Skeeter Grant’s 1969 Monroe County Non-Typical
This Monroe County buck taken in 1969 was a vintage giant in Georgia's hunting legacy.
It was early November 1969. Give or take a few days, it was unquestionably the best week of the year to be chasing rutting whitetails in the deer woods of central Georgia. As usual, Skeeter and Glenda Grant of Flovilla were out attempting to do that very thing. They were hunting on a small tract of land about four miles from Flovilla just across the Butts County line in Monroe County. The land belonged to a close friend, Roy Reeves, or “Mr. Roy” as everyone fondly called him.
The couple had hunted on Mr. Roy’s land many times before. Skeeter had built a number of permanent stands in strategic spots throughout the property. However, as the husband and wife team started out early on this particular Saturday morning, they faced two fairly significant problems. One affected Skeeter alone, the other affected them both. First, an unseasonable arctic blast had ripped across Georgia. It was so cold and miserable outside that, once arriving out in the woods, they decided against climbing up into their respective tree stands.
“It was really cold that day,” Skeeter remembers. “It must have been 10 or 12 degrees outside. Back in those days, they didn’t have all the cold weather gear that you can buy today, and we weren’t equipped for it. We decided it was way too cold to sit up in a tree and freeze to death. So we stayed together. We spread a tarp on the ground under a big pine tree, and we sort of huddled together under that tree.”
The second problem of the day involved the weapon Skeeter was using. He had loaned his favorite deer rifle — a Marlin lever-action .30/30 — to a close friend. Skeeter’s friend had wanted to go deer hunting that same weekend, and the friend did not own a rifle. So being the Good Samaritan, Skeeter good-naturedly loaned his friend his personal deer rifle. Skeeter knew that he could always borrow his brother’s Winchester .30/30. Now, his friendly gesture was about to cost him the buck of a lifetime.
“If the big one happens to come along,” Skeeter whispered to Glenda as they settled down on the ground under the big pine tree, “tell me, and I’ll get up and put a bullet in him!” Skeeter snuggled next to his wife and closed his eyes. It was almost too cold to hunt. Obviously he had been kidding when he made that bold statement, but it was true that a giant buck roamed the property where they were hunting. They had both seen this big buck on several occasions in the past, and the landowner, Roy Reeves, had seen him numerous times over the last few years. The last thing Skeeter ever expected on this frigid Saturday morning was to actually meet this grandfather of big bucks face to face.
Moments later, Glenda began to whisper. “You’re not gonna believe this, honey, but I’m looking directly at the big buck. He’s standing about 40 yards to your right. He just stepped down into a small ravine.”
Skeeter knew that Glenda wouldn’t joke about such a serious matter. He slowly turned his head and looked out to his right, but all he could see was brush.
“I can’t see him. Where is he?”
“He’s in the ravi…”
All at once, the big buck broke out of the cover on a dead run. Perhaps he had suddenly gotten a whiff of human scent. Whatever the reason, he had gone from standing still and being undisturbed to a full state of alert in a split second. The moment Skeeter saw those unmistakable antlers swinging in the cold breeze, he knew Glenda had been right. There was no doubt whatsoever that he was indeed looking at the monster buck they had both seen several times in the past.
“The buck came out of that thicket like somebody was after him,” Skeeter remembers. “I mean he was traveling!”
Instinctively, Skeeter raised the Winchester and fired.
“I got off a round, and he stopped. I knew it was a clean miss. I couldn’t see him where he stopped, but Glenda could see him very well.”
• • •
Skeeter was born and raised in Jackson. He played football at Jackson High, and he grew up hunting and fishing in and around Butts County.
“I was an avid bird hunter in my younger days,” Skeeter remembers. “Both dove and quail. When the first deer season opened in Butts County in the late 1950s, my dad wanted me to go hunting with him, but I refused to go. I couldn’t get used to the idea of ambushing a deer from up in a tree. I thought it was unfair. My dad chastised me a lot, and I finally agreed to go with him. Bird hunting always came first, but hunting deer started to grow on me. Eventually, I started enjoying it a lot. My dad killed several nice bucks, and once, during the early ’60s, I killed a perfect 12-pointer. Nobody made much of a fuss over racks in those days. We hunted mainly for the meat, and we got to where we loved deer meat. I gave the rack of my 12-pointer to my brother, for his son, and while it was out in the yard drying, a dog carried it off.
“After Glenda and I married, we enjoyed each other’s company so much that she started joining me out in the woods. We did a lot of bird hunting together, and she always brought home her share of doves and quail. For hunting deer, I bought her an old Savage Model 99 lever-action .22 High Power with a scope. It shoots a small 70-grain bullet, but it packs a big wallop — at better than 3,000 feet per second. Back in those days she could flat-out shoot that rifle. If she could get an open shot, she never missed. Sometimes her bullet would deflect if she hit some grass or something. Over the years, she brought home as many deer as I did. Some of then had some pretty good racks, too!”
• • •
Skeeter was sorely disappointed that he had missed the buck of a lifetime with a borrowed rifle. He vowed to never do that again. Sooner or later, he figured, he and the grand daddy of the woods would meet again.
It happened just two weeks later. With his trusty Marlin safely back in his possession, Skeeter and Glenda returned to Mr. Roy’s land on November 22. The weather was much more favorable on this Saturday morning, and they were both hunting from permanent tree stands as usual. The couple did most of their hunting on one side of the road on a 50-acre parcel that contained a large corn field. About mid-morning, Skeeter heard a shot. It sounded like it had come from Glenda’s direction, so he climbed down and walked over to her stand to check things out.
“Where is he, babe?” Skeeter asked as he approached Glenda’s stand, knowing that if she had fired, she more than likely had a deer on the ground.
“That wasn’t me doing the shooting,” she answered. “I don’t know where that shot came from. But I did see the big one just a few minutes ago. He came right by my stand, chasing a doe. He came by so fast, I couldn’t get my scope on him in time to get a good shot.”
Earlier that morning, Skeeter had heard some dogs making a ruckus down in a swampy area not far from where he had been hunting. He figured they had probably been chasing deer. He knew the big buck frequented this swamp, and he could still hear the occasional barking of a dog.
“I don’t think the big one is going anywhere near that swamp with those dogs in there,” Skeeter told Glenda. “So I think I’m gonna change stands. I’m gonna get in that real high stand over by the corn field.”
Skeeter would have bet money that neither he nor Glenda would see the big buck again that day. But he certainly had high hopes for the future. After all, there could be little doubt that the buck was living on this property. Mr. Roy had seen him many times out in the corn field. With much resolve, Skeeter headed down to his high stand.
Missing the big buck two weeks earlier had been both humiliating and embarrassing.
“I had every intention of hunting him until I got him,” Skeeter remembers. “But I never dreamed I’d see him again so soon. When I got up in the high stand, I decided to smoke a cigarette. No sooner had I lit up when I heard a tremendous racket down in a thicket by some large oak trees. I looked down, and there he was! He had his head down in some vines. He was twisting and tearing those vines apart with his antlers something awful!
“Then out walked a doe (probably the same doe Glenda had seen). He came out of the thicket into the open after her. By this time, I had put my cigarette down and raised my rifle. I had always heard that deer never look up. But I’m here to tell you, that big buck stopped and looked straight up at me. My stand must have been 30 to 40 feet off the ground, but he was looking dead at me, and I knew he wouldn’t stand there long. I carefully aimed my rifle and whispered, ‘Well, big guy, this is it….’”
It was a long shot, about 70 yards, much longer than Skeeter had estimated. Being almost a straight-on shot. Skeeter aimed for the buck’s white throat patch. The Marlin .30/30 roared, and the big buck dropped in his tracks with a broken neck.
Skeeter’s wide-spreading trophy sported a huge non-typical rack with 19 scorable points that measured over one inch in length. In addition, the awesome rack possessed at least 20 smaller points — mostly burr points — that did not quite measure an inch in length. Although these shorter points were not eligible to be measured for the record book because of their length, Skeeter counted 39 points that you could “hang a ring on.”
The inside spread of the Monroe County monster measured 21 2/8 inches. The typical portion of the heavy rack was actually 5×5 in configuration, but the fourth tine on the right side happened to be one of those shorter points that did not quite measure one inch in length. So Skeeter’s bull of the woods was later scored as a main-framed 5×4 with an addition total of 10 non-typical points. Two of those non-typical points were drop tines, giving the huge rack a very imposing appearance. Both brow tines measured over 7 inches in length, and several of the primary times measured over 10 inches in length.
Everyone who saw Skeeter’s unbelievable trophy, including Gerald Kirsey, the local game warden, told Skeeter that his buck had to be some kind of record. Skeeter was also told that the state of Georgia sponsored an annual “Big Deer Contest.” First prize was a brand-new deer rifle. Like most hunters in those days, Skeeter had little interest in the record book, but the idea of winning a new rifle was very appealing.
Thinking his trophy would be a shoe-in for first place, he took the antlers to the Game and Fish Commission in Atlanta to be scored for the contest. Because of its numerous points, Skeeter’s trophy had to be measured as a non-typical. This was something new in Georgia. Up until this time in Georgia’s relatively young deer program, very few non-typical bucks had been taken across the state, and almost none of this caliber. Skeeter was told that his buck scored somewhere in the high 170s as a non-typical. However, at that time, there were no provisions in the Big Deer Contest for non-typical antlers. There were only two categories in the contest — one for the largest rack (typical), and the other for the heaviest field-dressed weight. Much to his disappointment, Skeeter was told that a typical buck from Dougherty County killed by a hunter named J.P. Flournoy and scoring 173 1/8 points would therefore be declared the contest winner.
Ironically, another huge non-typical buck had also been killed a few weeks earlier that same year. Actually, this second buck was much larger than Skeeter’s buck. R. H. Bumbalough, of Stone Mountain, shot a massive buck in Newton County scoring 197 3/8 non-typical points. Bumbalough also tried to enter his buck in the Big Deer Contest. Much to his chagrin, he, too, was told that the Dougherty County buck would be the winner.
(Note: The Big Deer Contest was later expanded to include a non-typical category. If there had been a non-typical division in the contest in 1969 when both of the giant deer were killed, R. H. Bumbalough’s buck would have clearly been the winner. Although very poor records were kept back in those days, Bumbalough’s buck actually became the state record in the non-typical division, a position it held until 1973 when it was beaten by John Hatton’s massive buck that scored 240 5/8 points, taken just a few miles southwest of the spot where Skeeter killed his buck in Monroe County.)
Had his trophy been properly weighed, Skeeter might well have won the weight division of the contest. It was estimated that the live weight of his massive buck was at least 300 pounds. But he never thought to have the deer weighed, so he lost out on both counts.
Indeed Skeeter’s huge trophy had a body to match its antlers. He and Glenda owned a 1965 Mustang. The carcass of the big buck was so heavy that they had to get help lifting it up and stretching it across the back of the Mustang.
Skeeter enjoyed quite a bit of notoriety around his home in Flovilla for killing the “grandfather of all bucks.” Several newspaper articles were written about his accomplishment. The trophy was mounted by Tom Kitchens, a well-known and respected taxidermist who mounted several of Georgia’s biggest bucks during the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Because of the confusion surrounding non-typical trophies back in 1969, Skeeter was never given an official score sheet when he tried to enter the Big Deer Contest. Years later, in 1983, a friend took the vintage mount to the Buckarama in Atlanta. There, it was officially measured by Dick Whittington, tallying up a final score of 178 3/8 non-typical B&C points. Although it was just over 16 points shy of qualifying for the all-time record book, few would argue that this outstanding trophy is not one of Georgia’s greatest vintage bucks.
“I felt like he was almost a friend,” Skeeter says, remembering that golden day in November ’69 as if it were yesterday. “I did see another big buck on that same property several years later. I’m convinced he was much bigger than my buck, and I’m sure he would have made the record book. But I never got a shot at him, and to my knowledge, no one ever killed him.
“I’m not complaining, though. We sure had some great times back in those days!”
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