It seems that the biggest trophies often come to us when least expected. Such was the case Sept. 25, 2013, during archery season, when nationally known TV personality and comedian Jeff Foxworthy decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment afternoon hunt at his farm near Columbus, Ga.
By Duncan Dobie
For Deer & Deer Hunting
Jeff has owned and managed the farm for about 10 years. Having his little piece of whitetail heaven has been a dream come true. During his second year of owning and managing the farm, he shot a massive buck with a rifle that grossed 178 inches. A year or two later, his farm manager, Glenn Garner, a dedicated bowhunter, twisted Jeff ’s arm and enticed him to try bowhunting. Jeff ended up shooting an outstanding 138-inch buck, and his hunting life was forever changed.
“I shook so bad I couldn’t get out of the stand,” Jeff said. “I couldn’t even dial my cell phone. I felt like I was 15 again, and that’s the way I wanted to feel after a hunt.”
Jeff has been hooked on bowhunting for whitetails ever since. During the past few years, he and Glenn have gotten trail camera photos of some giant bucks at the farm. At the beginning of the 2013 season, they had accumulated numerous photos of a 5 1⁄2-year-old buck that had an unusually high and freakish rack.
“He was one of those special deer,” Jeff said. “We started getting trail-camera pictures of him when he was a 3-year-old. Glenn named him right off the bat — Will Smith, because in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will’s hair went straight up.”
Jeff never expected to have an encounter with this unusual buck during early bow season. The buck lived on the edge of the farm and seemed to disappear each year when the season opened. In fact, Jeff hadn’t even planned to hunt that memorable day in late September 2013. He had driven down to the farm from his home in North Atlanta to visit Glenn’s brother, Larry Garner Jr., in a nearby hospital.
The previous month had been an emotional roller coaster for Jeff, Glenn and the entire Garner family. Larry was fighting for his life in a battle against cancer. On the morning of Sept. 25, Jeff got up early and drove several hours down to the hospital. He spent most of the day with Larry. Then he drove to the farm to drop off some supplies.
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No one had been in the mood to hunt because of the situation with Larry. But after some talk about having to face rush-hour traffic in Atlanta on the way home, Jeff decided to sit in a stand for the evening hunt and try to shoot a doe. Jacob Womack, one of the regular gang members at the farm, offered to grab a camera and film him.
A short time later, Jeff almost got his doe. However, the doe was standing at an odd angle, and Jacob couldn’t get the camera on the deer. As soon as Jeff let down his bow string, Jacob whispered, “Will Smith, Will Smith!” The buck was standing about 20 yards away.
“It’s funny,” Jeff said. “I had seen tons of trail-camera pictures of him, but I’d never seen him with my naked eye. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, could that be a shooter?’ Or, ‘Could that possibly be Will Smith?’ I mean, as soon as I looked at him, I went, ‘Will Smith.’
The buck followed the same path as the doe. Jeff made a perfect quartering-away shot.
“It was probably the easiest shot I ever made at a deer with my bow,” Jeff said. “I went from being totally calm to — if you look at the video, I spin around about three times and almost fall out of the tree — I was like, ‘I just killed Will Smith! I just killed Will Smith!’
Sadly, Larry lost his courageous battle with cancer a few days later. Jeff told his wife, Pamela Gregg, he thought the buck was a gift from heaven because of all the heartache everyone had been going through about Larry’s illness.
“We all loved that guy so much,” Jeff said. “I told my wife it was divine, because with Larry being sick, that hunt was like a divine period for a couple of hours when I forgot about everything else. We’re a really tight group at the farm. When one guy shoots a deer, everybody gets just as excited as if they’d done it themselves.”
Jeff’s amazing 11-pointer tallied a gross score of 175 inches.
Editor’s note: To see Jeff ’s video hunt, go to: www.foxworthyoutdoors.com/videos/hunting-a-georgia-giant. Inside & Out Season 3.
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