Good Sign + Good Land + Smart Hunting = Great Buck
Three elements that go a long way toward helping you put a tag on a buck are rut sign, a...
Three elements that go a long way toward helping you put a tag on a buck are rut sign, a pinch point, and lightly hunted land. Dakota Owens and his father, Chris, found and utilized all three and did indeed fill a tag–with the tremendous Georgia ten-pointer shown here.
Finding great hunting property can be a hard task in itself. There is steep competition for good land that isn’t locked up or too pricey. But hunts on some private lands are open to anyone or to the fortunate ones who are selected. Knowing about such hunts can be the key to bagging a big one.
Dalton Utilities in northwest Georgia allows some hunters on their 9,000 acres of fertile, heavily irrigated, and lightly hunted land. The Owens pair was drawn for the November adult/child deer hunt.
“We drove to our assigned hunt area and scouted it out,” said Chris. “We had a nice hardwood hollow leading to a big swamp with a pine thicket beside it. There were several trails leading into the hollow, and a large trail going to the thicket, so we thought it must be a bedding area. Everywhere we looked, we saw horned trees. Some measured 8 to 10 inches in diameter. The spot we picked to hunt was a pinch point in the hollow. We set up our stand and left the area to get ready for the next day’s hunt.”
When the father and son arrived at their spot before dawn, they spotted deer eyes in the woods and decided to wait until daylight to go in to avoid bumping their buck.
“When daylight broke, we eased to the stand, never seeing a deer. We got up in the stand and had deer start blowing at us about 100 yards off to our left. I had a grunt call with me, so I blew it a few times, and they stopped blowing at us. We could hear them walking but couldn’t see them. They were on the other side of the hollow in a small thicket. After a few minutes, we couldn’t hear the deer moving anymore. There was a grassy spot to our right, and as the sun rose higher, Dakota spotted a deer bedded down in it. I looked and saw it was a small doe.
“Then out of the blue, we heard a deer walking hard along the bottom of the hollow. When we finally saw it, we knew it was a shooter, based on Dalton Utilities QDM standards.” On this hunt, a buck had to have 16-inch spread or beam length to be harvested.
“I told Dakota ‘shooter buck!’ As the deer walked in front of us, I got my grunt call ready to try and use it to make him stop. We had a good opening just to our right as the deer passed into the opening. I blew my grunt call to stop him. The buck stopped in his tracks, its hair stood on end, and he looked around like he was ready for a fight! He was about 20 yards away and I kept whispering to Dakota, “Shoot him. Shoot!” He already had his gun on him and was looking through the scope. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was more like 5 seconds, he pulled the trigger. The deer fell down in the front, then tucked his tail and took off running. He ran about 30 yards and piled up. I looked over at Dakota, and he was all smiles. I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you shoot as soon as I stopped the buck?’ He said, ‘I didn’t think it was big enough. I knew he was a tall rack, but I didn’t know if he was wide enough. Then, I heard you saying shoot him, so I found a spot and pulled the trigger.'”
The buck was indeed “big enough.” The main-frame ten-pointer was wide and tall with long tines that curved inward. The buck had a live weight of 175 pounds with 22-inch main beams and a 19-inch spread. It is truly a buck of a lifetime, especially for a young hunter.