New River’s Coweta County Monster Buck
Randy Cash spent 12 deerless days to get a shot at the biggest buck ever from Coweta County.
This story is nine years old, but it’s never been told. It is about a star-crossed rack that could have been a contender. If we could nudge two tines a half inch or so, we’d be talking about a new Georgia state-record buck.
The buck is a monster 12-pointer with an inside spread greater than a foot and a half.
The setting is November 1981 on the bank of the New River in Coweta County. The hunter is a young, inexperienced Randy Cash. It is a story that will last Randy a lifetime.
Randy was 22 years old that fall, and he had never killed a deer. His father fished a lot but never hunted. Randy didn’t take up deer hunting until he was 17; and he was 0-or-four seasons. But he was learning.
One day Randy and Jerome Elliott stopped to scout a clearcut tract of unleased timber land. Way over on the back side, high on a knob, was about 30 acres of hardwoods. The back side of the knob dropped steeply, forming a bluff bank of the New River.
Sitting at his kitchen table last Thursday, Randy began to tell me about this small isolated scope of woods. His eyes lit up, his memory came new and fresh as he walked those woods again.
“You couldn’t see those hardwoods until you’d walked back in there a ways,” he said. “I don’t think anyone but us knew they were still there.”
“When Jerome and I walked into the hardwoods, we knew we’d found a great spot,” he continued. “You didn’t have to be much of a deer hunter to see that deer were really using these hardwoods. There were acorns everywhere and deer droppings and trails… it was awesome!”
Randy and Jerome hurriedly built stands in the hardwoods and hunted the knob hard for two weeks… Zero, Zilch, Nada! The deer sign was still there, still fresh. But they weren’t seeing any deer. So one morning they walked and slid and slipped down the steep, hardwood-studded bluff bank to the river. Here, it really wasn’t a river, but it was larger than a jump-across creek. The other side was flat, thick and leased. The beaver ponds on the other side apparently kept other hunters from hunting near the river. As Randy and Jerome scouted the river bank, they found four good crossings. Maybe the crossings would produce deer.
Randy was hunting with a Remington .870 pump; a slug up the spout backed by two loads of buckshot. Because the bluff was so steep. Randy decided to hunt from the ground. He carried his dove stool in and out each day.
The first morning, Jerome killed a buck and Randy saw five deer, all does. In the fooling around of dressing and dragging Jerome’s buck out, Randy found another crossing. It was actually two crossings about 20 yards apart. One was heavily used, the other used sporadically. In the center of the lightly used crossing was a fresh track, the biggest deer track Randy had ever seen! Randy found a large sweetgum tree 20 yards above and centered between the two crossings. There was a flat spot of ground on the uphill side of the big tree, perfect for his dove stool. Randy made up his mind to hunt that crossing and the deer that made that track.
The next morning, a 4-pointer crossed the river and Randy had his first-ever buck. He was elated, but he knew there was still another buck there.
For the next 12 mornings, Randy faithfully hunted his crossing. But Randy did not see a deer from his New River sweetgum stand. Every day at lunch, he’d check both crossings, looking for the track of the tremendous buck. There was no sign. But Randy believed.
It was Nov. 16, the peak of the rut in Coweta County. A crystal clear night and freezing temperatures had left a heavy frost on the clearcut as Randy trekked to his stand. The woods were bright and golden, the leaves loud as corn flakes. Randy was on his stool, his shotgun across his knees, the tree directly in front of him, the big crossing just visible to the right of the tree, the big track crossing just to the left.
Randy had been there 30 minutes and had seen and heard nothing. Suddenly, there’s a deer, a huge deer, across the creek, trotting away, out of sight.
“I thought it was a horse,” said Randy. “And it was just gone. I was stunned. I just sat there staring the way he went, to the right.”
Just as suddenly, a small doe bolted out of some thick stuff across the creek, rocketed, through the creek at the right crossing, and screeched to a four-point stop on Randy’s side of the water. She immediately began to feed up the bluff, head down, picking up acorns, her pace slow but her tail twitching continuously.
Randy still hadn’t moved. The doe fed along until it was even with Randy, only 5 yards away. Randy felt sure the little doe would spot him and spook.
Ghost-like, suddenly the big buck was standing in an opening across the creek 70 yards, just his head and neck visible. A monster. Buck fever set in. Randy was frozen. The buck backed into the thicket and was gone again.
The doe moved up the bluff, above Randy. He could hear her but couldn’t see her.
“She’s going to smell me and spook,” he feared.
Crash! To the left the big buck had circled and burst through the woods, leaping into the creek in a tremendous splash. Randy saw the waves rolling down the creek. He leaned slightly left to see the buck standing belly-hair deep in the water, his massive antlers slowly sweeping side-to-side. Bug-eyed but recovering, Randy slowly raised the gun from across his knees to vertical.
The buck clambered out of the water moving left to right behind the big sweetgum. At 15 yards, he stepped into view. He was watching the doe. Randy started to drop the muzzle and should the gun when the buck snapped his head directly at him, freezing him at “half cock.” They stared at one another. The buck raised his front hoof and stomped… He did it again… And again! Randy’s pulse was hammering in his ears, his arms were turning to Jell-O, he’d forgotten how to breath. But he didn’t move.
The buck raised his hoof again but stopped and held it there like a bird dog on point. Time froze in the bright, still woods. The doe fed above them.
Slowly, the buck began to ease his hoof down, setting it softly back on the ground. His eyes lost interest in Randy, and he swung his head toward the doe. Randy seized the moment, snapped the gun up and fired.
He almost missed. But he could not have done better. He almost shot over his buck of a lifetime but the massive slug hit the spine just behind the shoulder. The impact split the heavy chunk of lead into two parts, one into each lung. The buck dropped stone dead in its huge tracks.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Randy began trying to get his huge, 12-point buck scored. He’s had trouble mostly because those of us who score for Boone & Crockett hate to say “No” to a deer and a rack that is this good yet is treated so roughly by the B&C scoring method. The rack has been taped a number of times, photos have been taken, and it has all been shown to B&C national headquarters. Three long tines grow where they shouldn’t and a rack that rough scores 207 inches finishes at 187 inches non-typical and below 155 typical. B&C minimum record book scores at 170 typical and 195 non-typical.
In B&C defense, no system can be perfect and fair in every instance, and the B&C system is as good as any ever devised. Still, as a B&C scorer myself, having seen as many as as I have and having researched the records as well as I can, I believe Randy Cash and his New River buck hold the record for the biggest buck from Coweta County. And I believe Randy’s buck grew the horns capable of being the best ever in Georgia. He just grew them in the wrong spots.
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