008 Meriwether Gun View 
5 162 1/8 Ken Shockley 1987 Meriwether Gun
6 161 4/8 Thomas Fuller 1971 Meriwether Gun
7 159 6/8 Keith Chambers 1991 Meriwether Gun
8 159 5/8 Clinton Wilson 1977 Meriwether Gun
9 158 7/8 Nathan Fincher 2011 Meriwether Gun View 
10 158 6/8 Lance Fuller 2011 Meriwether Gun View 

 

 

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