Rack Magazine

Getting a Goodun

Getting a Goodun

By Duncan Dobie

Georgia hunter values marksmanship and old-fashioned luck over all things fancy.

Lucy Nix says her husband and hunting partner, Steve, is the luckiest man she knows.

The Clayton, Georgia, couple has hunted deer across many Southern states for years. She’s taken her share, but he rarely fails to collect venison, and he brought home a lot more than meat from Kentucky in 2013.

It might have been luck that put him in the right place at the right time during the rut’s peak, but Steve also had the skill and presence of mind to make a perfect shot at an extraordinary whitetail when opportunity knocked.

When I first called Steve, he told me “You may not want to write my story. I ain’t no ordinary hunter. I don’t use scents. I don’t wear camo, and I smoke and chew on my stand. I don’t do all them fancy things you read about. I’m just an old mountain hunter, but I hunt hard and love every minute of it.”

Hunt hard he did on Nov. 10, 2013.

Steve and Lucy have driven to Kentucky to hunt with their good friend, James Stancil, for several years. The men have worked together for a long time. James lives in north Georgia as well, but he does some outfitting in Crittenden County.

“He invites us up every year, and Lucy and I always take our grandson,” Steve said. “My son, Lamar, hunts during bow season, and we always try to be there with our grandson during opening weekend of gun season.”

Timing for the 2013 hunt couldn’t have been better. The Kentucky rut was in full swing on opening Saturday, and Steve passed up several small bucks that were cruising for does.

“I’ve hunted out of the same tree for years,” Steve said. “There’s a big cedar tree right below it, and it hides me very well. I always use a climbing treestand that faces the tree.

“On Sunday morning, Nov. 10, I had just put away my cell phone after talking to Lucy about 9:10, when here they came. The woods seemed to explode with a whole passel of deer. First, a doe came through, going wide open right below me. A nice buck was right behind her, and two more bucks — a 5-pointer and a spike — were in line behind them.

“I could tell the first one was a goodun. I barely had time to get my rifle up and try to make a shot,” he continued.

“I don’t hunt for monsters,” Steve added. “I just look for good deer. If he’s a goodun, I’ll shoot him.”

In this case, the buck that came flashing by Steve’s stand with one thing on its mind was considerably better than “good.” It was monstrous, easily in a category by itself. Or, as Steve later put it, “a once-in-a-lifetime buck, if you’re lucky.”

Everything happened so quickly that Steve didn’t have time to consider options.

“The buck went through an opening about 40 yards away, and I managed to get off a shot,” he said. “Then it ran off and disappeared. It felt like a good shot, but you never know.”

Getting a GoodunAfter the boom, the two smaller bucks running behind Mr. Big disappeared as well. Steve watched curiously as the 5-pointer turned around and came sneaking back in his direction.

“He appeared to be boogered,” Steve said. “That gave me hope that my buck had gone down and that the 5-pointer had seen it fall. I waited in my stand about 15 minutes, and then I got down to take a look. It hadn’t run more than 50 yards, but with all the excitement and all the deer running through the woods, I hadn’t heard it fall.

“My grandson showed up about the time I found it. He’d heard me shoot. The buck was huge. I knew it was a goodun when I first saw it, but I didn’t have any idea it was that good.”

Steve and his grandson marveled over the unbelievable trophy and counted points several times, arriving at a different number with each tally. Seventeen are scorable.

Steve, now 71, has spent a lifetime hunting the mountains of northeast Georgia and has no plans to slow down.

“I’ve killed a lot of turkeys over the years,” he says. “I love to turkey hunt, and I’ll shoot a bear if one comes by me during the season. But hunting whitetails with my wife is what I really love the most. Over the years, we’ve included my son and grandson. We’ve made it a real family affair.”

Luck or no luck, Steve’s Kentucky monster takes his commonly used description of a goodun to a new level. The tall, wide and massive rack of this megabuck must have resembled the Hartford elk coming through the woods when Steve first laid eyes on it.

“I wish you could put your hands on this deer,” Lucy says. “It’s 30 inches wide at its widest outside point. You need to see it in person to fully appreciate it.”

Hunter: Steve Nix
BTR Score: 194 7/8
View BTR Scoresheet

This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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