I saw on Twitter that Georgia hunter Jay Chambless shot an exceptional buck for the southwest part of the state last November, so I asked him to give us the story. He sent this fantastic and well-written report.
Mike: Thanks so much for letting me share this adventure!
It all started in September 2014. A buck showed up on one of my trail cameras that really caught my attention, a buck that I had never seen before. The deer sported a tall 10-point rack, with incredible brows and long beams. Looking at his body, it was very evident the deer was mature. I judged his age to be 5.5 years old at that time, and figured his rack to be around 160″.
The deer continued to show up on my trail camera photos on a pretty regular basis, but all pictures were at night. I knew that no daytime pictures meant this deer was old and smart, and would be tough to kill.
I hunted the entire 2014 season without ever seeing this big guy on the hoof, and never did get a daytime photo of him. During the week of Thanksgiving I killed a 148 4/8″ buck. After shooting that deer I never got another picture of the “Ghost 10”. I feared that I had run him off the property, or worse, someone on an adjoining property had killed the buck.
This particular property is 200 acres of cutover that has grown up in small oak trees. The property is so thick you can hardly walk through it. About 6 years ago I took a bulldozer and pushed in senderos so that it would be huntable. Over that time I have provided year around minerals and food. I have managed the property very strictly over the years, passing smaller bucks and watching the deer grow. In my area of Southwest Georgia, a 140″ buck is considered a good one, and a deer over 150″ is a really good one.
Fast forward to the 2015 season. Early in the year I wasn’t getting any pictures of the “Ghost 10”, and I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the deer was gone. But, as luck would have it, he started showing up on my trail camera the second week of October! He became a regular visitor to my mineral site and feeding locations, but just like the previous year, all pictures were at night.
The rut in this area is always the week of Thanksgiving, and I always take that week off to hunt. I logged many hours in the stand that week, but still no sightings of the big guy. But, interestingly enough, the buck began showing up earlier and earlier in the evening as evidenced by the photos. I checked my camera after my morning hunt on November 28, and the 2 previous days the “Ghost 10” had shown up within 20 minutes of last light.
Even though the high that day was 82 degrees, something told me to go hunt that afternoon. I got in the stand at 4:00, and did not see a deer. With light fading I was about to gather my gear and climb down when I took one more glance down the sendero. There was a deer standing down there, but it was dark enough I couldn’t tell what it was. As soon as I looked through my binoculars I knew that the “Ghost 10” had finally shown himself. I eased my gun up and tried to calm myself the best I could. Once I settled the crosshairs for a high shoulder shot I squeezed the trigger. The .308 bullet did its job, dropping the old buck in his tracks. The 2-year-quest to kill my biggest buck ever had come full circle. I had finally harvested the “Ghost 10″!
It turns out I was pretty close with my age and scoring estimates. The buck’ s gross score was 156 7/8” and he was aged at 6.5 years, but with the uneven wear on the teeth he could possibly be 7.5 years old. It was a painstaking process to zero in on and hunt this one buck having never seen him on the hoof, nor even getting any daytime pictures of him. But once I finally stood over this awesome animal it made all those hours in the stand worthwhile. The “Ghost 10” is a trophy in every sense of the word, and it was truly a blessing to not only be able to harvest him, but to hunt him.—Thanks, Jay Chambless
Postscript: On February 22, 2016 Jay sent out this Tweet: “Just found this. My trail cam took a picture of me standing over my 156” buck. Pretty cool.” Jay was on the phone to his wife telling her the 2-year-quest had come to an end.
One of the best cam pictures I’ve seen in a while. Way to go Jay, thanks for sharing.