Hunter: Jeremy Adams
Points: 10 (5L, 5R)
(Sampson) I have been hunting the land around Apalachee River swamps, Walton/Barrow county lines, since my papa introduced me to hunting as a boy 30 plus years ago. It is hard hunting; mature/big bucks do not come easy. Three years ago, some neighbors started getting trail-cam pictures of a young buck with some really tall tines. They gave him the name Sampson. Around Christmas of 2017, Sampson made his appearance in my hunting area around the Apalachee River swamps. He only showed up sporadically, no pattern. My sons and I never saw him while hunting, but we occasionally got pictures in early season and late season. Usually first of bow season, 1-2 pictures, and then again he would show up between Thanksgiving and Christmas once or twice. These pictures had us all excited, just to get a glimpse of the big buck. Going into the 2020 season we ramped up our efforts putting in new stands and trying to be smart hunting the wind and trying to match wits with the “old swamp ghost.” About that same time, I was going through all my hunting gear and came across two old orange hunting vests. One was my papa’s and the other was mine that he had given to me that first season he took me hunting. I broke them out and decided I would use them once rifle season came in. I thought I could use every bit of luck I could get. 2020 proved to be just like other seasons before, very little sign of Sampson. He showed up late September; taller than ever but even more elusive. Rifle season rolled around but no sign of the big buck for last month and a half. We held out hope he was around. Things took a turn in our favor when Sampson showed up on camera on November 13, 2020. Even though it was at midnight, his routine had changed. This was the first time we had seen him on our land in November this early. The afternoon of Nov. 17 was cool and windy. My son James, age 12, had a case of hunting fever. We both arrived home at the same time, I work half days on Tuesday and Thursdays. James was ready to go to the woods, the wind was marginal but it was blowing so hard I decided to push our luck and head to the stands near the swamp, where we had gotten the picture on the 13th. I put James in best spot with most visibility, got him settled and headed to my post. It was 4 o’clock, the wind was so strong it gave me a chill. I put on my gloves and neck gaiter and thought maybe we had a chance. An hour in, a doe came out of nowhere like a rocket skirting the swamp. In a flash she was gone. I spotted a buck, gun up, safety off; it was a young 8-point buck hot on the doe’s trail. He paused for a moment, searching at swamp edge and pasture fence, then he was gone. I was hoping they would take the chase up to James and he would get a shot. Just as I was about to relax, I saw something barreling though the swamp so fast it was a blur. I spotted antlers. My blood was pumping…was it Sampson? The buck was running so fast I could not tell. He slowed just for a second. As he turned, I saw those tall tines…it was Sampson. He kept coming faster. I was about to yell…I had to do something! Then it happened, he slammed on brakes, stopping in the same spot as the young 8-pointer. The gun was shouldered, and instinct took over. He took one step, and I squeezed the trigger. Sampson bolted at the shot. Did I get him? It all happened so fast. Then he stumbled and faltered. I thought I saw him fall over! I tried to calm down. I called James…I don’t remember what I said, but it was something like “son it’s him, I think I got him, I’m gonna go look and if I did I’ll call you to come recover him with me”. My heart was racing as I tried to creep down the fence line to get a look into the swamp. Then I saw them, those tall tines sticking up; It was Sampson. I thought of my Papa, I was wearing his vest and all the hunts we shared, we dreamed of a buck like this. James in my old vest with me now sharing this hunt and learning about hunting from me like I had from my Papa. I called James and waited. We recovered Sampson together. You can imagine the celebration. We were in disbelief at the size and beauty of the “Old Swamp Ghost”. Thank you, Lord, for these whitetails. Thank You, Papa, for taking time to hunt with me and passing on this passion. Thank you, James and my other boys, for sharing hunts with me now! Sampson is a once in a lifetime buck here in Georgia. After 30 plus years of hunting, I truly appreciate him and this journey.