Each fall, the editors and writers of Outdoor Life spend countless hours chasing down stories about hunters who have killed giant deer. We do this for a couple reasons. First, our readers love big buck photos and the stories that go with them. All deer have a story, but it seems the bigger the buck, the bigger the story. Second, it’s tradition. For more than 100 years we’ve been telling big-buck stories. It’s part of OL’s DNA. Lastly, it’s fun. Many of the folks we interview are workaday hunters who got one special opportunity to take a true once-in-a-lifetime buck—and they made the very most of it.
So with that, here’s a look back at some of the biggest whitetail bucks killed in 2022, and the stories behind them.
The Xen Mcallister Buck
The 29-year-old lineman killed this incredible buck in a small plot of timber between a corn field and a bean field in Fayette County, Illinois. Mcallister had history with the deer and captured trail camera photos of him in the year prior.
Mcallister saw him again on camera in mid-August and decided to chase him this season, since he seemed to be hanging around the area.
“I grunted at him twice, and he started working his way to me, then stopped. I snort-wheezed at him pretty loud, he was still 100 yards away, and he started coming in a little more and put his head down. I hit the antlers together and that’s when he started charging in,” Mcallister told Outdoor Life. “He came into about 15 yards, quartering away. I made the shot, I knew I hit him good, he was pumping blood immediately. I watched him run through the timber like a bull in a china shop, destroying everything through there. He hit the field, slowed down, started dragging, and tipped over. He ran maybe 80 yards from where I shot him.”
The deer tallied a Buckmasters score of an incredible 243 2/8. Read the full story here.
Josh Heuser Buck
Bowhunter Josh Heuser tagged “a buck of 10 lifetimes” on Sept. 27 while hunting in his home state of Missouri. That’s according to Clint Schwach, who captured some beautiful photographs of Heuser’s goliath whitetail.
Heuser, who is one of the hosts of “Respect the Game TV”, has not yet responded to interview requests, but according to North America Whitetail, certified Boone & Crockett measurer Cameron Coble came out to rough score the buck soon after it was harvested. Coble gave it a “green” gross score of 236 2/8 and a net score of 254 3/8. The rack had 36 scoreable points, and if the preliminary score holds up over the mandatory 60-day drying period, that would make buck, nicknamed “Louis,” the fourth biggest non-typical buck ever taken with archery gear in Missouri. Read more about the buck here.
Abraham Yoder Buck
A hunter in Ashland County, Ohio, tagged the trophy of a lifetime while hunting with his crossbow on private land on Oct. 8. After killing the buck, Abraham Yoder had it scored by Daryl Miller, a certified Buckmasters scorer who lives roughly an hour away from Yoder in Baltic. Miller gave the deer a final score of 239 and 7/8 inches. With a total of 29 scoreable points and some seriously heavy mass, he says it could be the biggest rack he’s ever come across. With that score, it would be the fourth biggest Ohio buck taken in the Buckmasters records.
After putting a tape to the rack, Miller got permission to take a few photos and enter it into the Buckmasters Trophy Records Book. The details behind the hunt are slim, and Miller explains that since Yoder is Amish, there’s no way to get ahold of him without visiting in person.
“Coming from an Amish background, he doesn’t like a lot of publicity,” Miller says. “But he was thrilled to have that buck and I was thrilled to be there to score it.”
Donnie Monroe Buck
Monroe had seen the buck during the previous season on a small parcel of private land, along with a mature 8-pointer and a younger 10-point. Last year, Monroe estimated that the buck was three years old, and he was getting bullied by the older (but smaller) 8-point. So, Monroe decided to shoot the bully buck, which turned out to be a 5-year-old that scored about 130 (a great buck by any measure, but not necessarily a trophy for this part of the country).
Fast forward to this summer, when Monroe got his giant buck on trail camera again. He couldn’t believe how much the deer had grown.
Monroe made a bold move on the buck, hunting him from the ground with a muzzleloader, and capturing the whole hunt on camera.
Eventually, Buckmasters contacted Monroe and encouraged him to get the rack scored formally, Monroe says. Two Buckmasters scorers came up with a 230 4/8 gross score, and declared that it was the No. 1 muzzleloader buck in the state by the Buckmasters records. Read the full story here.
John Cassimus Buck
John Cassimus, a 55-year-old Hoyt pro staffer and entrepreneur, killed the velvet buck of a lifetime this year in Alberta.
“He was just so big. He stood the height of an elk. His lower leg from the joint down, I would say is more than 27 or 28 inches, like just insanely long. It didn’t even look normal, you know?” Cassimus says. “We figured the deer was going to be around 160 to 165 [inches] when we looked at it on camera, but then we just didn’t realize the deer was 300 pounds on the dot and it was so big and so tall that when we walked up to him, we were just kind of in awe … especially from the mass standpoint. The deer had over 53 inches of mass.”
Cassimus is a devout mule deer conservationist and avid big-game hunter with a long season ahead of him. But this whitetail will forever stand out. The velvet buck ended up measuring 187 1/4 inches. Read the full story here.
Lee Ellis Buck
When Atlanta-based suburban bowhunter Lee Ellis watched a massive velvet buck slip into bow range, he knew his hunt was playing out better than he could have ever dreamed. He made the most of the opportunity, executing a perfect shot on the deer at 17 yards.
Ellis, a founding member of suburban bowhunting brand Seek One, notched his Tennessee whitetail tag on opening day with a 190 2/8-inch nontypical velvet buck he’d been watching since last season.
“It was something I was not expecting at all. It’s literally just a gift from God,” Ellis says. “It was probably one of the absolute highs of my hunting career, just the ultimate surprise and shock of the one day in five weeks that the deer wants to make a loop, and I happened to be in the woods in the stand when he did it.”
Ellis and his friends measured the rack with its 16 points and thinning velvet. Then they measured it again. What he originally thought would be a 170- to 180-inch score turned out to be just a hair above 190. Read the full story here.
The Peoples Buck
Anthony Peoples manages the Missouri family property to let whitetails grow old, creating a sanctuary of sorts in hopes of harvesting large 6-year-old bucks. Unfortunately, when his target buck stepped out, he made a marginal shot with his traditional bow.
The next morning, Peoples waited until about 10:30 to try tracking the buck down with his dad. He had no clue whether he was going to find the deer. Or if he did find it, if it’d still be alive.
“I called a buddy of mine who has a Raven crossbow. I was thinking in a situation where I come across this deer and I can’t get to him and he’s injured, I’m not too proud to shoot him with a crossbow. We need to get the job done at this point,” Peoples says.
Eventually, they found the buck still alive and Peoples shot him twice more with his trad bow.
Peoples guessed the buck was six years old and between 280 and 300 pounds on the hoof. He likely won’t have the buck scored, but he estimates he’s over 200 inches thanks to the incredible mass. More than anything, Peoples is blown away by the buck’s tenacity.
“When we caped him and looked, I wasn’t that disappointed with my shots. I put it in his ribcage twice,” Peoples says. “So I think it’s more a case of hats off to that old sucker for being so dang tough. He had very strong will.” Read the full story here.
The Stuckey Buck
This old buck with an antler growing out of its eye socket is one of the gnarliest deer of the year.
Davey Stuckey, a 44-year-old retired Army infantryman, wanted the monster whitetail of Fayette County, Ohio, as bad as the next guy. This buck had a 9-inch drop tine and a 2-inch antler growing out of his left eye socket. It took Stuckey four years, but on Oct. 31, 2022, he made local history.
Stuckey found the buck’s sheds in 2018, which rough-scored 187 inches without a spread measurement. But the buck always hung around one of the few farms in the area where Stuckey doesn’t have permission. (The owners are close family friends but they hunt the land.) Stuckey didn’t see the buck again for the next two seasons, then saw him from the road in the spring of 2020, still on the same off-limits property. Then the buck moved closer to Stuckey’s hunting property this year. After a few close calls, Stuckey was able to make a 53-yard shot on the deer.
Stuckey’s taxidermist caped out the buck, being careful to avoid what Stuckey calls the “eye guard.” He preserved the left eye socket with its antler attached to the skull cap, bumping the rack to a Buckmasters score of 228 1/2. Read the full story here.
Ian Meridith Buck
Eighth-grader Ian Meredith picked the perfect day to play hooky on Monday, Sept. 26. Meredith had his sights set on a giant whitetail he’d nicknamed “Tackle Box”, and he’d seen the buck on trail cameras frequenting his family’s 400-acre property in Kentucky. His mother, Beth, wasn’t so keen on the idea at first, but of all people, it was one of Ian’s teachers who encouraged him to hunt that day.
“He was coming into my stand just about every morning in daylight, and it was the first day that the wind was right,” Ian told Drury Outdoors, which published the full story. “So I just had to hunt.”
A certified Buckmasters scorer gave Ian’s buck an official score of 238 6/8 inches. With those numbers, Drury Outdoors reports that the buck will likely go down as the biggest non-typical whitetail buck ever killed by a youth hunter in the Bluegrass State. Looking at the Boone & Crockett record book, the biggest non-typical to ever come out of Kentucky was a 274 5/8-inch buck that Jonathan Davenport picked up in 2019.