There’s no doubt Georgia bowhunter Bryce Spillers will remember his first successful hunt. The 21-year-old took his record-smashing deer earlier this month. Amazingly, it also happened to be one of Georgia’s biggest whitetails. His buck is 18 points and scored 198 2/8 inches, nontypical.
The state’s current top Pope and Young nontypical is a 213 4/8-inch giant taken in 2007 by Jay Maxwell. However, the No. 2 buck, tagged by Kevin Carnes in 2015, scored 195-2/8. As a result, Spillers’ buck has a good chance of claiming the runner-up spot.
“I first encountered this buck in 2018, which was my first year of bowhunting, as a 17-year-old,” Spillers said.
According to Spillers, he set up a ground blind and watched an 8-point buck stand up. “I noticed he had kind of floppy ears, and one had a rip in it. So I put a camera out and started getting pics of him; I could always identify him by that rip in his ear,” he said.
However, over several years, Spillers didn’t have much time for hunting. However, he used trail cams to monitor his buck closely.
“He grew into a 10-point the next fall, and, based on the pics I was getting, I moved my stand to a clearcut that bordered that swamp. After the season, I put out protein pellets to see if it would help him and the other deer grow better. But that year and the next, I really didn’t have time to hunt, so I just stayed out of there, other than checking trail cams.”
During the 2021 season, the buck had grown into a 16-pointer. “In mid-August of that year, I got a pic of him at twilight, and he was just huge,” Spillers said.
Then, for this season, Spillers knew he had to go after him.
21-year-old bowhunter takes monster buck after years of prep
“He’d exploded into an 18-point monster,” he said. On opening day, Spillers decided to go for it. “I saw that at about 10 a.m.. he was in bow range, but I wasn’t comfortable with the shot so I passed; I wasn’t risking anything with a buck that big.”
Then, on October 8th, his luck changed. “I’d decided to get aggressive and moved my stand near his bedding area,” he said. “I heard crunching in the leaves and looked to see him coming right down that trail.” Then, he saw he had a chance to pull his bow back and take a shot.
“It was kind of amazing; he died almost exactly where I’d seen him first stand up out of that bed in 2018,” he said afterward.
He continued: “When I walked up to him, it was like all my dreams about him had come true. It was pretty cool, but kind of bittersweet at the same time. The chase was everything for me, and it was a little sad that it was suddenly over. But he’s an amazing buck and one I was so fortunate to hunt and harvest.”