"I spent the whole first week hunting every day, and also took a lot of time off since then," said Columbia County hunter Chris Farris. "I would have said it's been fairly slow."
Farris, however, chose the right spot on Sept. 17, while hunting in a row of planted pines near a Burke County soybean field.
"I'd seen a bunch of deer, moving early," he said. As darkness approached, a good buck appeared in the beans.
"It was 10 minutes before dark, and he came out there looking for a doe," Farris said. "He was already swelled up, and his hocks were already black."
The buck presented a 25-yard shot and a blood trail that was easy to follow. "It ran, maybe, 150 yards," Farris said.
His reward was the finest buck of his hunting career: a 212-pounder, 10-pointed, with a 21-inch spread.
Many of the bigger bucks haven't been seen yet, although the fall rut will be in full swing by the time firearms season opens Oct. 18.
Doug King Jr., a bowhunter whose family owns Doug's Meat Shop and deer processing on Dean's Bridge Road, said check-ins have increased dramatically since cooler weather appeared last week.
"As far as what we're taking in, we're ahead of where we were last year," King said. "But we're also thinking, with the gas situation the way it is, there may not be as many people hunting right now."
Archery season, which Georgia's Wildlife Resources Division estimates will attract 94,000 participants this year, opened Sept. 13 and runs through Oct. 10. Last year, bowhunters killed about 34,000 deer.
RECORD GAR: Chad Leonard, of Nashville, Ga., has been certified as the new record-holder for catching the largest gar in Georgia, which he landed in Berrien County.
While fishing on the Alapaha River on Sept. 5, he landed a 30-pound, 4-ounce longnose gar, eclipsing the former state record of 28 pounds, 6 ounces, caught in the Flint River in 1995.
Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) are members of the gar family and are considered relics from a large group of primitive fish.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.