On this long July 4 weekend, be sure to keep the men and women in the military in your thoughts and prayers. Although we may occasionally take the little things in life for granted, soldiers like Michael Duren rarely do. And so it was last fall. With only a few days leave to take part in Wisconsin's firearms season, Mike had a simple plan- take any buck just to get some venison for the freezer. What he got instead was his best buck ever. Mike hammered this gorgeous tip-toucher 10-point at 100 yards. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Tim Friedman started out his Indiana firearms season with a bang. Tim’s opening day stud buck green-scored 226 2/8 as a non-typical with an inside spread of 34 6/8. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Here’s another dandy opening day Wisconsin buck. Jake Ehlert caught this monster chasing does and showed the patience of a saint while waiting for him to present the perfect shooting opportunity. At the shot, the buck turned and ran right at Jake- and dropped less than 15 yards from his stand. The tally was 17 points with a gross score of 192 6/8. Oh, did we mention that it was taken on public land? Outdoor Life Online Editor
There were high-fives all around after Bill Kittle arrowed this wide-racked eight-pointer in southeastern Ohio last November. With the rut just kicking in, Kittle spied the buck tending two does. He somehow kept himself together enough to send an arrow through the monster’s vitals at 10 yards. Final net score was 161 7/8 with a dressed weight of 205 pounds. Inside spread measured 28 3/8. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Kris Havelka was sitting in a stand with his dad, Terry, on opening day of Missouri Youth Season when this huge buck sauntered by on the heels of a smaller five-pointer. It featured 14 scorable points with seven stickers and field dressed at 190. Unofficial score was 203 non-typical. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Oklahoman Jerren Almon lives to hunt and after persuading his wife into letting him lease 1,000 acres of prime deer land, it was game on! One Saturday morning before work, Almon headed out to his stand where he quickly spotted three does and a gnarly horned buck. Exactly how gnarly? How’s a 206 7/8-inch, 28-pointer grab you? Way to go Jerren. Outdoor Life Online Editor
South Carolina may never achieve the lofty B&C;, P&Y; numbers of some of the more renowned Midwest states, but it does cough up trophy bucks. Take Joey Beach’s 12-pointer for example. Utilizing a grunt tube and a buck bomb, Beach drew this dandy non-typical out of a backwater swamp and into gun range. The buck grossed 163 3/8. Outdoor Life Online Editor
When your nine-year-old shoots a five-point with a crossbow and your seven-year-old takes another buck with a .243, the mark is already set pretty high. Unless you’re James Swingle. Proving once and for all that deer hunting is a family affair, Swingle joined in the fun with this perfect 162-inch 10-pointer. All the bucks were taken on the Missouri family farm. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Illinois deer hunter Matt Essig sure looks worked up about his huge buck, but you’d never know it from his note. “I shot this nice nine-point on the third day of Illinois firearms season,” he said. “He had a gross score of 165 1/8.” Outdoor Life Online Editor
Finally our last buck from that great bastion of giant whitetail deer hunting- Delaware! Just kidding, but how about this for a great buck? Bob Russell attached his quality buck tag (minimum 15-inch spread measurement) to this gorgeous 10-point to the delight of his two grandsons Garrett and Ethan. The buck scored 168. Outdoor Life Online Editor

We don’t ever tire of gawking at reader photos of giant bucks. Frankly, though, our collective brains exploded while wading through the plethora of entries for our annual Deer of the Year magazine feature. There were so many giant whitetails and so few magazine pages to print them on. So we bring you just a few of the runner’s up in our annual hunt for America’s best whitetails (to be revealed in the September issue). Just imagine what the winner looks like!