The Culpepper Buck
Fletcher Culpepper’s Worth County 22-point buck will net about 233 inches, the third-best Georgia non-typical buck of all-time.
Having acquired a new deer hunting lease in Worth County, Danny Culpepper and his sons, Fletcher and Trevor, spent September and early October scouting and bowhunting the property. Each of the men eventually selected a primary stand location.
Danny elected to skip opening weekend of firearms season, but his sons hunted both days, with somewhat mixed results. While Trevor sighted a number of deer, including a couple of small bucks, Fletcher encountered only a doe and yearling. Additionally, on Sunday, just before dark, Trevor heard a loud clashing of antlers and the commotion of two bucks fighting within a few hundred yards of his stand.
Off from work due to recent shoulder surgery, Fletcher returned to the location Monday morning. On this occasion, he accepted his brother’s invitation to hunt his stand, where the bucks had been heard fighting.
“Shortly after daybreak, I saw a small 8-pointer, but that was all,” Fletcher said. “I knew my dad’s stand hadn’t been hunted the entire weekend, so around nine o’clock I decided to climb down and walk in that direction.”
Following a woods road bordering a block of large pines, the hunter slowly and quietly slipped toward the stand location. Twenty yards from the ladder stand, he abruptly stopped, as the body of a deer moved past an opening in the brush surrounding an adjacent food plot.
“I finally managed to see that the deer was a doe, but I couldn’t determine if there were other deer nearby,” Fletcher said. “I attempted to climb into the stand, but halfway up the ladder, the doe spotted my movement, causing me to immediately freeze in position.”
Cramped and uncomfortable, the hunter’s predicament got even worse when a huge buck suddenly stepped into view alongside the doe. Unable to move, he continued to watch the deer until they disappeared.
“The buck really did me a favor by distracting the doe’s attention,” Fletcher said. “And once the buck walked into view, I began shaking so bad there’s no way I could have made an accurate shot. As soon as the deer were out of sight, I climbed the rest of the way into the stand.”
Approximately 100 yards in front of the stand, a dense thicket of brush, saplings and honeysuckle covered the upper end of a hardwood drain. Prior to the season, while establishing a food plot, the hunters also mowed a lane through the middle of the thicket. Fletcher knew the buck and doe had been heading in the direction of the drain, but he had no way of knowing if they had continued on or were still somewhere nearby.
“I was really unsure what to do,” Fletcher said. “I had a Primos ‘Buck Roar’ call with me I had used over the past three years with varying results, but it seemed a little early in the season for a grunt call. On the other hand, I thought about the bucks Trevor had heard fighting and decided it was worth a try.”
Less than a minute after blowing the call, Fletcher spotted movement about 90 yards away along the brushy edge of the cut lane. Within seconds, he saw the buck’s head and neck appear.
“I was fighting a losing battle with my nerves,” Fletcher said. “I had the rifle braced against the stand, but I knew I had to wait for the entire deer to step into the open before I could shoot. My immediate problem was that my excited breathing kept fogging up the scope.”
After what seemed like forever, the buck took a couple of steps forward. Once the deer’s shoulder cleared the undergrowth, Fletcher squeezed the trigger, and the big whitetail hit the ground.
“Until I walked to where the deer was lying, I honestly had no idea how big the rack was,” Fletcher said. “There really aren’t words to describe my feelings at that moment.”
Official antler measurements and score cannot be recorded until after a required 60-day drying period. However, a few unofficial statistics reveal the rack’s amazing size.
The massive rack has 22 scorable points, 14 of which comprise a 7×7 typical frame. The inside spread is 22 inches and all eight circumference measurements fall between 7 and 5 inches. The typical 14-point frame nets 202 1/8, and after adding in the eight abnormal points, totaling 31 1/8 inches, the final unofficial non-typical net score stands at 233 2/8.
After the required drying period, it is likely this figure will fluctuate slightly up or down; however, there is no doubt the final official score will rank the buck as the biggest non-typical ever taken in Worth County and No. 3 on the state’s all-time list of non-typical whitetails.
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