The Hunt For Stickers, A Brooks County Bruiser
Let bucks get to 5 1/2 years old.... very tough to do, but it resulted in this 19-pointer growing more than 180 inches of antler.
By Jeff Worn
Growing up in south Georgia, hunting whitetail deer, wood ducks, dove, quail and turkeys has always been a huge part of my life. We have a family farm south of Quitman I grew up hunting on, and it’s always had a healthy population of deer, but I could have never imagined it would produce something like this buck.
About four years ago my father Jim and I were able to piece together enough land with our neighbors to implement a similar management/habitat philosophy we felt could start to have an impact. With the help of Jason Rex and Jeremy Davis, the managers at our family’s farm which is named Eudora, we were able to start a very robust management program we felt would help us grow and retain good bucks. One of our neighbors is a good friend named Matt Bridgewater, and through all our work we decided that we really wanted to try to let bucks get to 5.5 years old before shooting. Obviously, that means letting deer with attractive racks for south Georgia walk at 4.5 not knowing if you will ever see them again, but that’s what we decided, and we were sticking to it.
The second year we were in our program was 2019. That was the first year I noticed a buck we named “Stickers.” I judged him at 3.5 although his body really had me thinking 2.5. He just had too much horn to be 2.5. We got several pictures of him in velvet and out of velvet, which ultimately led to me getting a look at him on the hoof. When I passed him, it was the first time I had passed a south Georgia “shooter” knowing a neighbor not in line with our program could possibly shoot him the next day. But it felt great. I felt like it was the true start to growing bigger deer.
Then the neighbors in the program started seeing good young bucks and letting them walk as well, and we were on our way to at least doing everything we could to grow mature bucks. Last year I had decided I wasn’t going after him before the season started. He wasn’t 5.5, and after letting him walk the year prior, I wasn’t about to shoot him now. BUT, it was hard. He grew a ton. We estimate he was in the 170s. There was also a bruiser 9-point last season that I really wanted to kill, as I felt he was old enough, but once I got a look at him, I let him walk too.
I was having as much fun watching these deer grow as I was killing them at that point.
Then this year comes around. We had Stickers aged at 5.5 based off our first picture in 2019 at 3.5, and it was time to hunt him. This buck has always been pretty camera shy, so it wasn’t rare to go a week without getting a picture, but this year was different. I think we only got five to 10 pictures of him all year, and he was all over the place, which was not normal for him given the time of year. So honestly, I didn’t have anything to go off to form a strategy.
The 9-point from last year was also back this year and better, so I was really going after him, as he was much more huntable, and he was 5.5 if not older.
We hadn’t hunted much at all until the last couple of weeks as it’s been so hot, but last week just felt good. With the rain coming on Wednesday night, Oct. 27, I wanted to get in the stand to hunt the 9 from last year, but I couldn’t get out of the office until around 4:30 which was pushing it. When I got to our barn, the wind was wrong for the stand I wanted to hunt, and it was 5 p.m. I had to make a game-time decision to go to a different stand, and now in retrospect I have never been happier for an east wind.
I parked my truck a good distance from the stand and started my walk in. About halfway to the stand I noticed a doe/yearling pair in the road and let them feed off before proceeding. It was roughly 5:10. I got in the stand about 5:20, and all I could think was the deer are up early and it’s hot. At about 5:40 I noticed another doe/yearling pair just cruising through the woods. In what felt to be another uneventful afternoon, I was on my phone texting about work feeling like I needed to be somewhere off in the woods “where the bucks live” and not sitting on this food plot of standing corn texting about work. Then at about 6:15 I looked out of the left window of my Redneck Blind and there was a nice frame buck at about 150 to 175 yards. At first without my binos I thought he was a young 10 we had gotten on camera a few nights prior, but as soon as I pulled them to my eyes I knew. It was Stickers — in broad daylight walking into the corn broadside at 175 yards give or take.
My heart started pounding hard. Really hard. I was so excited I flipped my gun off safety without doing it slowly, and he stopped to look in my direction. I told myself to get it together and slow down.
He stepped out in a shooting lane a few seconds later, and I squeezed the trigger of my Mcwhorter 6.5 PRC aimed at his shoulder, and he dropped. I couldn’t believe it. I shucked another shell in my gun and kept the crosshairs on him for 10 minutes before getting down. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.
Once I got to him, it was hard to contain the emotion. I have hunted on this farm since I was old enough to sit in the stand with my father, and I just killed a monster that we grew. Once I put my hands on him and started to move him a little, I noticed he was light. Like, not just a small body, but something was wrong. Once Jason, Jeremy and I got done high fiving and celebrating we noticed he had two large gashes on his side, his sternum was broken, and he was down to 145 pounds. Not sure if it was a bad fight or if he got hit by a car or what, but he was not in good shape at all. Deer are surprisingly tough as we all know, but I don’t think he would have made it to the end of the year.
The rack sets up as a main-frame 5×6 with an additional 8 abnormals and sticker points. The main beams were taped at 25 inches, the inside spread is right at 20 inches, and the circumferences at the bases are 5 6/8 inches. All total, the buck’s rack has more than 180 inches of antler.
I am so thankful to be the one who shot him, but everyone including our neighbors played a role in this. I could not be more thankful to Jeremy and Jason for all their hard work and my father for giving me the land to hunt on. It was amazing in every way, and I can’t wait to grow more with our group and my sons.
Brooks County All-Time Record Bucks
Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo 1 186 2/8 Roger Price 2018 Brooks Gun View 2 175 7/8 Joseph J. Freeman 1978 Brooks Gun 3 174 6/8 Donald Vinson 2011 Brooks Gun View 4 173 3/8 Michael Holland 2011 Brooks Gun View 5 172 2/8 Charles Mitchell III 2016 Brooks Gun View 6 195 2/8 (NT) Donald Duren 1970 Brooks Gun View 7 168 7/8 Mickey Tillman 2000 Brooks Gun 8 167 1/8 Roger Meeks Jr. 1991 Brooks Gun 9 165 4/8 Billy Joe Lovett 2012 Brooks Gun View 10 164 1/8 Justin Price 2009 Brooks Gun View
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