11 Truck-Buck Hunt Stories

Meet the first half of the 2019 Truck-Buck contest Shoot-Out field, and hear about the awesome Georgia bucks that got them there.

Daryl Kirby | May 30, 2019

Eighteen weekly and four wildcard winners are headed to the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out on Sunday, July 28 at the Ag-Pro GON Outdoor Blast. If you’ve never seen a Shoot-Out, make plans to be there.

A Georgia deer hunter will win a new 4X4 pickup truck from John Megel Chevy, and another hunter is going home with a Ultimate Hunting Buggy from Beast 48. The five weekly winners during bow season have already earned $1,100 Mathews Triax bows, the Week 6 winner gets a CVA Accura rifle, and the 11 weekly winners during gun season each get a $1,140 Browning deer rifle. All weekly winners also earned a prize package from Tinks, HSS safety harnesses and Shoot-Out shirts from Realtree.

Let’s meet the first half of this year’s Shoot-Out field. The remaining 11 stories will appear next month.

Week 1: John Lester’s opening day 12-point from Harris County netted 161 4/8. It is Georgia’s No. 9 typical bow-buck ever.

Week 1: John Lester
County: Harris
Date: Sept. 8
Net Score: 161 4/8 typical

John Lester, 38, will make a return trip to the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out. John won the final scoring period of the 2017-18 contest with a Harris County non-typical 15-pointer that netted 168 1/8. John is back for another Shoot-Out, this time winning Week 1 with an incredible bow-kill.

“I had watched this deer all summer,” John said. “Got on a good daylight pattern and was blessed to have a good wind on opening day. The buck came in at 7:45 p.m. I made a good shot, and I had a short 60-yard recovery.”

The 12-pointer netted 161 4/8. That’s the No. 9 typical bow-buck ever recorded in Georgia.

Incredibly, John also had the highest-scoring buck in Week 10 last season with another Harris County giant, a 10-pointer that netted 152 4/8. Contestants can only win one week per season, so the Week 10 spot in the Shoot-Out goes to Philip Worley.

John had a long history with the Week 10 buck, which had been named “Willy,” short for “will he make it.”

“The story of Willy started three years ago when summer pictures started showing up of a tight racked 2-year-old 10 with great tine length,” John said. “Fast forward to this year, and Willy was a 5-year-old with the same tight tall-tined rack—except this year everything on him was longer and taller! Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a piece of land adjacent to my lease. After purchasing the land, the work began. Fields were cleared, feeders built, controlled burns and finally summer and fall planting. When the summer pictures started coming in, Willy was on my property pretty consistently. On Saturday Nov. 10, I hunted that morning with no sightings of Willy. That afternoon myself and my 4-year-old son Jase went to the property. As the afternoon went on, we watched turkeys and a couple of does feed in the field.

“Just as last light was approaching, I heard a limb snap to the left of the blind. Jase, my son, was sitting in my lap. I had to pick him up and put him on the floor of the blind in order to get the gun out the window of the blind to shoot. I told Jase to plug his ears, and the shot rang out.

“The ironic part of the whole story is when I left the house my wife told me, ‘You will get Willy tonight while Jase is hunting with you.’ She was right!”

Week 2: Andy Johnson with his Emanuel County 10-pointer that scored 135 1/8, the No. 2 bow-buck ever from Emanuel.

Week 2: Andy Johnson
County: Emanuel
Date: Sept. 19
Net Score: 135 1/8 typical

Andy Johnson has read GON magazine for quite a while, but he’s only been a GON members for four years.

“My wife got it for me for Christmas,” Andy said. “I had bought them for years from the convenience store.”

Turned out to be a good gift, saving the family some money with a membership, not to mention it allowed Andy to enter his Week 2 buck.

“This was my first time entering Truck-Buck,” Andy said. “I’ve killed some decent deer over the years, but nothing of this caliber.”

Andy, 33, grew up in Emanuel County. He lives in Adrian, and he’s been hunting basically all his life.

“My daddy and my uncle took me growing up. I love hunting everything, but I really enjoy wingshooting—dove and ducks.”

Andy deer hunts on some family land in Emanuel County, and he leases some land there, too.

“It’s about 800 acres total, and just my wife and myself hunt it, other than maybe taking my niece or someone like that,” Andy said.

“I had known about this buck for several years. He started out as a young 9-point with good potential. In 2017, he was probably 120-inch deer, and I had several chances to kill him and passed him up. He really came in last year. I figured he was 4 1/2 years old, and he was a 140-class buck.”

Andy got a rare second chance at the buck last season.

“Opening week, I missed him. It was the Thursday before I killed him. Shot right over his back. I went dove hunting the next morning, and I was telling my brother-in-law about missing the buck. He had been trying to sell a Mathews Creed bow. He said, ‘I’ll give you this bow.’ I put new cams on it and got the draw length right and got it sighted in. The following Wednesday, I killed the buck with it.”

Andy’s stand was on a 2-acre food plot with forage soybeans, but he said the deer had mowed it down.

“The soybeans worked good. The forage is supposed to come back, but the beans couldn’t keep up with the pressure. I also had a feeder out with soybeans and corn all summer.”

The second Wednesday of the season, Andy got in the stand a little late at about 6:30 p.m.

“A small buck came out, and the whole time he was acting nervous. About 30 minutes before dark, the buck I was hunting came in. After about five minutes, he presented a broadside shot. I knew he was hit as he ran off. I immediately found blood, but he was nowhere in the vicinity. With the help of some great friends (Ken and Kyle Ricks and Justin Johnson) and two dogs, we tracked him approximately 500 yards through planted pines and a brush-filled clearcut for nearly four hours, and we finally found him just before midnight.”

Andy said that Ken and Kyle hunt adjacent property, but they never got pictures of this deer.

“He was staying on me, this was his core area. He disappeared one time during 2016 season, and Justin got a picture 1 1/2 miles away, but he came right back.”

Andy’s 10-pointer netted 135 1/8, and it is the No. 2 bow-kill ever recorded from Emanuel County, according to GON’s official County-by-County rankings.

Week 3: Brooks Young with his Early County buck that scored 139 5/8.

Week 3: Brooks Young
County: Early
Date: Sept. 22
Net Score: 139 5/8 typical

Brooks Young lives in Atlanta and works in real estate development after getting his degree from the University of Alabama. He’s just 27 years old, but this past season he entered his third buck in the Truck-Buck contest.

“I got one scored, but it didn’t win, and the other time it was one of those deals where there was a much bigger deer in the same week, so I didn’t bring it to get measured.”

Brooks hunts in Early County.

“We own a little bit with a cabin on it, and we lease some land with another family that has a place down there, too.

“I grew up hunting in Warren County, but our family lease out there came to an end in 2010.”

Brooks said he was aware of this buck for four years.

“The first year he was a good clean 8-pointer, and then he disappeared after velvet. The next year he disappeared again. The year before last, he was the same 8-pointer, but he grew another main beam. I hunted him the entire season two years ago. I spent every hunt in a hardwood draw where he liked to hang out. He came in twice at 25 yards when it was still legal time to shoot but too dark to see through the peep. The first time I saw him, I was thinking, ‘Holy Cow, he’s just so big it’s ridiculous.’ This season he showed back up in a spot in a clearcut between a bedding area and a big ag field. I hunted him the first two weekends of the season with no luck. I decided to try again the third weekend, and he came by just before dark and presented a broadside 27-yard shot. Thankfully I was able to get a double lung shot, and he ran 65 to 75 yards before going down in the edge of the clearcut.”

Week 4: Rusty Robbins with his amazing buck, the best non-typical ever killed with a bow in Screven County.

Week 4: Rusty Robbins
County: Screven
Date: Sept. 29
Net Score: 159 4/8 non-typical

Rusty Robbins, of Sylvania, earned a spot in the Shoot-Out with the best non-typical buck ever taken with a bow in Screven County. Rusty has been hunting since he was a young boy and took his first deer at the age of 12, thanks to his dad’s instruction. Rusty’s passion for hunting led him to begin Sylvania Sportsman and RPM Land Management. Rusty was bowhunting private land the afternoon of Sept. 29 when he took his winning buck. This hunt was only his third time going after this particular buck because he was trying not to pressure the deer too much.

“I’ve had a long history with this buck,” said Rusty. “I caught him on camera last year but ended up letting him go. He was a main-frame 8 with a kicker that made him a 9, but he had broken off all but about 4 inches of his right antler.”

Rusty figured Saturday afternoon, Sept. 29 was the perfect time for a hunt since a front came through and the deer would up and moving after the rain.

“I was shaking in the stand before any deer even walked out,” he said.

Earlier that week Rusty got pictures of the bruiser buck chasing does, which is exactly the scene that played out under his stand.

“The buck came out with a group of does and one other shooter buck,” said Rusty. “When he came out, the others gave him respect. Then the two bucks started grunting at each other and showing aggression. I knew then I had to take my shot or they were going to square off, and the hunt would be over.”

At 7:20 p.m., he took his shot. The buck ran only 60 to 70 yards through the overgrown food plot and went down. Finally, all Rusty’s hard work and strategic planning paid off.

“It just takes nutrition and birthdays. I thought he was a trophy last year, but it is just mind blowing what one year did to this deer as far as the extra points and mass that he put on.”

Week 5: Dale Henson, of Bethlehem, won Week 5 for the second season in a row with another Barrow County bruiser.

Week 5: Dale Henson
County: Barrow
Oct. 11
Net Score: 149 6/8 non-typical

Dale Henson, 44, of Bethlehem, hunts a 10-acre tract in Barrow County with his crossbow. For the second straight season, Dale killed a great buck to win Week 5 of the contest. His 2017 buck was a 12-pointer that scored 126 3/8. Dale upped the ante last season with another 12-pointer, a non-typical that netted 149 6/8.

“I don’t even know where to begin with this deer! I have thousands of trail-cam photos of him and have chased this deer for four years now,” Dale said. “It’s bittersweet to have taken him and ended this wonderful adventure.

“On Oct. 11, 2018, there were high winds, but they were in my favor, so I decided to hunt him for the first time this season. At around 6 p.m., I climbed my stand and strapped my harness to the tree. Immediately deer began to show up. About 30 minutes into my hunt, I saw a doe to my right. As she began to pass my stand, I saw that he was trailing her.

“He never knew I was in the area and presented me with about a 20-yard broadside shot. I took it, and he ran about 80 yards and fell.

“I have a lot of respect for this deer and what he has taught me over the last four years. I hope that now I can give him the recognition the he deserves.”

Week 6: Quint Hartley, 14, with his Jones County buck that nets 154 even.

Week 6: Quint Hartley
County: Jones
Oct. 18
Net Score: 154 0/8 typical

He’s just 14 years old, and Quint Hartley, of Gray, has a buck under his belt the caliber of which many Georgia hunters will never see. It didn’t come by accident or luck. Quint put in lots of hunts and showed lots of restraint. This was his first antlered buck.

“I’ve killed about 10 does, and I’ve let a ton of bucks pass by before I decided to shoot this one,” Quint said. “I was hoping for a big buck, letting the small ones get older.”

If that ideal seems mature for a 14-year-old, it’s not the only area where Quint gives that impression. He didn’t sound like the typical teen during his interview with GON for this article. For one, he could have an intelligent conversation on the phone—a lost art it seems with many of the youth these days. And we were interrupting his summer job—he’s working outside in this heat all day.

Quint is home-schooled along with a bunch of his friends, taking classes through Veritas Classical Schools. Next year he’s going to Covenant Academy in Macon.

Quint had some motivation to pass up smaller bucks. They’ve had the big buck that earned him a Week 6 win on camera for several years. He finally got his shot at the buck on Thursday evening, Oct. 18, during the Special Opportunity/Primitive Weapons week when kids can hunt with rifles.

“I was in a clearcut where we have a food plot, sitting against a tree along the edge. I wasn’t in a blind or anything like that, just sitting against a tree,” Quint said. “He came up out of the woods at about 40 yards. At first I just saw the body, and then he came out, and I was a little freaked out. I was looking at the horns and trying to count points. I knew he was big, but I kept trying to count the points over and over. Finally I said, ‘That’s him.’

“He fed for maybe two minutes in the food plot. Then he heard a doe or something and started to trot back into the woods. I made a ‘bleat’ with my mouth and stopped him, and I shot him directly in the heart.”

Quint’s dad, Bill Hartley, said, “It was a great moment for my son’s first buck. Not only is the rack large, but the body is not like that of a Georgia deer but a Midwest deer. And it was a perfect shot!”

Week 7: Kenny Lowery made the Shoot-Out with a Bartow County buck non-typical that scored 167 1/8.

Week 7: Kenny Lowery
County: Bartow
Oct. 20
Net Score: 167 1/8 non-typical

Kenny Lowery, 57, is a retired Cartersville fireman who’s been a GON member for more than eight years.

“I enjoy the articles, and I knew I had to join in case I was to ever kill something,” Kenny said.

He’s lived in Bartow County his whole life.

“I started out hunting probably at around 10 years old. Daddy took me. That was back when you got up at 4 a.m. and went to hunt around Paulding County and a few places around here.”

“I killed some good Bartow County deer over the year, some in the 120-class. I have a bunch of deer mounted in the house.”

Kenny was hunting a tract he’s leased with some friends for the past seven years. It’s about 300 acres and includes some grown-up pasture where he’s bush hogged some lanes through the thick stuff.

“I did some bush-hogging until 7 that evening before opening day,” Kenny said. “I was sitting in my little home-made shooting house that morning. I looked at my phone, it was 8, and then there come my deer about 130 yards away.

“They come in about three years ago and planted pines that are probably 12- to 15-foot high now. If it’s not where I’ve cut lanes, you can’t see nothing. When I first saw him, he was walking toward me down a bush-hogged lane between the pines. When he got about 60 yards out, he turned to the right, went through the pines, and I lost him. I prayed he kept walking straight. He exited the other side of the pines, so I mouth-grunted, causing him to stop, and I took the shot. He went 40 yards and fell. Once I calmed down, I went down to him and knew that was the biggest buck I’d ever taken. Right place at the right time, daddy always told me.”

Kenny’s dad passed 10 years ago.

“We were real close,” Kenny said. “Anytime I killed a deer, he was the first one I would go by and show. Every time I carried one to him, he would always kid around and say, ‘He’s not bigger than my 10-point.’ Of course, this time he wasn’t there. I was emotional. That’s the first deer I killed when I cried. I thanked the Lord and said, ‘I wish my daddy was here.’ It was a special moment. I’m just very blessed to get this buck. Nothing I did was anything special. No food plots, just natural stuff. I’m just a very lucky and a blessed hunter.”

Kenny’s buck is the best non-typical ever killed in Bartow County.

Week 8: Jeff Everett with his Greene County non-typical that scored 173 6/8.

Week 8: Jeff Everett
County: Greene
Oct. 29
Net Score: 173 6/8 non-typical

Jeff Everett lives in Monroe and works at Standridge Color in Social Circle. He hunts a Greene County tract that’s about 150 acres, property he’s hunted for more than 30 years.

“Back in the day I grew up in the little town of Loganville, Georgia. Like a lot of other little towns, it’s not so little anymore. At the age of 14, I was introduced to deer hunting from a neighbor friend and his dad. Always as a child I loved being outdoors and enjoying God’s Creation. I was always excited about the upcoming deer season and what it had to offer. I hunt a real thick, 15-year-old cutover and have a road cut through it.

“In 2018, the hunting regulation changed and gave me the opportunity to hunt over feeders for deer. I placed my feeder out in June and started feeding wildlife, checking my feeder at least once a week. Up until Oct. 25, I had a few small bucks but nothing to write home about. On the afternoon of the 25th, I checked my camera and out of nowhere I get a few pictures of what is known as a Lifetime Buck. This was on a Friday evening, so I knew I already had plans for the entire weekend away from hunting, and this was going to be a sleepless weekend knowing he was there. On Monday the 28th around lunchtime, something told me to leave that afternoon and give it a try, so I left work around 3:30 p.m. and arrived at the hunting property around 4:15 and carried in a 40-lb. bag of Hysteria Attraction feed. I placed the Hysteria about 30 yards from the feeder around 4:30 p.m., then got placed in my tripod stand. Around 5, my IT guy at work started texting me about the day. After replying to him several times, I look up and standing beside the Hysteria Attraction was the deer of a lifetime that I had on camera. So at 5:03 p.m. it all came together.”

Week 9: Lainee Hudson’s Crawford County buck netted 137 even.

Week 9: Lainee Hudson
County: Crawford
Nov. 9
Net Score: 137 0/8

About the time you read this, Lainee Hudson, of Roberta, is due to be in labor. Her and husband Dan are expecting!

“I grew up in Macon, but there was not a whole lot of hunting going on,” Lainee said. “Dad hunted doves, and I did that with him, but I got into deer hunting when I met Dan 14 years ago. He took me deer hunting, and I fell in love with it.”

The evening of Nov. 9, Lainee was in a stand by herself in a Crawford County field recently planted in pines.

“Dan has not hunted with me since my first deer. Until this year I was a teacher in the classroom. Hunting is my relaxation. I love to hunt by myself.

“We got this deer on camera for about three weeks. Dan had put in a food plot. This was the first time I was able to hunt him. I was watching a little spike when my husband texted me to make sure to look at all areas. So I look to the left, and there was a doe, and he was following her. He was about 150 yards. I waited until he got closer and turned broadside. That was the first deer I’ve ever had drop, which was a great feeling. He was massive. My heart was jumping out of my chest. The rack was just really pretty. This is my best buck, but I entered in 2012 when I was pregnant with Charlotte and came in second in the Ladies Wildcard. I’ve only killed big bucks when I was pregnant. My next biggest buck was when I was pregnant with Lizzy.

“Dan said, ‘No more big bucks for you.’”

Week 10: Philip Worley’s Wilcox County buck netted 150 3/8.

Week 10: Philip Worley
County: Wilcox
Date: Nov. 15
Net Score: 150 3/8 typical

Philip Worley, 38, is the Finance Director for the Wilcox County Board of Education. He’s been married for 13 years and has a 7-year-old daughter.

“I grew up on our family farm of 700 acres here in Wilcox County where I have lived my entire life,” Philip said. “Deer hunting has become my only hobby, since I can work on it close to my home. I am working on it year-round trying to improve the stands, the land, and to just become more successful as a deer hunter.

“I guess I will start with the history of the deer. I had this deer on camera for three years. The odd thing about this one was he would only show up on one camera in one corner of a field for the entire three-year stretch, and I have six to seven cameras running year-round. The other odd thing is the neighbors never got pictures of him either. In 2017, this deer was probably around a 150 gross. I was getting pictures of him constantly. I felt like I had a really good chance to kill him. Well, one week into the season, the neighbors started cutting timber right next to this field. It shut him down from coming there until late December, and it was complete nocturnal activity then. But he did return, and I got frequent pictures of him up until they shed their antlers.”

As the bucks were growing antlers last summer, Philip got no pictures of the big one, that is until July 11.

“I finally got a picture of him. I noticed he had put on a kicker and really just blown up in size. Little did I know, when I finally got a picture of him again in September, he had grown a long unicorn brow tine coming off his left brow tine. Unfortunately, he broke it off two to three weeks before I killed him.

“Now the hunt. I will start with the funny part. This field I am hunting him is only a half mile from my house. My sister, who lives next to me, has a German shorthair dog that is extremely wild. Well, a couple of days before, I hunted this stand and this dog followed me all the way to the stand. So I just had to leave before he ruined the place for future hunts. So on Nov. 15, I leave straight from work, pick up the child from the bus stop, drop her off at grandma’s, run to the house and grab my hunting bag and my rifle, put on my hunting clothes, and drive 5 miles around the block to avoid the dog following me to get to this field. By this time, it is around 5 p.m., and I am basically running to the stand. I finally get to the stand, and I noticed it is extremely windy. And this field has the possibility of having to make a pretty long shot. So I am texting my buddy from the stand who is a long-range shooting expert about wind drift in case he steps out long range. Well, around 5:20, two doe step out about 75 yards below me. I thought it was odd because they never come from my left direction. So, I am texting my buddies that deer are already moving. Well, just after I sent that text, I looked straight to my left in the edge of the field, and there he was. There was no denying what deer I was looking at. I had never seen anything like him from the stand. Well, of course the nerves are high. I grab my rifle and accidentally slam it into the tin roof, making what seemed to be the loudest noise on earth. And this deer of a lifetime is only 90 yards from me straight downwind. Well, I don’t know how, but he didn’t hear it. But by then, my nerves are completely shot. I rushed the shot. And after the shot, my nerves were so bad, I couldn’t even find him in the scope. I finally just put the gun down, stood up and looked over there hill, and saw him laying there. I hit him right in the neck—not intentionally—and dropped him.”

Public-Land Wildcard: Seth Entrekin with his Piedmont NWR buck that scored 137 2/8. He killed the buck with his 40 caliber Glock while scouting a spot.

Public-Land Wildcard: Seth Entrekin
Public Area: Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
Date: Nov. 2, Week 8
Net Score:
137 2/8

Seth Entrekin is a 29-year-old GON member from Bremen.

“My friends and I go on the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge hunt every year,” Seth said. “It’s something I look forward to all year long. This year we were selected for the first gun hunt on Nov. 1-3. It was a very messy trip due to heavy rains and moderate to heavy winds. The morning of Nov. 2, I decided to move my stand location after the hunt due to not seeing anything. My friends were seeing good bucks, and one of my friends had already taken a nice buck. I climbed down and packed up my gear and headed to the truck. I was going to go look at a spot we have had some good luck in years past. As I arrived at the truck, one of the guys in our group had already made it back. I told him where I was going and that I should be back within 20 minutes. I dropped my stand off and all of my gear, including my Browning 300 WSM, and only took my orange vest and my 40 caliber Glock 22. As I made it to the creek bottom where I was going to look for sign, I stopped for a second to look around. As I was looking at the creek to my left side, I heard something coming fast straight at me. I turned my head, and I saw a doe about 30 yards from me with the biggest buck I have ever seen hot on her tail grunting. As I pulled out my Glock, he saw me and turned and headed toward the creek. Once he cleared a few small trees, I had a clear shot. I shot him behind the shoulder three times, and he stumbled and fell. He tried to get back up, and I had to finish him off.

“Once I made sure he was down for good, I called my friends to tell them what just happened to me. I was so shook up that I could barely get the words out. Once they got to me, we drug him out to the truck and took him to the warden station to check him in.

“I have been hunting since I was a little kid with my parents, and this was the most amazing thing that has happened to me while hunting. I am still in shock and can’t believe that I harvested a 150-inch buck on public land with a Glock pistol. He is by far my biggest buck to date.”

Seth’s buck placed 8th in a very strong Week 8, but it was the highest-scoring public-land buck of the season. That earned Seth a spot in the Shoot-Out with the Public-Land Wildcard.

Editor’s Note: Next month we’ll take a look at the rest of the Truck-Buck hunt stories. Make sure to get your GON membership so you can be a part of next year’s Truck-Buck contest.

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