Peach County Buck Best-Ever With A Crossbow

Mike Bolton | October 8, 2021

As all archery hunters know, being successful requires meticulous planning, patience and excellent arrow placement. Of course, having no set plan, being rushed and getting lucky sometimes works, too.

Macon’s Jonathan Ward recently took a big-bodied 11-point with his crossbow that he figures will score in the 145- to 150-inch range. He said he took it on an afternoon hunt that was, well, hectic.

Jonathan Ward with his big Peach County 11-point buck taken with a crossbow during the 2021 Georgia archery season.

“My boss gave me permission to hunt on a 3,200-acre lease in Peach County,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m a salesman for a landscaping company, and I normally get off at 5 p.m., but on this day, I got off at 3 p.m. because of a system failure. I decided to haul butt to the property.

“When I got there, I jumped on a 4-wheeler and decided to go get a camera I had up before going to hunt a place on the property I had never been to. On the way to the camera, the 4-wheeler started sputtering and I realized it was running out of gas. I turned the gas on reserve and decided to go straight to a spot where my buddy had seen a community scrape on Sunday. It was a place where a clearcut, some pines and hardwoods came together. I knew I wouldn’t have time to put up my climbing stand, but I had an old lean-to stand my dad had built. I threw it up and sat down pretty close to the community scrape.”

Jonathan said the instant he sat down, three does came to the scrape. A few seconds later, they were followed by two more does.

“They were just a few yards away from where I was on the ground, and they stood right there looking at me,” he said. “The wind was right in my face, so seeing me didn’t spook them. After a few minutes, I heard pigs, and 10 pigs came in and scared the does off. They could see me sitting on the ground, too, and they just looked at me, but they couldn’t smell me. One actually got to within 5 feet of me.

“They finally left and then I heard a twig snap. I got my crossbow up. I could see a limb shaking, so I figured it was a buck making a rub. When I finally saw him, I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, ‘Look at what we have here.’ He started coming right at me, and he was looking right at me. He finally stopped 10 yards away and just stared at me. I didn’t have a shot. Then he took two steps and that’s when I smoked him—or so I thought. He ran off.”

Jonathan waited 30 minutes before moving from his spot, then he went looking for his arrow. He found it immediately, and he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“It was gut blood,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘How in the world did that happen?’”

Jonathan had already called a friend who was hunting on the property. He then called his brother in Macon to come help him look for the deer.

“When my brother got there, we walked about 20 yards and didn’t find a drop of blood,” he said. “That’s when we decided we had better call in a friend who had a tracking dog. He got there and he said he liked to wait at least five or six hours before tracking a wounded deer. I had shot the deer right at 5:30, so he waited until 11:30 to release the dog.

“He was showing me the dog’s path on the GPS when the dog stopped 175 yards away. He said, ‘There’s your deer.’ Then the dog barked, and he said that’s not good. He said that means the deer is moving. But the dog wasn’t leaving the area. He was running around in bigger circles. We went there and the deer was dead. The coyotes had gotten to him and eaten out part of his belly.”

Jonathan said the deer had a beast of a body and likely weighed 250 pounds before the coyotes got to him. He figures it was 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 years old.

With no crossbow records in Peach County, Jonathan’s buck will set the No. 1 benchmark spot high if he gets it officially scored.


Peach County All-Time Buck Records

Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo
1 161 6/8 Jeffery O’Neal 1981 Peach Gun
2 159 7/8 Hugh Greene 1981 Peach Gun
3 159 5/8 Bruce Baldwin 2003 Peach Gun View 
4 158 5/8 Mark Johnson 2021 Peach Gun View 
5 157 2/8 Tillman Mason 2014 Peach Found
6 155 6/8 Travis Harvill 2002 Peach Bow
7 154 Marcus Walker 2001 Peach Gun
8 153 4/8 Steve Solomon 1998 Peach Gun
9 153 4/8 Mike East 2007 Peach Gun View 
10 153 1/8 Johnny Sams 1992 Peach Gun View 

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