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Wheeler County River Bottom Giant

A missed shot was the beginning of an obsession for David Frost, and the start of a three-year quest that ended in the pages of the B&C record book.

Daryl Gay | November 9, 1989

Early morning mist rose serenely from the swampy bottomland along the Oconee River as David Frost’s boots squished and padded softly through the dark, rich Wheeler County mud. He was going through the motions of his usual still-hunting methods, unaware that within seconds, a three-year crusade for the animal of a lifetime would begin… or that his life would be changed forever, and his name eventually included in the hallowed pages of the Boone & Crockett record book.

It all started with an ear.

The mosquito-discouraging flip caught his eye as David was almost on top of some kind of deer or other. As he suddenly made like a tree, his heart pumping by the gallon, the doe that belonged to that ear shrugged him off and resumed her browsing. Within seconds, the hunter was able to make out the forms of a couple more deer ghosting through the woods beyond the first doe.

One member of the second party of deer was a female for sure, but David couldn’t tell enough about the third until he had eased up the rifle and counted its neck hairs through the big scope. Not doe day, not shot; all in all he thought it was pretty disgusting to see all those deer and not even get a bruised shoulder.

Pulling the rifle down, David figured he’d watch a while, at least until something caught sight or scent of him and headed for Greece at a gallop. That’s when the splashing started.

Really fired up now, David scoured the soggy river bottom for what was making all that racket. Spotting her… her… he heaved another sigh of disgust. But the doe was not alone. Trailing the big doe was the largest whitetail buck David will probably ever see. The four-legged dude very obviously had loving and nothing else on his mind as he chased the female. The doe, however, was having nothing to do with him.

For those who are uninformed when it comes to the basics of making little whitetails, what it boils down to is that he was chasing her until she caught him. The baby deer making process was about to get interrupted, however.

Neither of the lovely does noticed David, but the range and terrain were such that he was able to touch off a single hurried shot at a trotting buck. He missed.

“I know I didn’t hit him, and he just left the area for the rest of that season,” said David. “He disappeared completely. I just about lived there hoping to get another chance, but he didn’t show up.”

You dedicated deer hunters know what it’s like to get up before first light, morning after morning, then perch upon your painful posterior until the shadows take over each night. But what if you had seen and taken a shot at such a buck? What if…

David managed to take a nice 8-pointer in the same neighborhood, but it was to be Thanksgiving Day of the next year before his dream of seeing the monster buck again was realized.

“That Thanksgiving, I had gone into the woods with my daddy, and the wind got up real bad about nine in the morning,” said David. “I got up to start stalking and had walked only about 10 yards when I heard something moving behind me.”

Guess who?

“I whirled around, heard the buck snort, and then caught a glimpse of him running flat out through the woods. I sighted on an opening, but he came through so fast that I didn’t have a good shot, and I certainly didn’t want to risk wounding and losing him. I could see his big old rack bouncing through the woods, and I was sick. I felt like throwing the gun down and quitting right then and there.”

Do you get the feeling that David is one dedicated deer hunter? I wonder how many of us would have passed up that piece of a shot. Throwing down the gun and quitting was not David’s way, and the sick feeling didn’t last long either. While he was agonizing over whether or not he should have risked a pop at the big ‘un, a silly little 5-pointer came trotting up, and he was promptly transformed into table fare.

“I’ll always believe that the big buck sent that little one right to me,” said David.

At any rate, it had to make things just a little better on that particular trip. But the wondering and waiting continued for yet another year.

It was Thanksgiving Day 1983, and David had discovered a series of rubs and scrapes that he said could only have been made by the monster buck. It was time for drastic measures, so the hunter who had never used a tree stand decided to bring a ladder stand into the area. It would be his first time in an elevated stand of any type. It would also be a very memorable one.

David clambered in well before daylight. An hour later, at 7:15, he heard splashing in the same creek that he had seen the buck cross during that first sighting three years earlier. Moments later, as the magnificent animal materialized from the mist, David knew that he was about to go home one extremely happy hunter… or take strike three. Fate, be not tempted thrice.

Fortunately, the buck was trotting toward him at an angle, on its way to presenting a perfect crossing shot. But for a moment, the hunter thought Murphy’s Law was going to come into play The deer angled steadily toward the very crossing spot David had taken on the way to the stand. Surely its super sniffer was about to pick up the feared and hated scent… and it surely did.

The animal pulled up short like a setter on point as it caught a whiff. As Mother Nature would have it, the buck was looking directly at the rifleman. That one moment of indecision loomed large as the Marlin 30-30 roared. Incredibly, the deer took off without even a flinch, and David’s old familiar sick feeling returned with a vengenance.

“I thought I had missed him by the way he acted, even though that Weaver’s crosshairs were right where I wanted them. I had sighted it in just that week. I tried to put a sight on him twice more as he was running, touched off two more quick shots… and missed both of them.”

The forlorn hunter watched in agony as the buck barreled through the trees. When it went to cross the creek again in a giant leap, David’s heart soared as the whitetail gave out. With a tremendous splash, the buck ceased into the water. The bullet had done its duty. It was recovered from the deer’s heart during the dressing-out process.

David Frost with his Wheeler County buck that had a net non-typical score of 198 4/8 inches.

The huge whitetail dressed out at more than 200 pounds. The spectacular non-typical rack included 20 scoreable points. After the drying period, when the rack was officially scored, it tallied up 198 4/8 non-typical B&C inches, 3 1/2 inches over the minimum for inclusion in the most prestigious record book.

The most interesting point was a drop tine on the right side that was covered in hardened velvet. It was mounted that way and remains on Frost’s wall today.

One wonders what’s next for a man who has killed a record-book buck, especially after a three-year hunt that ended in glory.

“I don’t know if there’s one in that swamp that’s bigger, but I’ve seen one that comes pretty close,” said David.

It makes you wonder how many years this one’s going to take.

 

Wheeler County Best Bucks Of All-Time

Rank Score Name Year County Method Photo
1 198 4/8 (NT) David Frost 1983 Wheeler Gun View 
2 166 2/8 Paul Dixon 2004 Wheeler Found
3 180 (NT) Sidney Marshall 1996 Wheeler Found
4 153 1/8 Neal Clark 1997 Wheeler Gun
5 152 6/8 Charles Mathis 1976 Wheeler Gun
6 151 7/8 Andy Sellers 1993 Wheeler Gun
7 149 4/8 Joe (Buddy) Brown Jr. 2014 Wheeler Gun View 
8 149 Hal Cox 1996 Wheeler Gun View 
9 146 3/8 Lonnie Tanner 1997 Wheeler Gun
10 145 3/8 Tanner Knight 1994 Wheeler Found

 

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