Wide-Ranging Hancock County 27-Point Buck Grosses Over 200

“Wilson” was a roamer and known to hunters on numerous tracts. The buck covered some miles, but mostly at night.

Mike Bolton | January 5, 2023

Mike Smith with his 27-point buck from Hancock County that has been rough-scored at 203 total inches. Mike downed the late-season buck on Dec. 29, 2022.

Georgia hunting buddies Matt Black and Scott Smith travel across the country each year chasing big white-tailed bucks. Their other hunting buddy, Mike Smith, is always invited, but he refuses to tag along.

“Matt and Scott go to different states hunting big bucks,” Mike Smith said. “They always invite me. I tell them I can’t go because I haven’t earned the right. I tell them I’m going to have to kill a big buck in Georgia first.”

Well, Matt and Scott, your buddy Mike is now worthy.

Last Thursday, Mike took a non-typical Hancock County buck that has social media buzzing. The buck, believed to be 6 ½ or 7 ½ years old, has 27 scoreable points, and it was rough scored by a local taxidermist. It grossed 203 inches. Mike estimates it weighed 200 pounds.

Mike, who just turned 50, says he doesn’t deserve the credit for taking the buck that the trio has hunted for the past three seasons. He said that credit should go to his two friends, who are the type hunting buddies every hunter needs. 

It is indeed a special friendship. The three have been inseparable since meeting more than 45 years ago when all were on the same T-ball team. 

“Up to two years ago, we had only seen the buck on photos at night,” Mike said. “That’s when he stepped out on me during the daylight. I shot and missed.”

Instead of ridiculing the crestfallen hunter over missing a buck of a lifetime, his two comrades set their sights on making sure he would get another chance. As hard as they tried, they couldn’t pattern the buck on the 1,000-acre piece of property.

“We’d get occasional photos of the buck at night,” Mike said. “We named him Wilson after the character on the Tool Time TV show. Wilson was the next-door neighbor who was always behind the fence, but you could only see his eyes, never his face.

“Every photo of this buck at night, you could always see his eyes, but there was always something in front of him so you couldn’t see his face.”

Little known to Mike’s group, other hunters in a 3-mile radius of their property were also getting the same buck in nighttime photos. Mike and his group couldn’t pattern the buck because he was a roamer.

Finally, Matt decided he was going to do everything in his power to see that his buddy got the buck.

“He told me that we were going to go out every afternoon and hunt the buck until we got him,” Mike said. “He always put me in the stand that he thought gave me the best chance of seeing the buck.

“Last Thursday, he put me in a box stand. I was about 15 feet up. It was really quiet that day. At about 5:30, I heard something coming through the woods and I could tell by the noise that it was big. I got my gun up and got ready. It was a good thing that I did.”

Mike learned why the big buck was a survivor.

“He walked out of the woods 50 yards away, and he immediately looked right at me,” he said. “He never took his eyes off of me. He was smart, but I was ready. He (was about) to run, and I shot. The whole thing didn’t last 5 seconds.”

Mike knew he needed to wait before leaving the stand, but he didn’t wait long. 

“I couldn’t stand it,” he said. “I sat a bit and couldn’t wait any longer. I called Matt and he came and we started tracking. I would stand on the last blood, and he went ahead looking. He found him about 100 yards away. My shot with my Ruger 30.06 had gone through the shoulder and into his neck.”

Mike posted photos of him posing with the big buck on social media. He quickly learned why his group was unable to pattern the buck.

“People started sending me night photos they had of the buck on their own property,” he said. “Some of them had been taken 3 miles away from where we hunt. They had named him, too, with names like Megatron and Hit List.”

As it turned out, last Thursday, Dec. 29 was only the second time that any of Mike’s trio had seen the buck in daylight hours. Mike says he’s anxious for the 60-day drying period to expire so he can get the buck officially scored. He’s hoping that the buck will be the largest ever from Hancock County.

“I think the biggest non-typical from Hancock County is like 180 and some change,” he said. “I hope mine—when it dries out—will be bigger than that. That would be cool.”

Mike says he plans to take the jawbone to his local DNR office to get a biologist to determine its age. He says people are guessing 6 1/2 or 7 1/2 years old.


Hancock County Best Bucks Of All-Time

1173 Keith Thompson2003HancockGunView 
2170 3/8 Gary McMahan2003HancockGunView 
3168 7/8 Butch Aides1985HancockGun
4166 4/8 Alan Ferguson1969HancockGun
5164 3/8 Ronald Ledford1971HancockGun
6159 7/8 Rick Gasaway1979HancockGun
7158 4/8 Roy Grimsley1987HancockGun
8181 (NT)Mike Smith2022HancockGunView 
9157 1/8 Wayne Heath1970HancockGun
10180 1/8 (NT)Gary Lewis Sr.2001HancockFound

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  1. garyh on January 18, 2023 at 12:58 pm

    Before everyone runs the prices of leases up in Hancock County think that this is the new normal for antler quality, I assure you, that this buck, is an extreme anomaly….lol

    Congrats to the hunter!

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