More How The Truck-Buck Weeks Were Won: 2021-2022 Deer Season
Here’s the stories on second half of the 2022 Truck-Buck Shoot-Out qualifiers.
GON Staff | June 30, 2022
Seventeen weekly winners and four hunters in our wildcard spots will soon shoot it out at the Ag-Pro Outdoor Blast on July 31. The second-best shot will win a Firminator G-3.
And then, the last man, woman or child standing—there are three kids in the Shoot-Out this year—that last person on the Shoot-Out stage will win a new truck from John Megel Chevy.
All of GON’s Shoot-Out qualifiers are already winners. First, they’re part of the GON community, helping support the future of hunting and fishing in Georgia—that’s certainly worth something! They all killed a great buck last season to earn a spot in the Shoot-Out, and they’ve all won great prize packages. The four weekly winners during bow season have already earned Mathews V6 bows, the Week 5 winner gets one of the new CVA .45 caliber Paramount rifles, and the 12 weekly winners during gun season each get a Savage Arms 110 Storm deer rifle. All weekly winners also earned a prize package from Hunter Safety Systems, 4S Wildlife Solutions and Realtree.
Last month we featured the first half of the Truck-Buck winners. Now, let’s meet the second half of this year’s Shoot-Out field.
Week 10: Don Chandler
Date: Nov. 17
Net Score: 149 4/8 Typical
Don Chandler has been killing big bucks—and entered them in Truck-Buck—for years. In fact, Don remembers entering the first year of GON’s contest. That’s when the hunters had to bring the buck, right after it was killed, to the GON’s office, which was in Marietta at the time, and get the rack scored behind the building. GON certainly got a lot smarter about how to make it convenient to enter a buck in our contest!
Don is an active outdoorsman and conservationist, having served on many hunting and conservation boards and currently as the Treasurer of the Georgia Wildlife Federation. During the prime rut period of mid November last season, Don spent time visiting and hunting with friends in Worth County.
“I was hunting on a powerline that had a 3-acre food plot,” Don said. “I had seen a good 8-point just after sunrise but elected to pass on him in that he looked young. A few minutes later several does entered the plot and began to feed. Not long after, a young buck came into the field and began harassing the does, which caused them to leave.
“All was quiet for the next hour. Around 9:30 a doe came running across the powerline with two large bucks right on her heels. They ran within 100 yards of my stand and stopped. I shot the larger of the two bucks. At the shot the buck dropped in his tracks. Due to the height of the vegetation, I was unable to see the downed buck. I waited 10 minutes to make sure that he was finished, then climbed out of the stand. The buck was a typical 6×6 and weighed 208 pounds live weight. He was very run down from the rut. I feel fortunate to have harvested such a magnificent buck.”
Don’s buck netted 149 4/8.
Week 11: Julianna Breeding
Date: Nov. 24
Net Score: 158 5/8 Typical
There are deer hunters who spend small fortunes in hopes of taking a big buck. They lease thousands of acres of land, plant high-protein foods to grow big racks, install cameras to pattern deer and put out feeders to attract deer. During every waking moment they fret over what else they might do to get that wall hanger.
Julianna Breeding is probably thinking: “What is all that fuss about? Deer hunting is easy.”
The 15-year-old will join a host of Georgia’s top deer hunters on July 31 hoping to win a new Chevrolet pickup truck in the GON Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. Her path there was much different than the others.
On the day before Thanksgiving last year, the then 14-year-old 9th-grader from Senoia walked across the street with her older brother to a 100-acre hay field her father cuts for someone. She lay down in the fescue field. An hour later, she had shot a 12-point typical that scored 158 5/8. The Week 11 Truck-Buck winner is the No. 6 buck ever killed in Coweta County, according to GON’s Georgia Deer Records.
No tree stand, no special food plots, no game cameras and no feeders. Heck, she didn’t even want to go hunting that day. She was tired, and her plans were to curl up and read a book.
“I was tired and really wanted to stay home that afternoon,” she said. “My brother told me if I went, I wouldn’t have to get up the next morning to go. That sounded pretty good, so I went.”
The field had some scrapes around its outer edges. In fact, her 22-year-old brother, Jeb, had shot a 9-point buck at one of the scrapes just two weeks before.
That afternoon, they soon were watching five does and a 4-point. Julianna tried to shoot the 4-point, but the small buck would never turn so she could get a good shot. She waited.
Finally, the big buck with a massive rack entered the field and started following the does. When the buck left the does to check out the scrape, Julianna was ready. She steadied her 30-06, squeezed the trigger and dropped the buck in his tracks.
“It was in a hayfield that I have cut for a neighbor for about 15 years,” her dad, Jason said. “He lets us hunt there. It’s just hay crops, no food plots. We had never even seen that deer before. My daughter didn’t even want to go hunting that day. She begrudgingly went.
“They called me to come over and bring the truck because Julianna shot a deer. I drove over, and I could see the antlers sticking up over the grass. We counted 12 points.”
Even at her young age, Julianna is no deer hunting rookie.
“It was my fourth buck and my biggest,” she said. “I killed an 8-point when I was 10.”
Winning a week of Truck-Buck made her somewhat of a celebrity among her friends.
“My friends couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They thought it was pretty cool. I think some of the boys were probably a little jealous. One boy who hunts has never killed a deer. He made me show him the pictures to prove it.”
Jason said he isn’t sure where the big buck came from.
“I don’t really know,” he said. “They are building some subdivisions around here and maybe some deer are getting pushed out of some of their traditional places.”
Julianna says the only way the buck could be even more special to her is if it led to her winning the new Chevy truck in the GON Truck-Buck Shoot-Out.
“I’ve been practicing a lot with my pellet gun,” she said.
Her dad said to not count her out.
“She’s a good shot like her mama.”
Week 12: Burns Holton
Date: Nov. 27
Net Score: 140 0/8 Typical
During the weekend of the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out, Burns Holton will turn 16 years old. Think he’s eyeing that brand new truck?
Burns was 15 last deer season when he killed a super 10-point buck in Lee County. Some good fortune shined the hunter’s way—like so often in deer hunting—when it came to Burns getting a chance at this particular buck on that particular day.
“My brother and I were talking about which stand to sit in, and he sat in the stand that I was wanting to sit in. I ended up sitting in my dad’s stand because he wanted to watch the Auburn-Alabama game,” Burns said.
“I had already seen a few deer when a doe ran out with two big bucks behind her. I shot the bigger of the two, which I had on camera all year. I made a good shot, and he went down 15 yards from where I shot him and fell in the swamp. I had to wade out in the swamp to recover him.”
Burns’s brother, 14-year-old Thomas Holton, didn’t come up empty-handed last season either. During the final week of the season, Thomas killed a 9-pointer that scored 124 3/8, earning him a spot in GON’s Youth Big-Buck Contest Shoot-Out.
Runner-Up Wildcard: Justin West
Net Score: 155 1/8
Date: Oct. 21, Week 6
The Runner-Up-Wildcard is a spot in the Shoot-Out each year for the highest-scoring buck of the season that doesn’t win a week outright. If it weren’t for a 190-inch non-typical monster killed by Andy Croft, this year’s Runner-Up Wildcard winner would have won Week 6.
Justin West earned a wildcard spot with a suburban Atlanta bow-killed giant that netted 155 1/8.
“I’ve been watching this deer for the past three or four years but have never had an encounter with him while in the woods,” Justin said. “It was a rainy day, so I wasn’t planning on hunting that afternoon, but the rain let off, so I figured I’d see if the break in the weather would get the deer moving.
“As I was walking to my stand, I saw this deer moving along a scrape line, so I found some ground cover and stayed put. Rather than risk him busting me, I decided not to get into my stand.”
Instead, Justin nestled in against an uprooted tree to get some good cover. It was right along a scrape line.
“Nothing moved for the longest time, until I saw some movement around 6:45 from the direction I last saw the deer. I caught a glimpse of him working back toward the scrape line, and I was able to draw my bow when he was behind a tree. He made a scrape and continued down the scrape line, where I released the arrow and made a perfect shot quartering toward me.”
Justin is in the Shoot-Out for a chance at the truck and Firminator. He also earned a Wildcard package that includes a $250 Agri Supply gift card, a Rugged Road Outdoor coolers, mineral and attractant from 4S Wildlife Solutions, an HSS harness and a Realtree Shoot-Out shirt.
Week 13: Brady Vaughn
Date: Dec. 4
Net Score: 163 2/8 Typical
Brady Vaughn isn’t your typical big-buck slayer. He doesn’t get to deer hunt that often. The small farm where he hunts isn’t intensively managed for big deer.
He describes where he hunts as a pasture at the top end of a swamp near some chicken houses. In fact, it had become so overgrown in recent years that it had reached the point he almost couldn’t hunt there anymore.
All the not-so-promising hunting spot did for the infrequent hunter last season was provide the No. 3 buck of all-time from Hart County. The 163 2/8-inch 10-point won Week 13 in GON’s Truck-Buck contest, and he’s headed to the Shoot-Out on July 31 at the Ag-Pro GON Outdoor Blast.
“An older family lets me hunt there,” the 35-year-old salvage salesman from Danielsville said. “I’ve been hunting there about 10 years. The husband passed away, and the wife still lets me hunt there. I’m the only one she allows to hunt. I try to help her out when she needs some things done.”
While the place isn’t typically a big-buck producer, Brady describes it as a fun place to hunt.
“When I go, I always see a lot of deer,” he said. “It’s always does and small bucks. I’ve never even put a camera up there. I just don’t fool with them.”
Brady said the place has grown up so badly in the past few years, something had to be done before he could hunt there last season.
“In October, I got my uncle and some of his workers to bring a skid steer in there to cut me some shooting lanes where I could see,” he said. “My uncle walked down in there in the woods and found some huge rubs. He put up a camera and a few days later he sent me a picture of this deer. It wasn’t a very good photo, but I could tell it was huge buck.”
The only problem was that work just wouldn’t let Brady get away often enough to see if he could spot the deer again. Finally, on Dec. 4, he eased into his stand before daylight. He was convinced that he was wasting his time, but at least he was hunting again.
“It was really warm for December,” he said. “I was hot and sweaty by the time I got in the stand. I wasn’t expecting to see a lot. I saw some does and small bucks heading back to their bedding area. The first 45 minutes after daylight was good with lots of deer moving through, but the action seemed to slow as the sun came up.
“I had been sitting for a while with no activity when about 9:30, I looked up and a doe crossed the end of one of my lanes. I got my gun up just in case. Good thing I did because the big boy was right behind her. I whistled and he stopped and I shot. I heard a pop, and he disappeared behind some thick stuff. I knew the bullet had hit something, but it was a 240-yard shot, so I was a little nervous from not knowing for sure that I hit him.
“I called my dad and a few buddies and told them that I thought I had shot a big one. I gave the buck about an hour and a half to lay, and I prayed that he was down. I finally got down and went to where I shot him. He hadn’t made it 20 yards.”
Brady said two things really made his biggest buck even extra special.
“Just two weeks before I had gone to Illinois and taken a 148-inch buck with my bow,” he said. “I never dreamed that two weeks later that I would take a buck bigger than that where I hunt in Georgia.
“The other thing is that I learned that I had qualified for the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. I shot that buck with a .270 A-Bolt that my dad had won as a weekly winner in the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out in the 90s.”
Week 14: Chris Graddy
Date: Dec. 20
Net Score: 139 0/8 Typical
If a bowhunter wants to kill a record-class buck, carrying the bow during gun season is key. Chris Graddy, of Sumner, had his bow in hand for a Dec. 20 hunt in Dougherty County.
“Quick hunt after a busy week at work,” Chris said. “I left work a little early that Friday, climbed the tree around 4:30 p.m. and connected with this nice buck around 5:15 p.m. as he followed a doe to 36 yards.
“Sometimes things just come together like it was a script the man upstairs planned for us. Thank you, Lord!”
The 12-point buck netted 139 even.
Week 15: Tommy Tabb
Date: Dec. 22
Net Score: 136 0/8 Typical
“Over the past couple of years, I have seen two nice bucks,” said our Week 15 winner, Tommy Tabb, of Conyers. “I saw each of them one time on separate occasions—one buck in 2020 and the other one in 2021. They were on the game camera at my Rockdale County hunting spot. Those were the only times I spotted them, but I had never seen them during a hunt.”
That changed late last season.
“It was Dec. 22. It was a beautiful afternoon with a slight wind,” Tommy said. “The temperature was mild, and it was a perfect day for an afternoon hunt. I decided to leave work after lunch to head to my tripod stand.
“I settled into the stand at 3:05 p.m. Around 3:45 p.m., I saw a good-sized doe come up the hill from the bottom woods. She walked into my lower food plot, followed by two yearlings. After the three deer browsed in the food plot for approximately 10 minutes, I saw the silhouette of a deer passing through the woods. It wasn’t long until a spike entered my food plot. These deer entered in and out of my food plot for about an hour. The four deer were browsing when all of the sudden, all the deer looked up. They immediately scattered down in the woods. I was disappointed because I thought they had seen me move. After the fact, I think what actually happened was they saw a big buck enter the area.
“Around 5 p.m., the same group of deer came back to the food plot. Around 5:15 p.m., two more does entered the food plot and fed for about five minutes. Right after that, a small 5-pointer moved into my upper food plot, followed by a large buck. I knew right off he was the buck I saw on my camera in August of 2021.
“Seeing the size of the larger deer, I wasted no time. I shouldered my rifle, took steady aim, then squeezed the trigger. The buck jumped up in the air with his tail down. He landed on all four feet, turned and ran into the woods. I heard him run for about five seconds.
“Wow, what an adrenaline rush! Feeling good about my shot, I waited 15 minutes, packed up my gear and climbed down from my stand. I immediately found several splotches of blood where I hit him. I followed his blood trail down in the woods. I stopped to scan the area left and right. I walked a little more, and there he was, awesome!
“It only took about 10 to 15 minutes to find him. He was about 80 yards from my stand. After dragging the deer from the woods, I got my neighbor John to help me load the buck into my truck. It was getting late, but Newborn Taxidermy kept their business open for me to make the 45-minute drive. What a nice hunt, one I will never forget.
“Now, I wonder if that other buck is still out there. Maybe, you just never know though, do you?”
Week 16: Trey Helms
Date: Dec. 27
Net Score: 124 4/8 Typical
The tail-end of deer season paid off big for Trey Helms, of Panama City, Fla. While bowhunting his property in Clay County on Dec. 27, Trey killed a buck that netted 124 4/8. Then during the final week of the season, Trey arrowed a buck that netted 120 6/8. In the span of two weeks, Trey killed the No. 4 and No. 5 bow-bucks ever recorded from Clay County. And he already had the No. 3 bow-buck, a 2012 deer that scored 136 5/8.
The buck Clay arrowed on Dec. 27 earned Trey a spot in the Shoot-Out as the Week 16 winner.
“He came in chasing a doe from behind me and to my left,” Trey said. “She ran right under me and kept going out in front of me. Then he came under me following her path—that’s when I drew my bow and took an 18-yard quartering-away shot on him.”
Week 17: Wendell Duncan
Date: Jan. 7
Net Score: 145 0/8 Typical
With only a few days of the season remaining, Wendell Duncan, of Ball Ground, was at his Macon County property for a Friday evening hunt.
“I got into my stand at 3 p.m. At around 4:30, I started having some does come in my field. And at around 5:30 p.m., I looked to my right and saw a nice buck looking my direction,” said Wendell.
“The buck started walking toward the does, so I got my rifle on the buck and bleated to stop the buck and squeezed the trigger.
The buck ran about 50 yards and dropped, and then I said thank you, Lord. A few minutes later I got down to see the buck I killed.”
With a net score of 145 even, Wendell won the final week of the 2021-22 deer season and earned his spot in the Shoot-Out.
Youth Wildcard: Gavin King
Net Score: 152 1/8
Date: Dec. 6 , Week 13
It took one of the best bucks ever killed in northeast Georgia to keep 14-year-old Gavin King from winning Week 13, but Gavin still made the Shoot-Out with his Worth County 10-pointer. Gavin’s buck scored 152 1/8 to win the Youth Wildcard spot. He killed the buck on Dec. 6.
“My dad and I were hunting on a food plot we call the Pear Tree,” Gavin said. “We got in the stand at about 3:45, and it started out pretty slow to begin with. The first thing we saw were two yearlings that came out on the right side of the field. After that, it started to rain pretty hard for about 10 minutes, but after it rained, we immediately started to see more deer.
“It started out being just a couple of does but since it was during the rut, a couple of bucks came out behind the does but they were too young to shoot. It was already 5:55 when the buck came out that we were going to shoot. He was not stopping in the field, but my dad being the expert guide, he whistled so the deer would stop. The buck stopped, and I shot him. He ran about 30 yards to the edge of the field and fell.”
In addition to being in the Shoot-Out for a chance at the truck and Firminator, Gavin earned a Wildcard package that includes a $250 Agri Supply gift card, a Rugged Road Outdoor coolers, mineral and attractant from 4S Wildlife Solutions, an HSS harness and a Realtree Shoot-Out shirt.
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