GON has now been around for almost 30 years, and a unique project started when the magazine first began was collecting, measuring and compiling a massive database of certified scores for Georgia bucks. Using this database, we developed a formula that provides an annual look at which Georgia counties are best at producing big bucks.
For the fifth year in a row, Worth County is the No. 1 county in Georgia for producing high-scoring bucks. It’s really not even close, although second-place Lee County is closing the gap.
Worth County’s big-buck production score of 188 is 28 points higher than the second-best Lee County. For perspective on just how good Worth County has been at throwing out high-scoring bucks the past 10 years, it takes a total score of 102 just to be a Top-10 county. Just the difference between No. 10 and Worth County is 86 points, which is more than the total score for 143 of Georgia’s 159 counties.
In addition to tallying a score for every Georgia county, GON also crunches the numbers to compare this year’s scores with the previous season (see the charts below). It is interesting to see which counties are moving up, and also to see which counties are dropping as bucks killed more than 10 years ago fall out of the formula.
Our formula uses official net scores from bucks taken in the past 10 years, and we also factor in the size of each county. Each county receives a score for its actual production of high-scoring bucks. Scores may drop from year to year because we only look at a 10-year window.
Worth County scores so well simply because in the past 10 years so many high-scoring bucks continue to be killed there. Take a look at GON’s County-by-County rankings (Worth County’s Top-10 list appears on page 94). It takes a Boone & Crockett buck to crack the Top-9 in Worth County.
Worth County has quality dirt—fertile soil along the Flint River corridor, and there is lots of agricultural farmland, with high-protein peanuts commonly in the rotation. The biggest factor for Worth’s dominance is the many large, well-managed plantations in the county. High-density hunting clubs are rare in Worth County. Old age is most important for a buck to grow a high-scoring rack, and combine that with bucks getting great nutrition and high-end genetic potential, and Worth County is prime for big bucks. That same formula is why Lee County is No. 2 and Dougherty County and Macon County rank four and five.
Dougherty County took a big jump, thanks to a Booner killed last season along with several other high-scoring bucks.
The remarkable chapter in Georgia’s big-buck story continues to be Fulton County, home to Atlanta but also the city’s northern suburbs where ribbons of mostly unhunted suburban habitat grow giant bucks that can only be bowhunted. It’s amazing that Fulton, which had no deer just two decades ago, is the No. 3 Georgia county for producing big bucks.
We realize individual bucks are not measured each season, maybe because the hunter doesn’t want publicity, but we are confident the buck-production formula works very well, and that it’s a great representation for big-buck production across the state. Adjacent counties and regions of the state have similar scores, and side-by-side counties typically trend together from year to year.
If you kill a good buck this season, contact GON as soon as possible. Call (800) 438-4663, or e-mail [email protected]. We’ll want to add your buck to this awesome database, and your buck might just be featured in the magazine.