Nesbit Bedingfield’s Fulton County 15-Pointer
“Come on, honey, time to get up.”
Vicki Bedingfield shook her husband’s shoulder, but he showed little interest in getting out of bed.
“Leave me alone,” Nesbit Bedingfield grumbled.
“But it’s time for you to go hunting,” Vicki insisted.
It was 4 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, 1999. After getting home from work the evening before, Vicki had intentionally stayed up for most of the night so that she could get Nesbit up to go hunting. For nearly two weeks, Nesbit had been bowhunting hard for a huge buck. His lack of success had left him in low spirits.
“There’s no use in going today,” Nesbit said. “I’m never gonna see that buck again.”
“Yes, you are,” Vicki said. “You’re going to get him today, I just know it. Come on, now. Get out of bed.”
“You’re crazy,” Nesbit answered, still half asleep.
Nesbit had seen this big buck at least three times during the Thanksgiving holidays on the property in South Fulton County where he bowhunts with several close relatives. Nesbit knew the buck was huge, and he figured the odds of seeing it again were slim. To add to his frustration, the last time he had seen the buck in the woods, he had heard several nearby gunshots shortly after the buck disappeared. Since Nesbit was hunting north of Highway 92 in the “bow only” portion of Fulton County, he strongly suspected the shots had been made by a poacher. For all he knew, the big buck might be dead.
Reluctantly, Nesbit crawled out of bed on that fateful Saturday morning.
Nesbit was fairly new to bowhunting for deer. Now 28, he had grown up hunting squirrels and rabbits on the farm in south Fulton County where his grandparents had lived since the early 1950s. However, he had never done any deer hunting until a few years ago.
“I had rifle hunted once or twice with my dad years ago,” Nesbit said, “but I never really enjoyed hunting with a gun. Then, in 1994, I started bowhunting with my uncle, Roy Bedingfield. Roy had been bowhunting since the early ’80s. He’s a good hunter, and he taught me a lot. He lives on the land we hunt, and that’s good because he gets to do a lot of scouting.”
During his first year of bowhunting, 1994, Nesbit shot a button buck.
“I was ecstatic over getting my first deer, but then I realized it was a button buck,” Nesbit said. “I thought it was a doe.”
Nesbit bowhunted very little over the next few years. Then, in ’99, he bought a new outfit and decided he would do some serious bowhunting.
“A friend of mine put me in touch with Travis Turner, who owns Archery Unlimited down in Hogansville,” Nesbit said. “Travis fixed me up with a brand new PSE Durango.”
As soon as the ’99 bow season started, Nesbit and Roy hunted every weekend. A few weeks into the season, Nesbit grunted up and arrowed a 5-pointer, his first antlered buck. Then, a little later, he arrowed a second button buck, again mistaking it for a doe. (Editor’s Note: button bucks with no antler visible above the hairline count as “antlerless” deer on a hunter’s season limit). At this point in time, no truly big bucks had ever been sighted on the property.
“Roy had killed several nice bucks with his bow, and he was a lot more selective than I was, but neither one of us were really looking for a trophy,” Nesbit says. “I would have been perfectly happy with a big, fat doe. During the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to take several vacation days because we figured that would be the best time to hunt during the peak of the rut. So, we hunted every day.”
On the morning of Monday, November 25, Roy shot a nice 9-pointer. Since he and Nesbit always hunted fairly close together, they decided to do some scouting that afternoon and move their stands across the property to a completely new area.
“We found some rubs and droppings in an area where several hardwood ridges slope down toward a swamp bottom where we figured the deer were probably bedding,” Nesbit said. “I set up my stand on one ridge and Roy set up on another. The next morning, we moved our stands up the ridge about 40 yards. Things were quiet that day, and not much happened.
“On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, it was a totally different story,” Nesbit said. “I saw a big buck walking behind Roy’s stand. He must have passed within 10 yards of Roy’s tree. By the time Roy knew he was there, he couldn’t turn around. I could see some long tines, but Roy never got more than a quick glimpse of the buck and the buck disappeared.
“That afternoon we got to our stands about 3 p.m. I was about halfway up my tree when I looked down and there he was, the same big buck, walking up the ridge from the creek bottom. I quickly pulled my bow up and got my release in my hand. Then I did something pretty dumb. I whistled at him to stop him. I don’t know what I was thinking. At that point, he was still about 50 or 60 yards away, and he was way out of range. My heart was racing, and I guess I just freaked out.
“After I whistled,” Nesbit continued, “he stopped and looked around for a minute or two, and then he skirted around a big oak tree. I whistled again, and he stopped for the second time. Finally he went on out of sight.”
A few minutes later, Nesbit saw a smaller buck approaching Roy’s stand from the opposite direction. Roy made a perfect shot on the buck as Nesbit watched. While the two hunters were getting Roy’s second buck of the week out of the woods, Nesbit told Roy he had seen the monster again.
“He was huge,” Nesbit said. “His antlers were real long, and he had to be at least a 10-pointer.”
Since no one had ever seen a really big buck on the property, Roy was a little skeptical. “Everybody thought I was crazy,” Nesbit remembers.
Prior to seeing the big buck on Wednesday morning, Nesbit would have gladly taken the first legal deer to come along. Now he was fired up. He knew he’d never be satisfied until he got a crack at the giant buck he had seen. Nesbit spent Thanksgiving Day with his family. He returned to the woods on Friday morning.
“It was raining, and I sat in my stand all day on Friday,” Nesbit recalled. “Right before dark, at about 5:45 p.m., I heard a noise behind me. It was the big buck. He had two does with him. I thought they were going to walk right past my tree but they didn’t. They stayed behind me. A few minutes went by, and while he was chasing one of the does, I took the only shot I could take. I heard a ‘thunk,’ and then everything got quiet. I wasn’t sure if I had hit him or not, so I got my uncle. We got a lantern and started looking for my a lantern and started looking for my arrow. We found it sticking in a hickory tree. Everybody got a good laugh about that, but I was really glad I hadn’t wounded the buck.”
Because Nesbit was so excited about the big buck, Vicki bought him a video camera. Since Roy had filled both his buck tags, he agreed to go with Nesbit on Saturday and Sunday to try to video the big buck.
“On Sunday morning, we got in the woods late, so I had to put up my stand in a hurry,” Nesbit said. “Roy was in a separate tree about four feet from my tree. About 9 a.m., we heard the buck coming through the woods. He was with a doe again, but he never came within range. Roy did get some good video footage, though, and that was the first time someone had actually seen him other than me.” (The video Roy shot was later sent to GON and aired on GON-TV).
Nesbit did not hunt again until the following Saturday morning. If it had not been for Vicki’s efforts in getting him up at 4 a.m., he might not have hunted that day.
“I got to the woods a little late, and Uncle Roy took me out on the 4-wheeler and dropped me off,” Nesbit remembers. “I had my deer stand with me, and I told myself I was going to set up a little farther down the ridge. I couldn’t find a good tree, and it was starting to get light, so I made the mistake of setting up in a white oak. I had never set up in a white oak before, and I never will again. The bark made all kinds of noise.
“I always get dressed after I get up in my stand,” said Nesbit. “I know it might not be the smartest thing to do, but I sweat a lot, and I never put on my hunting clothes until I’m up in my stand, even when it’s cold. I usually just wear a T-shirt, and I carry my insulated overalls and a jacket in a backpack with me. So, I got set up, pulled up my bow and my backpack, and started getting dressed.
“While I was dressing, I saw something move over on the adjacent ridge,” Nesbit said. “I said, ‘Dang, there’s a squirrel.’ I kept looking and looking, and finally I realized it wasn’t a squirrel, it was a deer. Then I saw antlers. It was the buck! It was around 7:10 a.m., and I was half-dressed. I had my 35 mm camera around my chest, and my video camera strapped around my neck. I thought, If I can’t get a shot, at least I’ll get some video footage or pictures.
“This time, he was by himself, no does, no nothing. He was on one ridge, and I was in a tree on another ridge. I watched him feed for a few minutes, then he came down into the bottom. When he came down the little saddle between the two ridges, I thought, Here he comes!”
Sure enough, the buck continued straight toward Nesbit’s tree.
“I never got nervous or anything,” Nesbit said. “I picked up my bow, took my cameras and slid them around behind my right shoulder, and drew back. When he came up out of the little saddle, I grunted once with my mouth. He stopped, and I let my arrow fly. The arrow hit him a little high and he took off running.”
Nesbit was 25 feet up the white oak, and the shot was later paced off at 31 yards. It was now about 7:40 a.m.
“He ran about 10 yards and stopped,” Nesbit said. “He took off running again, up the ridge. I thought, Oh, God, I missed, because I had been told that if a deer runs up hill, he’s probably not wounded. About that time he went down, and I thought, Oh, boy, I got him! He jumped back up and went another 20 yards or so and went down again. Then I lost sight of him. I had my cell phone with me, and the first thing I did was call Vicki. I said, ‘Baby, I got him!’”
Then Nesbit called Roy, who was on the scene 10 minutes later. Nesbit had climbed down from his tree and was looking for his arrow.
“Where was he standing when you shot?” Roy asked.
Nesbit showed Roy where the buck had been standing, and sure enough, Nesbit’s arrow was lying right there on the ground. It had good blood on it.
“Which way did he go?”
Nesbit pointed, and Roy looked down the hill. Roy immediately saw a patch of white 80 yards away. Nesbit had seen the same patch of white, but he thought it was some kind of trash.
“There’s your deer,” Roy said. “Right down there!”
Sure enough, the patch of white turned out to be a 200-plus pound trophy buck with a magnificent set of antlers. Nesbit started screaming and yelling. Once the two hunters reached the fallen buck, Roy captured the moment on video while Nesbit started counting the points on his trophy.
Nesbit knew he had a great buck, but he had no idea that his buck would qualify for the Pope & Young record book. After taking the antlers to Jordan’s Taxidermy in Mableton to be mounted (where Nesbit won a free mount for having the best rack of the season), he quickly learned that he had arrowed more than just a trophy.
The rack was later taken to DNR headquarters in Social Circle where it was officially scored by Dan Forster. With a total of 15 scorable points, the main-framed 6×6 rack possessed three additional abnormal points that tallied just over 14 inches. Nesbit’s trophy netted 168 2/8 non-typical P&Y points, the number five buck in Georgia’s all-time list of non-typical Pope & Youngs
Nesbit is very grateful to his wife for making sure that he got out of bed on that fateful morning, and he’s also very appreciative for all the help he received from his Uncle Roy. Nesbit may not be a veteran bowhunter, but one thing is certain. When the moment of truth came to arrow the buck of a lifetime, he maintained his cool and executed the shot with deadly precision. In the process, he ended up with the fifth-best buck ever taken in Fulton County!
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