Grant Bailey of Forsyth, Georgia, has lots of land to hunt, including a 1,000-acre spread in South Georgia. But after seeing the big bucks taken in the Atlanta metropolitan region in recent years, the 22-year-old bowhunter decided to try his luck in the suburbs. His plan paid off in a big way when he shot a 170-class 10-point velvet buck In Gwinnett County on Sept. 10 that has a good chance of becoming Georgia’s new No. 1 typical bow buck.
First Look at the Suburban Booner
Bailey, who works in Atlanta, began knocking on doors in early summer seeking permission to hunt. At one point he and a friend had about 40 trail cameras running, but mostly they were seeing only small bucks. That changed in midsummer, when one camera captured a partial photograph of a bigger buck. “We got a glimpse of one side, where you could just see a lot of horns,” Bailey told Field & Stream. “You could tell he had a lot of tine length, but we didn’t know how big he was. I was thinking maybe 140—better than anything I had on camera, but nothing huge.”
The deer failed to show again over the next couple of weeks, so Bailey started looking for a way to home in on the buck’s core area in hopes of getting a better look at the rack. He secured permission on a two-acre tract in a different subdivision; this second spot first camera site backed up to an industrial lot with a retention pond ringed by some promising bedding cover. The day after he hung the second camera, the buck showed around noon and hung around for several hours feeding. One look at the typical 10-point rack and Bailey knew he found his top hit-list buck.
“I realized he was a lot bigger than I originally thought,” he says. “He was in there every day, whether at night or in the middle of the day, right up to the day I killed him.”
A Nearly Blown Morning Hunt
A couple of weeks before the Sept. 9 archery opener, Bailey hung a stand that put the prevailing wind in his face and the owner’s house at his back. He had been careful not to crowd the buck, which moved no more than 400 or 500 yards a day. “I was in his core area, as core as I could get given where he was living,” Bailey says, but he almost ruined his chance minutes before the season started.
“I usually don’t hunt in the morning until pre-rut and rut, but I made the mistake of going in there on opening morning,” Bailey says. “I was just antsy because the deer was on camera so much in the daylight. It was a dumb decision, because I actually bumped a deer on the way in, and I was sure it was him. That morning I saw every other deer I had on camera except for the big buck. I thought I’d blown it.”
Bailey decided not to hunt that afternoon. He was back home in Forsyth, about 60 miles south of Atlanta, when his cell-cam started registering activity around 7:30 that evening. “He was back in there in broad daylight,” he says. “I hadn’t bumped him after all.”
Close Shot, Quick Kill
The next day, Sept. 10, Bailey waited until the afternoon to hunt. He dropped a friend at a nearby stand and then drove to a cul de sac near his stand and parked. He was in his tree by 4:00.
“It was hot. I was sweating by the time I got to my stand. I sat about three hours with no action. A severe thunderstorm popped up close by. There was lightning, and my wind completely switched. It was blowing 20 or 30 miles per hour. I was honestly about to get out of my stand when a buck that I knew the big one traveled with walked out at about 35 yards. Then another deer he travels with popped out too, and I thought, Dang, he’s got to be close.”
That’s when Bailey spotted a deer walking out from beneath a vine-covered tree 12 yards from his stand: It it was the big 10-pointer.
“I was looking almost straight down on him when I shot, and I hit on top of the left shoulder and the arrow came out below his right shoulder. He ended up running about 12 yards and rolled back toward me when he fell. He stayed on the property, so I didn’t have to go through the ordeal of getting permission to retrieve a dead deer. It was one of the quickest kills I’ve ever seen with a bow.
“He turned out to be 10 to 20 inches bigger than I thought he was going to be. When I walked up to him, I was just ecstatic, because I knew he was going to be something special. Based on the camera pictures, I had figured his G2s were 12 inches, his G3s were 11 inches, and his G4s were about 2 inches. But his G2 was over 14 and his G3 is almost 13 and his G4s were 6 inches on both sides.”
With 27 ½-inch main beams and a very symetrical rack that tallies only about 6 inches of deduction, the velvet buck’s green score grossed a little over 185 with a net score of 178. The state record archery typical, according to records maintained by Georgia Outdoor News, is a 177 1/8 deer shot by Manny Kaloyannides in 2018. Both Georgia and Pope & Young allow racks to be measured with the velvet on, and that’s what Bailey plans to do after the mandatory 60 day drying period is up.
“It’s going to be very close, probably within an inch up or down,” Bailey says. “If it’s not No. 1, it will definitely be No. 2.”
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