Small Tract Georgia Management Pays Off With 17-Point Buck Of A Lifetime

W. Lawren Wells | November 24, 2020

This hunt story encompasses the importance of what quality deer management is. The story of Mr. Donald Davis’ 17-year-long endeavor in growing mature whitetails is one that is both inspiring and rewarding. It tells the story of a man who actively engages in the pursuit of mature whitetails, a man who doesn’t just enjoy the taking of an impressive animal… but the process of allowing those animals to grow to their full potential.

Donald Davis first bought his 73-acre tract in Thomas County nearly 17 years ago. Once he had acquired the land, he immediately began to inquire his neighbors about quality deer management in an attempt to get them all on the same page. At the time, he would only have one other neighbor come to agreeance with him, a man who owned a strip of property between Donald’s and a plantation where they also managed their deer. This would soon prove to be a key factor in their process of growing mature whitetail bucks.

Donald began his hunt story with this gnarly buck in the spring of 2019. The buck that he would end up taking had bachelored with a young 9-point up until the rut. As the 2019 season would go on, they would only end up seeing the two bucks late in the evening, right before dusk. He eventually collected a handful of trail-cam pictures of the two bucks sparring and middling in the dark at night. At the time, Donald was hunting through the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center in north Florida with his youngest son Caleb. They agreed that the oldest son, Donald III, would have free range to hunt the buck at their family tract in Thomas County.

Donald Davis with his Thomas County 17-point buck taken on a small tract where he was able to quality manage with the help of an understanding with several neighboring property owners.

The season came and went without Donald III being able to take the buck. A week after the end of the season in mid-January, they got a picture of the buck and were relieved to know he had survived. Then, he disappeared. He was a ghost. Ultimately, none of the Davis’ would see the buck again until the morning of Thursday, Nov. 19… the morning that Donald had waited 42 years for.

Donald began hunting this season in the deer woods on Saturday, Nov. 15 after it had begun to cool down.

“I’m not one to fight mosquitoes. I used to when I was younger, but I’ve gotten wiser,” Donald said.

They hunted both Saturday and Sunday and had good action. They were seeing deer, both bucks and does. Monday came, and Donald and his sons were not able to hunt. Donald then decided that if he were going to get in the stand, this was the week that he would have to do so. He got permission from his wife and children to hunt in the mornings before work. His family made the proper adjustments to get to school and work on time without Donald, thus allowing him to get into the stand.

Tuesday morning, Donald saw a single doe, and Wednesday morning, he was skunked. Thursday the 19th, that changed. Donald was walking to his ground blind in the dark and spooked a deer. He got to his blind and sat down in his lawn chair. Under the darkness, he could make out the sound of the deer that he had spooked crunching on the feed that he had previously placed in front of his blind. Before Donald could identify the animal, it crept off to his right and out of sight.

After some light had begun to shine, Donald recognized a doe moving toward him from the direction in which that unidentified deer had crept off. At 7:15, the doe began to feed around in front of him. Donald watched the doe turn to the right, staring into an area of the plot that was obstructed from Donald’s view from within the ground blind. Knowing the doe was clearly watching something come from the brush on the right, Donald leaned forward in the edge of his seat, and he could just see the long tines of the buck’s left antler. He leaned back into his seat and cocked the hammer of his 30-30.

Donald slowly turned his body and aimed the rifle at the 203-lb. body of the buck. He had a clear view of the buck’s neck and chest. He placed his sights at the base of the neck, so to fragment the deer’s heart and lungs. He squeezed the trigger, and the massive buck stood there for nearly a second. The doe, which was only 20 yards in front of Donald, ran between the buck and him. The buck followed after her for 60 yards and stopped just in view of Donald. Having re-chambered, unsure if he had successfully punched the first shot into the buck. Donald set his sights again, aiming through a basketball-sized hole in the briars and brambles in which the buck was standing. Donald put a second shot into the buck’s shoulder, and he immediately dropped.

A taxidermist put a tape on the rack of Donald’s 17-point buck and came up with just under 180 total inches. With split brows and a big split G2 on the right side, the buck might score better as a non-typical after the 60-day drying period when it’s officially measured.

“He was dead before him or I even knew it, but with that second shot, I couldn’t just let him walk off.”

“I got to him, and I was shaking… worse than I ever had before,” he said.

After taking a couple pictures, he got on the phone and called his wife, Kim.

“I got him!!!”

Then he started to hyperventilate… and then, he started to cry. He told his wife, “It has taken 42 years to get to this moment in my life.”

Donald went to tell me, “That’s a lot of watching ’em walk, a lot of chasing ’em here and yonder, traveling. That’s a lot of time spent and money spent through the years to make this happen at this moment. There’s a lot of bucks out there that are bigger than mine, but mine are bigger than most!”

After we finished the hunt story, Donald began to tell me some of the history of their deer management program on their property. With his two sons and daughter all being hunters as well, he explained how he has introduced them to quality deer management. Donald has let each of his children take their choice on their first deer. Beyond that first deer, he explained that, “They know on our property, you have to kill an 8-point or better, with mass.”

He told me of a story that happened when they first moved to their property in Thomas County.

“About 15 years ago, I had a deer show up in my front yard. He was a super nice 12-point. He dwarfed the two bucks that were standing beside him. He had 10-inch forked brow tines. This deer I just killed has forked brow tines. That’s genetics.”

He told me what he tells all other hunters, “Just leave the small ones alone, I’ve seen what they can turn into.”

Donald’s buck was aged at 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years old by a taxidermist in Thomasville. This news absolutely shocked both Donald. The buck weighed  more than 200 pounds, but his teeth had crisp edges and little wear. Donald had compared the pictures of the buck from the previous season, and the buck was still gigantic as a 2 1/2 year old.

“Just imagine what that buck would’ve been if he had made it another year.”

The buck was green-scored as a 17-point at 179 6/8 total inches. The buck’s left G2 measures 10 6/8 inches, and its right G2 is 10 4/8. The left G3 is 10 inches, and the right is 9 2/8. Two of the 17 points are symmetrical knobs at the base of each forked brow tine. The buck has an odd tine shooting off of its right G2 that stands even with the G2 and G3. On the opposite side, the buck has a similar development coming off of the G2 that’s about an inch and half long. This buck has an inside spread of 18 2/8 inches.

Editor’s Note: Donald’s buck was officially measured and scored 172 7/8 non-typical.

Mr. Donald told me stories of hunting with his three children. He spoke of holding the rifle for his daughter, Lauren, and laughing because he was shaking just as much as she was.

“When you see that deer and that heart stops pounding, you better find something new to do.”

Mr. Donald first started deer hunting when he was 11 years old. He explained how he did not see a deer in the woods until he was 17 years old. He shot the very first deer he saw. Now, he’s able to share moments with his children in the woods, watching these animals that at one point he never saw, grow into beautiful, mature and exemplary examples of white-tailed deer. It’s stories like these that should inspire us all to give back to these creatures, because they give so much more to us. Whether it’s sharing a moment with your loved ones, or bagging the buck of a lifetime, a day in the pursuit of these awe-inspiring creatures are never wasted, not for a second.


Thomas County All-Time Record Bucks

1178 5/8 Clyde E. Anderson1969ThomasGun
2202 3/8 (NT)Rolf Kauka1991ThomasGunView 
3164 3/8 John Mitchell2012ThomasGun
4162 4/8 Kenneth Harvey1995ThomasGun
5158 Rick Whitley2001ThomasGun
6157 3/8 Miles Parramore2023ThomasGunView 
7156 4/8 Ray King1993ThomasGun
8179 3/8 (NT)Dennis Taylor1999ThomasGun
9156 2/8 Ray Thompson1992ThomasGun
10155 2/8 Ken O’Neal2005ThomasGun



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