Record Buck From Redlands Caps WMA Dream Season
What are the odds of killing the best buck ever from a Georgia WMA? Not as unlikely as also killing a Top-10 buck from another WMA the same season!
Losing access to private hunting land can be devastating. Finding another private tract and getting access to hunt is like finding a needle in a haystack. What’s a hunter to do? For Kevin Penn, of Metter, it was time to consider public land if he wanted venison in the freezer last season.
“Me and my son always hunted private land, but when that fell apart, we didn’t have a choice but to hunt WMAs. We’ve never hunted WMAs before in Georgia except for turkeys,” Kevin said.
Kevin’s son Dakota is 16 years old, and he loves hunting. Not hunting was not an option.
“He will wear you out, he loves it so much,” Kevin said. “By the end of deer season, I’m like, ‘Thank goodness it’s over.’ He’s always on the internet scouting areas. He can tell you how many dove fields they have, what swamps they have. He’s the next Michael Waddell if I’ve ever seen one.”
Their first WMA excursion last season was a quota hunt at Di-Lane WMA. Kevin and Dakota applied for and were drawn for the first quota firearms hunt at Di-Lane WMA. Like several other WMA firearms hunts, this Di-Lane hunt took place Oct. 8-10, the week before the general statewide firearms deer season opened. Di-Lane is 8,100 acres of mostly open fields and early succession habitat managed primarily for quail. Only bucks with at least four points on either side are legal at Di-Lane.
Kevin and his son went up to scout before bow season.
“We just wanted to check it out, see what we were getting into,” Kevin said.
What Kevin got into during the hunt was a fantastic buck.
“I was hunting one of the creek bottoms, and he was actually in bow range. I could have killed him with a bow,” Kevin said.
The rack was later officially scored with a net of 112 inches even, the No. 7 buck ever recorded from Di-Lane WMA.
The next excursion for Dakota and Kevin was when they traveled from their home in Candler County up to Dawson Forest WMA, a mountain area with quality-buck regulations and a relatively low deer population.
“On the way up there, Dakota said, ‘We’re going to get a bear.’ I was like, ‘What? A bear?’
“Well, we didn’t do any good at all,” Kevin said. “I ran into a game warden up there—he was super nice and gave us tips on how to hunt that terrain, but we were out of our element. He told me, ‘I bet if I put you in a river swamp you could kill some deer.’ I said you’re right about that.”
Kevin and Dakota weren’t done hunting after Kevin’s impressive Di-Lane buck and the dry run to Dawson Forest. After Christmas, they decided to hunt Redlands WMA. Redlands WMA encompasses 37,500 acres of Oconee National Forest land on various tracts primarily in Greene County and also in Morgan, Oconee and Oglethorpe counties. Redlands is generally open for public hunting following state seasons; however, like all national forest land in Georgia, Redlands is a little more restrictive with deer seasons. Redlands is closed to deer hunting from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25 and then opens back up from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, basically the old “December Break” and New Year’s Day closing that the Northern Zone used to have.
“I’d heard people called it ‘Deadlands’ because the deer hunting is pretty tough, but I also heard there were some hogs, so we thought why not try it,” Kevin said.
Kevin and his son set up camp at a recreation area on the WMA. They had never scouted the area, but Kevin said they did spend some time online looking at maps.
“The weather was terrible. It rained, and it got so cold we had to run to Walmart to get a heater. One night we had coyotes come right into camp. We were definitely roughing it, but in the end it was worth it.”
On New Year’s Eve, after four days of hunting and only a few does seen by Dakota one day around lunchtime, Kevin was losing some hunting steam.
“My son wanted to hunt the archery area that afternoon, so I dropped him off. I wasn’t feeling real hot, and I thought about staying at camp. My son talked me into going, but I didn’t want to take my climber because I wasn’t feeling all that well. So I went back to an area we had hunted the second day where we had seen some good sign. It was about 2 miles in. I was easing along and decided to head to a little plateau on a ridge where I could see down in a bottom and across to another ridge. I was heading toward a big pine tree I could sit against.
“All of a sudden two big bucks popped up. They were bedded on the ridge I was on. They were bedded down together. and I actually walked up on them. They were 30 yards from me. I raised my gun up, but by that time they had eased off down into the bottom. They didn’t bolt out of there, so I knew I still had a chance. I eased down toward where I thought they had gone. I was headed down a main trail, easing through there, and I saw him through the trees. I took the shot, and I got him—had nothing to prop up on, shot him free hand.
“I shot him at 3:30 Then he about wore me out. By the time I got him out of the woods, picked up my son, and got back to the cleaning station, it was 9:30.”
“My son looked it up online and said, ‘I think you got the record.’ Later he kept telling me I needed to get him scored.’
Recently, official B&C measurer George Steele put a tape to the rack and tallied a net score of 137 4/8, making Kevin’s buck the best ever recorded from Redlands WMA. The previous record was a 1989 buck taken by Junior Fowler that netted 133 7/8.
Redlands WMA All-Time Buck Records
|1||137 4/8||Kevin Penn||2020||Greene||Gun||View|
|2||137 2/8||Eddie Bradberry||2003||Greene||Gun|
|3||133 7/8||Junior Fowler||1989||Greene||Gun|
|4||132 5/8||Mark Hill||2005||Greene||Gun|
|5||130 4/8||Michael Anderson||2008||Greene||Gun|
|6||126 5/8||Mike Pendley||2016||Greene||Gun||View|
|7||126 4/8||Christian Ireland||2020||Greene||Gun||View|
|8||126 4/8||Jacob Reese||2020||Greene||Gun||View|
|10||121 2/8||Bobby Brooks||2006||Greene||Gun|
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