24-Point Non-Typical Buck From Rockdale County
Devin Key has been hunting all his life for a gnarly racked monster like the one he killed in south Rockdale County Oct. 24. The funny thing is, the Stockbridge hunter almost passed on a perfect, 30-yard, broadside shot because he thought the buck might be too small!
But that’s the end of the story, and this one is worth starting from the beginning.
On the Thursday before Devin’s fateful Friday-morning hunt, he gave up his plans for an evening hunt to repair the door of his preacher’s father, which had been kicked in by a burglar. The job took most of the day, and when the work was done, Devin had run out of daylight. Ray Turner, the song leader at Devin’s church, People’s Baptist in McDonough, told Devin he would be rewarded for his selflessness.
“He told me, ‘Devin, the Lord’s going to really bless you for coming to help God’s man and not going hunting. He’s going to send you the biggest deer you’ve ever seen,’” Devin recounted. “I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but it was something like, ‘He’s going to send you one as big as two 10-pointers.’”
Well, Ray must be somewhat of a clairvoyant. The deer Devin saw the next morning was bigger than anything he had ever seen before, and actually, it was a little bigger than two 10-pointers. It had 24 points sprouting in all directions from a massive, 11-point main frame. The back-swept drop tines extending with impressive width from each G2 were still tipped with the last clinging vestige of dried velvet.
Friday dawned rainy and windy. Devin was keeping an eye on the weather, waiting to see when the monsoon would hit before heading to a 50-acre tract he has permission to hunt. He finally got to the stand, a ladder stand erected for his 11-year-old son, Colt, after daylight. The wind was whipping around in circles, and a light rain was falling on the thick pines that bordered a hardwood select cut Devin planned to hunt.
“The rain didn’t bother me that much, but I knew no deer was going to come anywhere near me with the wind blowing around like that,” Devin said. “But when I topped that rise, I smelled a polecat — like a polecat had been in there messing around. I thought maybe the deer wouldn’t smell me over that polecat.”
Armed with his duck gun, a Beretta 12-gauge loaded with slugs, Devin screwed a camo umbrella into the tree above his head and settled in.
“I kept wanting to move the stand back, but he had the whole woods tore up right there. I thought Colt might get him a pretty good buck there,” Devin said. “I put that crazy umbrella up there and thought, ‘there’s no way a deer’s going to come in here with the rain drumming on that thing.’”
Devin’s reservations were unfounded. He was set up amongst dropping white-oak acorns, with trails on either side of the stand. It didn’t take long for the first deer to come bopping down the trail along the transition from pines to hardwoods.
“I caught something out of the corner of my eye coming down the edge of the pines,” he said. “Right off, you start trying to judge whether or not it’s one you want to shoot, and I judged it had about an 18-inch spread. I couldn’t decide whether or not to let it pass for Colt. Maybe he’d get a shot at it later.”
Before Devin could make a decision, the buck disappeared into the thick pines, and Devin waited patiently for it to re-emerge. After waiting quietly for about 20 minutes, Devin went to his grunt call, a gift from his brother he has carried into the woods for more than 15 years.
“I blew my grunt call a couple of times, and that big deer came out,” Devin said, still thinking it might be the same deer he had seen earlier. “He had green white-oak leaves and branches all in his rack. I was aggravated that he had all that stuff all in his rack because I couldn’t see how big it was.”
It may have been that some of what Devin thought were branches in the buck’s rack were actually antlers. He admitted to thinking the velvet clinging to the end of a massive drop tine was brown leaves.
“He came out burled up a little bit, like ‘nobody’s going to mess with me.’ But he was really kind of at ease. He actually started feeding a little bit,” Devin said. “I had my bead on him, and I was trying to decide whether or not to let him go… how stupid was that?”
Devin did not, however, make the mistake of letting this one walk. He put a slug in the buck at 30 yards broadside. It jumped and ran, but it didn’t go very far.
“When I walked up, he had a little tree all wrapped up in his rack, and I thought, ‘good Lord, what a deer.’ But I still hadn’t seen the other side of the rack,” Devin said. “When I got that tree out of his rack and saw what I had, I just dropped to my knees and thanked the Lord. I couldn’t believe a deer like that would be in these woods. It looked like something out of Illinois.”
No one yet has been brave enough to wade into this gnarled mess of tines to pull a tape on the buck for a green score. Once the 60-day drying period has passed, there is a chance Devin’s south Rockdale County giant could be this year’s first buck from Georgia to qualify for the Boone & Crockett record book.
Just think, Devin was a heartbeat away from letting this buck walk on down the trail.
Rockdale County All-Time Best Bucks
|1||211 5/8 (NT)||Devin Key||2008||Rockdale||Gun||View|
|2||161 4/8||Jerry Mitchell||1991||Rockdale||Gun|
|3||156 3/8||Chase Haydel||2004||Rockdale||Crossbow||View|
|4||155 1/8||Fred Bushmiaer||2003||Rockdale||Gun||View|
|8||152 6/8||Eric Sanders||2000||Rockdale||Gun|
|9||151 7/8||Wayne Thompson||1998||Rockdale||Gun||View|
|10||173 6/8 (NT)||Kirk Landes||2004||Rockdale||Found||View|
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