Paul Smith’s Dodge County Booner

The best buck taken in the state during the 1993-94 deer season was a middle Georgia giant.

Bill Cooper | August 1, 1994

While growing up, Raul Smith, of Eastman, was always interested in the outdoors and generally enjoyed all types of hunting, from dove and other small game to deer and turkey. Prior to 1993, he deer hunted when the opportunity arose, but it wasn’t a sport he singularly preferred above all others.

Last fall, however, Paul’s interest in deer hunting made a definite upswing, undoubtedly fueled by the encouragement of his older brother, Timmy, who has been an avid whitetail enthusiast for several years.

“Paul definitely got serious about his hunting,” Timmy remarked. “In the past, when it was time to hunt, he would just pick a spot without bothering to scout very much, but last season he really spent a lot of time walking over the timber land we have leased, checking for deer sign and selecting possible locations to place his stand.”

After the season opened, Paul continued to devote most of his available mornings and afternoons to hunting, but by Thanksgiving, his efforts had not met with much success. Still, there was a considerable amount of buck sign in the area and he remained optimistic.

On the morning of Nov. 29, 1993 Paul hunted for an hour or so, then climbed down to do some additional scouting. He was immediately disappointed to find that several nearby scrapes had not been recently visited. Following a woods road, he proceeded down into a narrow hardwood bottom that paralleled a small creek.

As he slowly slipped along, a deer suddenly snorted from a dense thicket. The deer continued to blow every few seconds, and as Paul moved backward in an attempt to see if it was a buck or a doe, he stepped into an old stump hole and nearly fell. Just as he regained his balance, another deer could be heard walking in the dry leaves.

Paul Smith, of Eastman, with Georgia’s highest-scoring buck of the 1993 season. The rack grossed a great score of 182 1/8 total inches, netting after deductions 173 1/8 Boone & Crockett points. Paul’s buck is the first B&C from Dodge County.

Suddenly, Paul heard the deer grunt! Excited to know this deer was a buck, he readied himself for a possible shot. Listening to its footsteps, he could tell the deer was less than 50 yards away, but, because of the dense undergrowth, he was unable to see anything. Finally, Paul got a quick glimpse of the antlers, large antlers. The buck apparently had its head down as it walked along, however, most of its body remained screened by brush.

Following the buck as it moved through the thick cover, while at the same time trying to aim and shoot, was exciting yet very frustrating. The combination of these two factors led to Paul rushing a shot as the buck passed a small opening. At the report of the rifle, the buck whirled and came to a complete stop only 20 to 30 yards away. Paul could see the enormous rack above the brush, but only a vague outline of the deer’s back.

He fired again and the top of a small sapling, directly in front of his rifle, slowly toppled over. Sounds of the running deer quickly faded into the distance.

To say Paul was upset at this point would be a gross understatement, however, he believed the first shot had hit the buck; he just wasn’t sure where. His feelings were shortly confirmed when he walked to where the deer had been standing and discovered a few small drops of blood in the dried leaves. He managed to find a couple of more drops in the direction the buck had run, but they were widely spaced and there was virtually no trail to follow. Unsure of what to do next and not wanting to make a mistake, Paul drove to the Dodge County Hospital, in Eastman, where his brother was working.

After listening to Paul’s story and hearing of the buck’s size, Timmy made arrangements to go back with him to the site.

“It was really a tough situation,” Timmy explained. “The drops of blood virtually disappeared after 35 yards, but after a considerable search, we picked up the trail again about 100 yards away in the general direction the deer seemed to have been heading.”

Tracking was painstakingly slow, but as they moved into an area of big pines, Timmy spotted the an tiers of the wounded buck, well ahead, where it appeared to be lying down in the open timber. After telling his brother where to position himself, Timmy circled the deer’s location before cautiously advancing to jump it, hopefully in Paul’s direction. Fortunately, the strategy worked and Paul bagged his first trophy buck, a monster 11-pointer, would turn out to be the top whitetail of the 1993-94 season.

Although Paul’s giant buck has a rather narrow inside spread of only 15 2/8 inches, this slight deficit is more than compensated by the rack’s tremendous height. Tine length is extremely impressive with three points that exceed 12 inches and two more that measure 10 inches.

The rack grosses a great score of 182 1/8, before netting, after deductions for asymmetry between the right and left antlers, plus one sticker point, a final total of 173 1/8 typical Boone & Crockett points. This officially qualifies Paul’s buck, which was 4 1/2 years old, for B&C’s all-time record book, the first Dodge County whitetail to be so listed.

While this latter distinction is certainly noteworthy, it should come to no great surprise to those hunters really familiar with the county. Dodge, which has a very good mixture of forest land and agriculture, has consistently produced some excellent trophy deer over the last several years. A good example occurred in 1985 when Todd Thompson, also of Eastman, took a great buck that netted 171 1/8 typical B&C points. Unfortunately, the deer had a third antler that grew right between the right antler base and eye, disqualifying it for B&C consideration. From a quality standpoint, the question has never been “if” Dodge could produce a record book whitetail, only when it would happen.


1173 1/8 Paul Smith1993DodgeGunView 
2169 1/8 Tony McCranie2005DodgeGunView 
3166 1/8 Sam Little2013DodgeGunView 
4186 6/8 (NT)Todd Thompson1985DodgeGunView 
5161 7/8 Alan May1986DodgeGun
6161 1/8 Michael Smith2014DodgeGunView 
7160 5/8 David Devereaux2007DodgeGun
8160 Jay Mullis1984DodgeGun
9159 6/8 Derek Taylor1990DodgeGun
10180 2/8 (NT)Heath Burch2006DodgeGunView 


Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.