Wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo “Gollywhopper,” a Southern term for something really big, deer hunter Wayne Edgeworth talks with passion about the day in mid-January when God and a massive buck changed his life.
Today, the experience is still impacting his life — and likely the lives of countless others.
“God made that deer so big that people would want to see him,” Edgeworth said. “Now I’ve been given a platform to stand up for Him, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
For those on the outside looking in, the story may seem to have begun when he first saw the buck in 2015. But for Edgeworth, it began long before, he explained, when God first orchestrated the plan to give him an unusual testimony to share with others.
Edgeworth, a member of Forest Hill Baptist Church, Linden, purchased his farm in Marengo County in 2002, planting crops to attract the deer population. An avid hunter, he hoped to draw large whitetail bucks to the area.
Drawn to him
Years later, in 2015, a young buck showed up on his game camera in the dead of night.
“He was about 3½ years old,” Edgeworth said. “But I never saw him in the daylight — just at night.”
Through the years that followed, he continued to look for the young buck, drawn to him for reasons that he could not yet explain. The next year, the same deer showed up again, still in the cover of darkness.
“I listened for shots, thinking someone would shoot him,” he said. “But no one did, and by the next year, he had gotten huge.”
Still, no one had seen the massive buck in the daylight hours.
Edgeworth waited and watched to see if his deer would resurface again the following year.
“Before the season started, I put cameras out, and there he was,” he recalled. “I pulled every tool out to try to draw him out in the daytime, but I couldn’t.”
In November 2019, Edgeworth was sitting in a shooting house, thinking about the mysterious buck — and praying.
“This was something I’ve wanted to do all of my life, to kill a deer like that,” he said. “It was number one on my bucket list. I said, ‘Lord, I’m turning it over to you, and if it’s your will, I want to kill this deer.’”
Edgeworth admits that it seemed a bit unusual to pray for such things, but since then he has seen an unveiling of God’s plan to use the deer for His own glory.
“God had a plan before I killed him,” he said. “I had the most desire as a deer hunter, but I needed God’s help.”
Edgeworth said that he wanted to take his faith and passion to another level, and God had a plan to make it happen.
“God kept that deer in the dark to let him get to 7½ years old,” he said.
On Jan. 17, 2020 — after watching his buck grow for over four years — Edgeworth got his chance. The massive 8-point appeared in a green field about 10 minutes after daylight.
Edgeworth fired a shot and harvested the record-setting buck.
The buck has repeatedly scored 175⅛ on the Boone and Crockett Club‘s scoring system, which takes into account the spread and diameter of the antlers, along with other measurements points.
Opportunities to share
In the weeks that followed, attention for the deer grew exponentially. From social media posts to radio shows to invitations to show off his buck and tell his story, Edgeworth’s phone rang off the hook with opportunities to attend events across the region. His gollywhopper has been hailed by deer hunters and sportsmen far and wide and continues to gain attention as a record-setter.
The attention has meant opportunities to speak to audiences that would never have been possible otherwise, and, Edgeworth said, he uses those opportunities to talk about his faith, his salvation, and God’s glory. Although he had always had a faith in Christ, he had never been outspoken about his salvation to others — until the gollywhopper gave him the platform to do so.
“Now I never hesitate,” he said. “I’ll go wherever and whenever I get the chance. God gave me this deer to open the door for me to do that.
“I’ve had people tell me I was lucky, but it wasn’t luck,” he said. “He made him that big so people would want to see him, and that means I get the chance to tell them about God. People say I am a fanatic, but I’m not apologizing for that. I am a fanatic for Him.”
The record-setting deer, he said, opens the door to talk to people who might not listen otherwise, and it has taken him places where he might not have been able to go, to not only tell the story of the day when he harvested the buck but the story of the day when God gave him eternal life. Using a brochure created by a local minister, he regularly takes every opportunity to present his testimony and talk about the unusual prayer that God answered in order to further His kingdom.
“God has given me the gift of salvation, and that’s eternal,” he said. “But He wanted me to share His word. He gave me the way to do it, and that’s what I intend to do, for as long as I can. He gave me the desire of my heart, and I want to leave here knowing I did everything I could for Him.”
Edgeworth is available to speak at events and can be reached at 205-312-1067.