Statewide Deer Reports From The 2007 Gun Opener
Opening Day Hunt Reports From Your County
The 2007 Georgia gun season for deer is under way!
GON heard about several good bucks that were taken over the weekend, despite complaints of hot, dry weather. The best buck we heard about was one from Rockdale County. The buck had been photographed prior to bow season and e-mailed all over the state. Thomas Pigge killed the buck, which will gross in the 160s. See photo to the right.
Here are the opening-weekend reports from GON’s Hunting Advisors on the deer activity and the condition of food sources across Georgia.
Chattooga Co.: This is the first year Chattooga County hunters will be allowed to take does all season long. Even so, Big Bob’s Wild Game Processing in Summerville reported a slow opening weekend.
“I was disappointed with the turnout over the weekend, especially since it was doe days” said Big Bob Shaver, who has handed the business over to his son-in-law, Chris McGraw. “The weather’s just not right. It’s still too hot.”
The 33 deer that were brought in, mostly does, were small-bodied deer, and there wasn’t a lot of fat on them. The severe drought and the late spring frost appear to have hit food sources pretty hard. Hunters reported a few acorns down, but not many.
Hunters who saw bucks said the deer have broken out of bachelor groups, but they are not showing signs of the rut.
“If we have us a real good frost, that’s when it’s going to kick in,” Big Bob said.
Madison Co.: Mike Harris of Athens said the deer have plenty to eat. “Our iron-clay peas and corn are getting absolutely hammered,” he said. For acorns, water oaks and white oaks are producing best. “Based on opening-day weekend, it looks like the deer are hitting acorns in the mornings and food plots in the evening. We had a great persimmon crop this year, but they’re almost gone. The deer didn’t move until 8:30 or so on Saturday morning and even later on Sunday. The deer are in pre-rut. The smaller bucks were chasing around a bit and sparring. We are finding a few small scrapes and smaller pines and cedars that have rubbing activity. We are a week or two behind where we’ve been over the past two seasons when we have seen bigger deer chasing does on opening weekend, probably because of the heat wave and drought this year.”
Gordon Co.: Nancy Sheriff at Sheriff’s Deer Cooler and Processing said they had an average opening weekend and took in about 100 deer. “We didn’t take in any outstanding deer, but there were some decent racks,” she said. “The does look like they are in good shape. We were a little worried after the late freeze. Bow season was off for us, it was too hot.”
Habersham Co.: Justin Sieck at Georgia Mountain Processing in Mt. Airy said that with the first doe days on opening day in the county they had a very good weekend. “There are no hooks left in the cooler,” said Justin. “They slammed them pretty good.” Bucks in the area seem to be a bit behind schedule. “Hunters said they saw a lot of skinned bushes, but few scrapes,” he said. “The deer are not looking that great. The late freeze pretty much wiped out the acorns around here. They are very spotty. The does aren’t going into the rut in very good condition, and the rut may be delayed. It is probably going to be a weird rut”. Justin said that with a rising moon, the morning hunting was best — following the end of archery season where afternoon hunting was the most productive. The biggest buck brought in over opening weekend was a 9-pointer that would score in the 130s.
Madison/Oglethorpe Co.: John Seginak of Comer said there are still some persimmons, but that they will be gone soon. “Deer are no longer using the food plots heavy, as it has begun to rain white-oak acorns. I mean, they are flat coming down. Deer are in those oaks early and late in the morning, early and late in the afternoon. If you have patches of acorns dropping heavily, it should be one heck of a next three weeks.” John, who has already killed a monster buck with his bow (see page 18), said he’s seeing a lot of little rubs, and a few scrapes showing up. “If there ever is a cold snap, they should go into over-drive.”
Polk Co.: The hunters coming by Lamar’s Sports Center in Rockmart reported seeing lots of rubs and scrapes in the woods, but the hocks on the two best bucks brought by opening morning were barely turning dark.
Darren Wright of Taylorsville killed a 15-pointer that still had bark in its antlers from rubbing three trees just before Darren shot. “There are a lot of rubs in the woods, and a few scrapes,” he said. The tarsal glands on Darren’s buck had barely started to turn.
Another buck killed by Donna Dutton of Aragon had a swollen neck, but its hocks had not turned dark yet.
Ricky Channel, 14, and his brother Hunter, 10, both killed bucks opening-day morning in Polk County. Their dad said very few acorns were coming down where they hunted.
Most hunters reported hunting around field edges, food plots or pine thickets, and several hunters said they picked places because of rubs and scrapes nearby.
Rabun Co.: Dan Brabson who operates Dan’s Processing in Clayton said his opening day was about average for the last three or four years. “Didn’t see any real good racks — a few nice 8-pointers. We have taken in a good many bears — 15 so far, the biggest was a 345-lb. bear. The deer seem to be in good shape, and the hunters say they are finding some acorns at the high elevations. The hunters are talking about finding a lot of rut sign south of here, in Elbert County south, but not up here.”
Gwinnett Co.: The best hunting is yet to come in Gwinnett County. “I have only seen two bucks this year, both the same morning,” said Eric Bruce of Grayson. “The coolest weather of the year so far was on Oct. 12 when it was in the 40s. I was hunting around some red oaks when a young buck chased a doe by my stand. A third deer approached, and by the time I got my bow and spotted him, the 8-pointer was staring at me. He got nervous and walked off. The young buck, a 6-pointer, returned and fed on acorns around my stand for 1 1/2 hours. Twice does came in, and he checked them out but returned to feeding. The does did not appear to be ready yet, though the bucks are checking them out. The rut seems to be yet to come. Some rubs and scrapes have been seen. The main food source I have seen is red-oak acorns.”
Hancock Co.: Alan Swink of Conyers said the deer are hammering the winter-mix food plots on his Hancock land. One of those plots paid off huge for Alan’s son Zack, who killed a big 14-pointer. “That was the only deer he saw, and it was headed straight for one of our food plots,” Alan said. There isn’t a lot of buck sign on the property, but Alan said he found one scrape line with four scrapes three weeks ago.
Morgan Co.: Dwayne Britt of Grayson reports seeing only a few rubs and scrapes so far — not a lot of buck sign yet. He also said the acorns are sparse on his property. “Only a few trees have acorns this year. I haven’t found any white oaks with acorns, and only a few red oaks are producing. The last persimmons are falling, and food plots are holding up but continue to need rain,” Dwayne said. “A 10-pointer was shot during muzzleloader season in the morning and appeared to have come to a few calls from a grunt tube and a bleet.”
Oconee Co.: The deer activity has really picked up since the weather has started to cool down, reports Brandon Colquitt of Athens. “Only problem I’ve been having is where to concentrate the deer. There are way too many white-oak acorns. There are more this year than I have ever seen in one season. I have taken four does so far with my bow, including one on opening morning of gun season. Only heard four shots till 9:30 on opening morning. That is unheard of. I can remember hunting as a kid and hearing 50 to 60 shots easily and doe days weren’t open back then. The deer are hammering my food plots, and the remaining persimmons as well. I have taken two in the hardwoods and two on the food plots,” Brandon said. “Most of my deer sightings have come in the afternoon. Buck sign is starting to pop up everywhere — lots of small rubs and scrapes, but I haven’t seen any chasing yet. It should bust wide open in the next couple of weeks.”
Troup Co.: Chris Godfrey at Gun Country Outdoors said the acorn crop is booming. He’s got white-, red- and water-oak acorns everywhere.
“People are seeing deer,” said Chris.
David Lock killed a 135-inch 11-pointer that was feeding on acorns. Mike Patillo killed a Harris County 10-pointer that will score in the 140s, according to Chris. Mike reported that the big buck was chasing a doe. Mike saw several other bucks, and they were all in the cruising mode, grunting as they went.
Walton Co.: “If you can find white oaks or red oaks, you’re in luck,” said Dwayne Britt of Grayson. “The only trees that appear to be producing acorns are water oaks, and they seem to be producing well, but they’re not a favorite for the deer. Food plots are doing well and getting some deer activity in the evening or mid day. Early stages of the rut appear to be starting with young bucks following does and a club member shot an 8-pointer that was fighting with another buck. The buck’s tarsal glands were not very black, and its neck was not swollen. Very little buck sign has been seen at this time.”
Camden Co.: Bo Russell of St. Simons filed a report after the primitive-weapons opener on Oct. 13. “The rut is in full swing,” Bo said. “All seven hunters in our group pulled their triggers at a deer. Now getting their guns to fire was another matter! All-in-all, three bucks, three does and two hogs were shot. There are plenty of every kind of acorns falling now, and we all saw bucks chasing does. It should be a fantastic opening weekend in Camden if we can survive the mosquitoes.”
Decatur Co.: John Cofty Jr. said that even though the drought hit their food plots hard, they have a better-than-average stand of peas and tropical corn. “We have just started planting white cahaba vetch, sweet blue lupine mixed with horizon 474 oats, and also buck brunch that has had a little rain and has jumped out of the ground,” John said. “We thought the drought would have put a damper on the acorn trees and sawtooth, but they have turned out awesome. We are seeing some good bucks in velvet, and it looks like we have a good birth rate this year — we have seen several sets of twins and several single fawns,” John said.
Emanuel Co.: Reports of big bucks down were pretty frequent over the weekend in this east-central Georgia county. A big 15-pointer was killed between Swainsboro and Twin City. A Florida hunter shot the deer and already had it caped and was gone before GON could get to the deer.
“It’s going on right now,” said Brad Hooks of Nunez. “Between four of us, we saw 75 deer opening day. The bucks I saw had their noses to the ground.”
Brad’s wife, Diane, shot an 8-pointer opening-day afternoon.
“When I shot him he just dropped right in his tracks,” said Diane. “A few minutes later a 6-pointer came up and just kept looking at him, walking off and then coming back. Later a 4-pointer came by and did the same thing.”
Deer sightings were high on opening-day morning in western Emanuel County. On the Flat Creek Hunting Club, four of the members GON spoke with saw bucks. Mark Canady, who was hunting with his wife, Shannon, saw a good buck. He shot and missed the buck. One minute later Ed Davis saw the same buck running wide open headed into a thicket. Trent Hall had deer all over him opening weekend, seeing multiple does and bucks each time to the stand.
The entire weekend was a deer parade at Tim’s Deer Processing in Swainsboro.
“We took between 300 and 350,” said William Boatright at Tim’s. “We probably had 200 or 250 last year on opening weekend. The evenings were better.”
Chris Pope of Swainsboro took an 8-pointer opening-day evening. He was hunting a fallow field and watched as the buck eased out of a thicket. Chris said he saw some bucks sparring during muzzleloader week and reports plenty of rubs and scrapes.
“The rut should be on schedule,” said Chris. “The next two weeks should be good.”
William at Tim’s Deer Processing agrees. He saw plenty of bucks with black hocks and swollen necks.
“We caped out more bucks than we ever have on opening weekend,” said William. “It’s on right now. One more cold snap, and it’ll be kick it in some more.”
Johnson Co.: At noon on opening day, the thermometer — in the shade — at Frost Deer Processing read 80 degrees. Hunters discussed hot weather and dry conditions being several ingredients for the lack of big-racked bucks. One of the best bucks was taken by a lady; it was a piebald 8-pointer. Frost’s, located north of Kite, took in 91 deer over the weekend. Last year, they took in 89 deer.
Eric Flowers said he saw plenty of deer over the weekend, but he’s holding out for a sure-enough wall-hanger.
“The little bucks are already chasing,” said Eric. “I think this next weekend (Oct. 27-28) will be the start of the pre-rut. The big deer will get moving good by the first of November. There’s rubs and scrapes everywhere.”
Eric said the persimmons are gone, and there’s a bumper crop of water oaks. The white-oak acorns are scarce.
Macon Co.: There were plenty of people at the annual opening-day Oglethorpe Deer Day Classic, but only three deer made it to the scales. All three hunters went home with $100.
According to hunters at the Classic, plenty of water-oak acorns are on the ground in Macon County, but two of the deer taken were killed in green fields and the third was feeding in a soybean field.
The one buck that made it to the contest, a 10-pointer with an 18-inch spread, was killed by James Bodrey of Oglethorpe. Its neck was swollen, and its tarsals were black and smelly. James said the deer had a good scrape and several rubs around his stand.
He caught sight of the deer at first light in a grown-over field.
“I don’t know how long he had been there, but when daylight came he was in that field,” James said.
Tattnall Co.: “It’s been very slow,” said David Newlin of Richmond Hill. “I found a fair amount of scrape activity after that rain last Thursday. Acorns are everywhere. There’s food everywhere. Ten years ago we’d average three deer a sitting. This year I’ve seen three deer all season. I didn’t hear much shooting at all.”
Turner/Worth Co.: Michael Lee of Southern Outdoor Adventures Television said the deer are moving a little better with the cooler weather. “They are feeding strong on acorns right now, with the majority being water oaks. They are also hitting the food plots, as well as persimmons. I saw a 140-class 10-point the opening morning of muzzleloader season heading right for a group of persimmon trees. Still seeing lots of does with fawns, some still have spots also. Most of what we have seen so far are small bucks and does. The scraping activity is starting to pick up. I actually found a fresh one made yesterday morning off of one of our food plots. If the weather will stay cool, the rut could be strong this year,” Michael said.
Jay Chambless of Albany shot a Worth County 8-pointer with his bow opening-day afternoon. The 4 1/2-year-old deer stunk like a rutting buck, but his hocks were just barely black. Jay was covered up with deer over the weekend, but a good number of folks he talked to didn’t do so well.
“We have some green fields, and that’s where they were coming to,” said Jay. “If you can find an oak in the middle of a pine stand, you can set up and do well, but if you’re just hunting oak woods, the deer are so scattered out. I’ve never in my life seen acorns falling like they are right now. Red and water oaks are doing real well.”
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