March 4, 2021

Local hunter takes down giant Heard County buck

(Franklin, GA) — Justin Peterson harvested one of the largest bucks ever taken in Heard County during the final hours of the 2019-2020 Georgia hunting season.

Peterson, a 29-year-old Lagrange native that has lived in Heard for about four years, shot the giant 14-point brute on his hunting lease in the southern part of the county just before dark on Sunday evening, January 12.

The possible record-breaking kill was featured in an article by Georgia Outdoor News last week and Peterson told the magazine he first spotted the deer on some trail-cam photos just before Christmas.

“I was going through some trail-cam pictures on Christmas Eve, and that was the first time I had seen him,” Justin told GON reporter Donny Karr.

Justin then made some strategic moves on his hunting property, which is not far from his Heard County home where he’s been hunting the past four years.

He relocated his stand in order to better position himself for a shot at the monster. The buck continued to surface in trail-cam photos just minutes before dark over the course of the past few weeks.

Justin thought the rain might spoil his hunting efforts on the final day of the 2019-2020 Georgia deer season, but he was determined to give it one final effort.

“I looked at the forecast and told my wife that I probably wouldn’t be able to sit in the stand, but I decided to take a walk through the area I had been hunting him at about noon before the rains moved in,” Peterson states. “As I was walking near my stand, I jumped him. I managed to get my scope on him, but I just couldn’t get a clear shot.”

Justin Peterson with the giant buck he harvested in southern Heard County (Photo: Danny Pike)

He hastily returned home to gather his gear for a sit and made his way back to his tree stand shortly after 3:00 PM, hoping he hadn’t spooked the buck too far away.

Justin settled into his stand just a few hours before dark, looking to finally get a shot at the buck. The huge deer made an appearance as the final minutes of daylight were fading.

“I looked down at my phone to see what time it was, and when I looked back up, I saw a deer standing about 85 yards in front of me, but its front quarters were blocked by a pine tree. I realized that it was larger than the does I had been seeing, and then he stepped out from behind the tree and I saw his antlers.”

Justin wasted no time in shouldering his rifle and placing a perfect shot on the buck, dropping him where he stood.

“It was just an adrenaline rush, and I started calling people that I had been telling about this buck for the past few weeks,” said Justin. “It’s incredible. I’m really thankful to God that I was able to get him.”

Justin and some friends put a measuring tape to the rack and roughly came up with around 190 total inches of antler.

Split brow tines will be deductions when an official score is done in 60 days, but the main-frame 6×6 12-point should still net in the high 160s… or better!

The minimum for the all-time Boone & Crockett record book is 170.

The current Heard County record, according to GON’s official rankings, is the 1977 Jim Richards’ buck that netted 176 4/8.

Even if it’s not an all-time county record — and it might just be — Justin’s buck should easily crack GON’s list of Heard County’s Top-5 bucks ever recorded from Heard County.

Keith McCullough is also listed in the Boone & Crockett record book for a Heard County buck that netted 172 7/8 in 1982.

Click here to see additional photos and more details on the big buck courtesy of Donny Karr and Georgia Outdoor News



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