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Switching It Up On a Geneva County Booner
Small-tract bruiser measures green at 180 4/8 gross inches.
By Nick Carter
Posted Tuesday February 22 2011, 10:05 AM
Chris Watson, of Hartford, killed this 180-inch Geneva County monster Jan. 14. He had been hunting the buck for three years and said he was happy he had never gotten a shot on it before, because it gave the buck time to grow.
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Chris Watson, of Hartford, had been hunting this 5 1/2-year-old Geneva County buck for three years on a 40-acre tract of family land. Up until the afternoon of Jan. 14, the main-frame 10-point had always given him the slip.

The tract is just a beaver swamp and a cow pasture across the road from a small, grass-strip airport just outside of Slocomb. Chris typically hunts on other tracts, where he’s killed good deer along the Choctawhatchee River, but something made him walk the property four years ago.

Down in the beaver swamp, where it’s almost too thick to walk, Chris found some good sheds. Then he put out a trail camera, and since then he’s captured images of this buck and another older one. He started hunting from a tripod stand near a pasture. The area is between the beaver swamp and other properties, sort of a bottleneck between some houses.

“I had been sitting in the same stand for three season in a row in the same spot,” Chris said. “Finally, two days before, I went and got a lock-on and put it on a different tree. He wasn’t expecting that.”

Chris doesn’t like to move stands or encroach on a buck’s territory during the season. But the puzzle of this buck got him thinking. The deer would always emerge from the swamp and show up on his camera before daylight or in the afternoon about 20 minutes after Chris left the property.

“If I was ever there early, he wasn’t,” Chris said. “He either heard my truck coming in, or he knew that stand, and he was lying so close that he could see me or just knew I was there.”

Chris hung his lock-on from a hickory on the other side of the pasture, less than 150 yards from his tripod. When he entered the property the afternoon of Jan. 14, he parked his truck in a different spot than usual.

The ruse worked. Chris saw a buck hop a fence in the distance. He thought it was the older buck, which was on the decline and had no rack to speak of.

“He was watching right exactly where I would have been sitting. He just had his eyes fixed on it, like he knew I had been sitting there for years. The whole time he was moving in, he was looking to where my tripod was,” said Chris.

It took 10 to 15 minutes for the buck to slowly work its way in. It was by itself, as it always was, and Chris still hadn’t gotten a look at its rack.

“He came off my right shoulder, and he kept sneaking behind some short cedar trees,” he said. “Then, when he finally came out to where I could see him, he was right underneath me. I was looking down through these limbs, and the limbs were so thick there was just one little ol’ spot for a shot that I was kind of hoping for, and he just happened to cut right through it and stood there.

“When I saw his rack, I like to fell out. The only thing I was thinking was how am I going to make this shot because he was right underneath me.”

The buck was at just 12 yards when Chris took his shot. It only ran about 50 yards before piling up.

The buck weighed 208 pounds. Chris took the rack to Southern Outdoor Sports in Dothan, where an official Boone & Crockett scorer pulled a tape on it. The rack green-scored 180 4/8 inches gross and it netted 166 2/8. Chris will have it officially scored for the record books once the 60-day drying period passes. Some highlights are main beams measuring almost 28 inches each, G2s of about 13 inches each and an inside spread of 21 5/8 inches.
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