Jed Holland with his Iowa bowkill.
Like proud parents, we can’t help but brag about our readers–America’s best deer hunters. Here are just a handful of the hundreds of candidates in Outdoor Life’s Deer of the Year feature. Our favorites will appear in the April 2009 issue of Outdoor Life. My name is Brian Krutsinger I live in central Illinois. Two days before the first gun season I saw this deer in the middle of a bean field with a doe pinned down and a curious little buck pestering this guy. As I drove off, the deer ran away from my hunting area into the next section two miles in the opposite direction from where I hunt. Thinking that would be the last time I’d see him, I went on my way to work. I called the guy that hunts the land next to me and told him about the deer and to send him back in my direction. On the last day of the first season about 9:30 in the morning–just about ready to pack it in–I saw movement in the thick stuff. I could tell right away it was him. He was almost crawling through the brush when he got to the edge of the river he had a choice to turn north or south. North it was. I drew up the 870 SP, laid the crosshairs on him as he trotted through the timber, but saw only tree after tree. He was at 80 yards and I couldn’t let him go any further. I cracked one off and he froze–big mistake. The next shot dropped him in his tracks. How he made it through the first two days of the season and all the way back to my area I’ll never know but am glad he did. He is a main frame 8-pointer grossing around 172 (unofficial) has a couple of points on the left base. It’s biggest deer of my 30 years of hunting.
I grew up hunting 65 acres in Grenada, MS and only dreamed of taking a Boone and Crockett buck. Well, my dream came true. I first saw this buck the second weekend of dove season and I began looking and hunting for him. I scouted and set up stands and began bow season looking for him. One of my climber stands proved to be in a good spot. One evening, as I was watching some thick cover, I spotted a deer. Immediately I was hoping it was big boy, but it was only a 4-point. However, right after this 4-point came by, I saw him, the monster buck. He passed by me at an agonizing slow walk about 90 yards off and walked out of sight. I did not see him again for many, many weeks. All that changed on November 9. I went back to hunt the location I had seen the buck before, but the cotton farmers messed up that stand cutting the cotton stalks. So that pushed me back on the field where I had see the buck back in dove season. I was not really expecting to see the buck in the open field, but as the field gathered more and more deer, my anticipation grew. At 4:55, the big boy came out in the field following 8 does and an 8-point. He was 300 yards away and I had about 35 minutes of daylight so I decided to watch him and see if he would come closer. At 5:05, with some deer beginning to leave the field, I decided I would shoot. He was at 250 yards and I hit him hard with my Browning 30-06. The buck was hit hard, but as he left the field, I knew I was going to give him an hour or so to make sure i did not push him. The club manager, another hunter and myself went back to the woods a little after 6 and found the deer after less than 100 yards. He is a straight up, clean 10 point, scored 182.25 and weighed 232 pounds. Truly an awesome buck for a guy who hardly ever saw mature bucks for the first 20 years of deer hunting.–Jeremy McMahon
This hunt took place the evening of September 13–the Minnesota bow opener and 11 days before I turned 18. After 2 1/2 hours on stand and seeing nothing, a small 8-point slips from the swamp. Minutes later this big guy follows, and after staring me down for almost five minutes, he turns his head giving me a 35-yard shot. With only 15 minutes of shooting light left, the arrow found its mark. After a short trailing job, I found my trophy. He is a 24-inch wide, main frame 10-point with spilt brow tines and an inch-long G5 on the left antler–just enough to call him a 13 point.–Ben Walsvik
2008 was a very good year for me–a year of firsts. When mid-September arrived, I was very anxious to fill my much-coveted, early season rifle tag AND I was eight months pregnant! I harvested my first buck on the fourth day of the hunt, and one month later I gave birth to our first child. The large, typical four-point ended up with a net B&C score of 171 1/8. Oh yes, and Cabela’s–will you start making maternity camo?
This deer was taken Nov. 8 2008, with a Black Widow bow and Beman arrow with Stinger broadhead. I was hunting with my son, older brother and his son. We had set a day to go bowhunting with our kids and sit all day. The day came with excitement, hoping that we had picked a good weekend to spend in the woods with family–as if there is a bad one. This deer scored about 160 gross with a 21-inch , inside spread. It was a very good weekend indeed. My nephew also shot a good deer the next day that scored 146 gross. Priceless times in the woods that can never be replaced.–Kurt Nielsen
I am a retired (20Year) U.S. Army Infantry Airborne/Ranger. I have been on six real world missions in my 20 years of service, the last mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom with Charlie Company 1-87 IN, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Fort Drum, NY. I currently work on Fort Leavenworth, KS I am a Military Analyst, continuing to support the Army team and the soldier of our great country. This was my first-time ever hunting and I think it is a pretty amazing story.–Tom Carson
My name is Cody Johnson. I grew up hunting in Utah and always had a bias for mule deer but have fallen in love with hunting whitetails here in the Midwest. I was unsuccessful on the archery but had a great time in my treestand. I am a pediatric dental resident here at the University of Iowa. This is my first whitetail buck. His unofficial score is 161 typical and grosses 175. The 2008 hunt is one I will always remember.
This was a daddy/daughter date to remember. I have always told my daughter, Amber, that when she turned 7 I would take her hunting. She turned 7 this past summer. On Nov. 1, we went to our farm in northwestern Missouri for the first day of the Missouri Youth Deer season. I was expecting to spend the day with my daughter and have fun (hunting, fishing, walking in the woods, etc). On the first afternoon a doe was walking to our stand. I was getting everything moved inside the blind to have my daughter take the doe. When I looked behind the doe, a 145-inch, 9-point buck was following. It took my daughter one shot to drop her first deer. I was shocked and so proud of her. We had a wonderful day together and now have a trophy buck to remind us.–Darrell Trachsel
Jed Holland with his Iowa bowkill.
Never before had I shot my bow with my quiver on, but there had to be a first time and this was it. I saw the arrow enter up to the fletching, quartering toward this huge buck’s front right shoulder. He ran 10 yards, walked another 60 yards until he was directly in front of me at 50 yards, and then dropped to the ground. The official time of death was 4:15 p.m. He has everything that you would want in a mature buck (length, mass and character). I can say that the story is as good as the buck, and we will wait for 60 days to get the rack scored by an official scorer. The main-frame 10-point grossed 188 2/8 and field-dressed 195 pounds.–John Carpenter, New Philadelphia, Ohio
After spending three days tracking and chasing several mule deer bucks, Kurtis Paulson of Kalispell, MT connected on this 167-class mule deer. The hunt was a classic DIY in Eastern Montana with an over the counter deer tag.
This was my first trip to hunt in Saskatchewan and I had been wanting to go for years. Everyone at camp said to pass up the small ones when you know a big one is in there. Little did I know that meant passing up 8, 9 and 10 pointers in the 120-140 range each day–deer that, anywhere else, you would have been proud to have. The rut was still going on so I saw everything a deer hunter sees on the TV shows over the course of three days. As each day went on, I kept saying to myself, ‘I’ll give him one more day.’ On the next to last day of the hunt, it happened. It was around 5 p.m. and getting dark. While watching a 10-pointer and a doe, I saw another deer come out from the corner of the field. Silhouetted against the snow, his large dark brown rack was easily visible and I recognized him as the buck I had seen trail cam photos of back at camp. This is the best deer of my life and easily beats my former biggest by over 20 inches. The 10-point grossed 153 B&C.–Chris Tierney, Atlanta, Georgia
My name is Ray Holohan. Here are pictures of two bucks I recently harvested within 4 days of each other. I got the 11-point bowkill after hunting 48 days straight or 150 hours in a tree. The 13-pointer that I shot with my slug gun grosses 191 as a main-frame 10 with 8 inches of deductions for a net of 171 typical . The 11-point grossed164 and nets 156 typical. The county was Iroquois IL.
My dad, Steve Ward, is proud of his buck and I am so proud of my dad. He got the deer with his bow on December 28, 2008. The deer scored 168 1/8 inches and was a 12-point. He was on a hunt in northern Missouri.
It was Wednesday, October 8, 2008. It rained off and on all day long. I got off work, rushed home to change into my camouflage, grabbed my Remington .270 bolt-action rifle and out the door I went. I was in the stand at 5:15 that evening and sat through the rain as it went from a light sprinkle to a monsoon of a downpour. Although I was miserable, I wasn’t miserable for long. After texting my husband, I turned to my right to slip the cell back into my pocket and saw this big buck. He has a 16 ½-inch inside spread. His G1’s are 10 ½ inches long and the G2’s were 8 ½” long. –Kelly Lynn Billbrough, Branchville, SC

These bucks will blow your mind. Check out some of 2009’s Deer of the Year candidates and tell us your favorite.