What I didn't realize two years ago when I met Heather Dean was the hunter she'd become. I knew she rifle hunted but that was it. After we dated awhile and took a few fishing trips together she became hooked on fishing. On her very second cast she hooked a 30-inch northern pike. It was no surprise after going on a few bowhunts, she wanted to try bowhunting. We practiced in the yard on a 3-D target and she went with me on the hunts; watched and learned, but didn't hunt until she felt she mastered the skills. On her 10th trip to the woods for this first year bowhunter, something special happened. It was a Friday we both had a half-day vacation and she wanted to hunt. We went and sat in a stand where I harvested an eight-pointer 3 weeks prior. I sat on the ground with a grunt tube, 40 yards away from Heather's position in a ladder stand. After a series of grunts I noticed Heather getting up and look over her shoulder; she turned back and gave the sign for a deer. She turned back to watch and the next thing I knew her eyes were as wide as dinner plates. "Big Buck" she motioned with her hands and grabbed her bow. I saw him at 60 yards and he was tending a scrape. I grunted at him, but got no response. I figured I'd try the bleat and if he bolted at least we tried. Right away he came in halfway and stopped offering only a full frontal shot. Heather waited for the broadside. I grunted some more and he came in really aggressively thrashing trees and grunting. He stopped about 40 feet from me and offered Heather the broadside shot she wanted. She took it! He was only 10 yards from Heather when she shot. We got on him right away after we heard the crash. We had no idea we would have a buck that would be 160-class, typical, according to a local taxidermist. After the required 60 day drying period, he'll be officially scored. Two weeks ago I married my best friend, and a hunting partner. We had a wedding slideshow and a lot of people pointed out that Heather catches bigger fish and harvests bigger deer. I had no idea this would happen. What a great start to a marriage! I promised Heather a new Mathews bow after she harvested her first bow kill. I don't know that she really needs it now. I think that 12-year-old, hand me down Darton did just fine. That's what I'll tell her every time we look at it on the wall.--Jeff Woodward.
My name is Bryon Strom, and I am a Border Patrol Agent out of Tucson, Arizona. I took this Coues deer during the August 2008 Arizona Archery deer hunt. This buck is a true buck of a lifetime for me, because I have worked so hard to try to attain such a magnificent trophy. I shot him on opening day with my Mathews Outback; after trying for many years to shoot an Arizona Coues with my bow. My buck scored 120 and carries a lot of mass throughout. Both main beams measure approximately 18 inches. Many of my fellow Agents that I work with out of Tucson are deer hunters, and any time off that we can get to hunt is greatly anticipated, and cherished. Arizona Coues deer country is typically along the southwest international border with Mexico. All of my fellow agents are doing all they can to keep that area safe for families to enjoy while out hunting
They say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. After killing a 158-class gross buck in 2007, I went back in 2008 looking for another great deer. My friend, Jeff Hines, and I were hunting Calhoun County, Georgia, again with great expectations. I must confess, I was getting a little weary because this was my 10th time out to this same place, and it was December 29. My friends had already told me that I would be hard-pressed to kill back-to-back brutes. As I was sitting in my deer stand that morning, I was thinking of how fortunate I was just to get to hunt some of the great places I have access to and if I didn’t kill another big deer, I would still go home feeling good about my season. When I turned back to my right, I said, “Wait a minute! That was not there a few minutes ago.” I looked with my binoculars and saw a heavy antlered buck licking his hind leg. It was 7:50 in the morning and a quick shot dropped the big buck in his tracks. I didn’t realize just how big he was untill I walked up on him and suddenly realized I had killed another Toad. This deer was a main frame 8-pointer with two kicker points that scored a gross 150. I will aways be indebted to my friend, Jeff Hines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Gaines, GA, and his father-in-law, Mr. Chaney, for allowing me to hunt this awesome place.–Steve Snider, Covington, Georgia
November 5, 2008 was an overcast drizzly day in Northeast Iowa. I sent a brief text message to my father telling him I would meet him right after school near our hunting spot. We met in a freshly picked cornfield at 3:20 that afternoon. I pulled my hunting clothes out of my tub and addressed my father about wind direction and good stands for the wind. I started to complain about the oncoming rain I could feel in the air. “Taylor, if you want to get out of the stand when it starts raining you can, I’ll meet you at the truck at dark,” he said. “But, remember you don’t get a chance unless you stick it out.” I agreed and took off in opposite direction. I knew he would be less than a mile away so I wasn’t too worried about the weather. I arrived at my tree stand about 3:35p.m. The wind was slowly dying and the moisture in the air was getting heavy. I settled back against the tree and continued to check for any signs of movement for about an hour. The hayfield that sat to the south of me was surprisingly empty of all creatures. The CRP to the east of me seemed to have some movement, but I had no visibility into the field. About 4:15 a nice 10-pointer walked by at 25 yards–he came up from the east in an odd direction I was not expecting. I got up slowly and connected my release. I had one shooting lane and the shot was a tougher angle. Adrenaline was rushing through my body when I decided it was all or nothing. I missed right under his white belly hair. He jumped a bit and returned walking to the north. I figured I had missed my big chance for the year and sat down calming my nerves. I was just about relaxed again when a nice 11-pointer came out of the CRP and into the hay field that lay directly to my south. He started walking west and I figured I would never get the chance to shoot another big deer in one night. But, I stood up and got my bow ready and waited anxiously as he crossed the field about 40 yards out. He stopped directly parallel from me and turned to come straight for my stand. The only thought running through my head was “this is too good to be true, he will break off, and no way I will get a chance at him.” Sure enough he continued right for me and at about 12 yards out he stopped to nibble on a tree branch. He was angling slightly away when I took my shot. As soon as my finger hit the release I knew I had a kill shot. I watched him disappear into the CRP and I settled back to take in what I had just accomplished. Searching for my deer was the most frustrating thing I have dealt with in deer hunting. We had no blood trail and no arrow. The only thing we had was my approximate location of where I last saw him and my assurance of my deadly hit on him. The blood spots ran dry three times and every time I reassured my dad he was dead. About 100 yards into the CRP we saw he had fallen. A few yards further lay my trophy buck. It was all over but the tears. I had done it. At 17 years old, I had outshot most of the grown archers in the area. One of the biggest highlights of my life was the dreary November day. My buck had a 17 and three quarter inch inside spread and scored 156 gross and 151 net.–Taylor Daubenberger
My sights were set in late summer after capturing a few trail camera pictures of a great deer on our upstate New York land. Having no luck through archery season, I carried a new muzzleloader during the gun season, and although I had two close encounters with the deer, I still had no luck in connecting. My last opportunity came during the last weekend of the late muzzleloader season. It was 17 degrees with snow on the ground and little deer movement. Early on December 14 I set up where I had found tracks the previous day between some standing corn that was off our property and what I believed to be the bedding area on our property. I was only on stand for 10 minutes when I saw movement heading toward me. I reached for my binoculars but there was no need. When he reached 40 yards, I let the hammer fall. After the smoke cleared, I saw the deer running to the north. After an easy tracking job in the snow, I located my largest deer to date. This was only the 5th shot from my new Muzzleloader and the first shot at game.–Erik Tirpak
What I didn’t realize two years ago when I met Heather Dean was the hunter she’d become. I knew she rifle hunted but that was it. After we dated awhile and took a few fishing trips together she became hooked on fishing. On her very second cast she hooked a 30-inch northern pike. It was no surprise after going on a few bowhunts, she wanted to try bowhunting. We practiced in the yard on a 3-D target and she went with me on the hunts; watched and learned, but didn’t hunt until she felt she mastered the skills. On her 10th trip to the woods for this first year bowhunter, something special happened. It was a Friday we both had a half-day vacation and she wanted to hunt. We went and sat in a stand where I harvested an eight-pointer 3 weeks prior. I sat on the ground with a grunt tube, 40 yards away from Heather’s position in a ladder stand. After a series of grunts I noticed Heather getting up and look over her shoulder; she turned back and gave the sign for a deer. She turned back to watch and the next thing I knew her eyes were as wide as dinner plates. “Big Buck” she motioned with her hands and grabbed her bow. I saw him at 60 yards and he was tending a scrape. I grunted at him, but got no response. I figured I’d try the bleat and if he bolted at least we tried. Right away he came in halfway and stopped offering only a full frontal shot. Heather waited for the broadside. I grunted some more and he came in really aggressively thrashing trees and grunting. He stopped about 40 feet from me and offered Heather the broadside shot she wanted. She took it! He was only 10 yards from Heather when she shot. We got on him right away after we heard the crash. We had no idea we would have a buck that would be 160-class, typical, according to a local taxidermist. After the required 60 day drying period, he’ll be officially scored. Two weeks ago I married my best friend, and a hunting partner. We had a wedding slideshow and a lot of people pointed out that Heather catches bigger fish and harvests bigger deer. I had no idea this would happen. What a great start to a marriage! I promised Heather a new Mathews bow after she harvested her first bow kill. I don’t know that she really needs it now. I think that 12-year-old, hand me down Darton did just fine. That’s what I’ll tell her every time we look at it on the wall.–Jeff Woodward
It all started on Monday, November 10, 2008, while hunting with my “little” brother in Pike County, Illinois with Eagle Lakes Outfitters. That Monday morning was perfect, cold and clear, the bucks were searching for does and the rut was in full swing. I was sitting in my stand in a finger of woods that ran between a CRP field and a food plot when a 3.5 year old, 130-class seven-pointer ran across the food plot and entered the finger of woods on a run that crossed in front of me at 22 yards. I didn’t see him until he was entering the woods, so I had only a split second to judge the buck and then shoot. I stopped him dead in his tracks with a doe bleat and put my arrow right through his shoulder and heart. He ran 30 yards and dropped in the middle of the food plot. This was just the beginning of our successful day though. My younger brother was also hunting Pike County. He was on a different farm and was also seeing good buck movement. Being more interested in football and lacrosse as a kid, he had only been hunting since 2007 and had only taken two does with a shotgun in the past. That afternoon at lunch, he asked me to sit in the stand next to him and give him some pointers. After about two hours, we had not seen many deer. That was all about to change though. All of a sudden at about 4:30 p.m. we heard something running across the cornfield behind us and I looked over my shoulder and saw a large buck heading directly for us. I immediately knew it was a shooter, but had no time to count points, I just told him to grab his bow from the holder and get ready to shoot. As he took the bow off of his bow holder, a branch became lodged between his string and wheel. As he played with getting it untangled, I reached over and broke the branch off the bow. During that time, the buck had entered the woods and started making a scrape directly behind us at 20 yards. While he was making his scrape, my brother asked me one more time if it was a shooter and I said “just shoot, he is a shooter, trust me.” He drew his bow while the big buck made his scrape and then the buck took a smell of the air and looked right at him. In a moment that seemed to last forever, while the buck was looking right at us trying to figure out what we were, my brother released his arrow and it passed perfectly through the buck. The buck ran 20 yards and fell over dead in the cornfield right in front of us. The buck was old, had great mass and scores in the mid-140s. This was his first bowkill and his first buck ever. The best thing about it is that I was able to be there in the treestand with him to see and experience the whole thing. Two great bucks with the bow in one day–two lucky brothers on a great hunt in Pike County.-Vincent Failla
I took my hunter education class this past fall and I couldn’t wait for my step-dad Bradie to take me hunting. The first day of youth season, Bradie took me to his parents’ farm to start hunting and we walked down the fence row and we heard deer running. We sat down to make them think we were a cow. A little while later, a doe passed almost 15 feet in front of us. After the doe passed Bradie asked me if I wanted a doe or a buck? I said I wanted a buck. Bradie pointed to the top of the hill at a buck and said: “That is want you want.” We took off to cut him off and got up in front of him when Bradie pointed in front of us to the buck. I turned to see the biggest buck I have ever seen. Bradie rested the rifle on a willow tree and I squeezed the trigger. I pulled my shot. Two weeks later came regular season and I was ready to get back out there again to find myself a big buck. We didn’t see anything that morning so went back out at 3 pm and immediately saw two does running. We walked a little bit further and there he was. Bradie pointed him out to me and we crawled over to the fencerow. Bradie rested the gun on the fence and I jacked a shell in it and hit him in the shoulder. I jacked another shell in while he ran away a little bit. We went to the other side of our blind then I shot him in the neck and he dropped. After I shot him it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. My deer was an 11 point buck.–Jared Simmons
The 2008 Nevada Mule Deer rifle season turned out to be a memorable one for my grandson Brady Liebsack. The season started on a Sunday, so most hunters postponed their hunt until the following weekend. As the weekend approached, so did a low-pressure weather storm dumping several inches of snow in the mountains and foothills. It was accompanied by north winds and freezing temperatures. A few short day-hikes produced nothing but teary eyes and frozen fingers making the warmth of our cabin and the fireplace even more inviting. We decided that our late evening hunt would probably just be a road hunt hoping for the weather to let up. We drove into a small draw that was somewhat protected and began glassing the ridges. I spotted a lone buck standing on the horizon with his back to the wind and looking at the area. I sensed that he was waiting for us to leave so he could wait out the storm in the protection of the high serviceberry bushes. Since the day was ending, our choice was to come back the next morning and hunt for this impressive lonesome buck. The storm continued throughout the night leaving us the same conditions to start our hunt the next morning. Brady invited his uncle Scott Cantrell to accompany us and we started our hike after first light from the same spot that we had glassed from the night before. Trudging through five inches of snow and facing a stiff wind, we climbed higher up the draw. An hour into the hike, Scott began glassing the ridges around us and shortly afterward spotted our trophy bedded on a ridge just 150 yards away. He had been watching us and seemed ready to bolt at any moment. I produced the shooting-stix and Brady made himself comfortable finding the buck in his scope and ready for the shot. The buck presented him a narrow, straight-on shot at his chest area and upon squeezing the trigger, the buck bounded over the ridge and out of sight. We listened as we could hear him crashing through the heavy brush and bounding away from us. Scott remained, as we slipped around the side-hill, until we located his bed and then he followed. Not sure if Brady’s shot had hit its mark, we proceeded to track the large buck around the side of the ridge and down into the next draw. His tracks seemed steady and there was no sign of blood until we walked up on him lying dead in the snow 100 yards from where he had been bedded. The shot had entered his chest, and penetrated his heart. The buck is a 28 ½-inch, 3X4–Brady’s third in three years of qualifying for a Nevada Junior tag.–Steve Feasel
Attached is a photo of my son’s 1st Buck. He shot it on opening day of the Wisconsin 2008 Youth Hunt. It was shot on our property located just outside of Eastman, Wisconsin. We are located approximately 10 miles east of the Mississippi River and 10 miles north of the Wisconsin River. There were two bucks about 135 to 150 yards away. I saw the bucks, handed the Savage .243 youth rifle to Hunter. He asked ‘Which one do I shoot?’. I said ‘The biggest one. The one on the right.’ Hunter sighted in and shot but missed. He ejected the shell and thought he chambered in the next round.The 2 bucks were looking around wondering what was going on. I told Hunter to take his time, the deer did not know we were there. He sighted in, pulled the trigger and click. When he ejected the 1st round, he didn’t pull the bolt far enough back to chamber the next round. I reached down and chambered the second round into the rifle. By this time, the big buck was facing our way. I told my son to wait until he was broadside and that the bucks still didn’t know we were there. After about a minute or two, the bigger buck was broadside to us. I told Hunter to take his time and steady himself and shoot when he was ready. After another minute my son shot. The buck dropped in his tracks. We got down from the stand and walked, well maybe a slow run, over to the downed buck. My son and I were ecstatic. There on the ground was a main-frame 5×5 with two stickers. I said: ‘I think he’s a wall hanger, but we’ll have to check with Mom first.’ Well, my son’s birthday wish is going to come through and his buck is being mounted. I won’t ever forget that day till the day I pass but still have another day to look forward to. My daughter will be able to hunt next year and is raring to go. -Tracy Carlson
I arrowed this 157 5/8-inch gross non-typical, 151′-inch gross typical on 11/13/2008 in southeastern Kansas. After scent-checking two does, two short grunts on the Buck Growl grunt tube brought the buck to 18 yards where he offered me a perfect quartering-away shot.–Tom Nadler
My name is Ashleigh Stewart, I am 12 years old from Tempe, Arizona. I took this mule deer on October 13 2008, in the Bradshaw Mountains, Arizona, with my .243. I shot this deer on opening morning, and it was my first big game hunt.
Prize winning buck.JPG
This deer was harvested in Ohio on Oct. 18. It was taken with a Mathews Switchback XT bow at 16 yards using 75 grain Wasp broadhead . The buck had an 8point rack and measured 135 P&Y. This is my best buck to date using a bow.. Not to shabby for a senior citizen.–Ted Schreiber
Ten-year-old Jordan Stoltzfus shot this gorgeous 19-point buck in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland while hunting with his dad. He used a 20 gauge shotgun to down the deer.
November 20 was a very cold fall day. I decided that I was going to sit out behind my house in my grandfather’s spot where he normally turkey hunts and watch for deer. I sat and down not expecting to see anything but does. Five minutes later a small spikehorn came out and wandered around in front of me. He ended up smelling me and trotted back up into the woods. After about 10 minutes, I could hear a deer walking in the woods. I thought it was the spikehorn coming back until I really listened to the footsteps. I knew then that this was a good-size deer heading right for me. The only problem was I could not see it anywhere. I could only hear the footsteps getting closer and closer. My heart started to beat a little faster the closer it was getting. About 20 yards in front of me was a large bush that the deer was walking behind. I could not see him until he was directly behind it. He turned to move around the bush I could see that this deer had a massive rack. It was time now for the safety to come off. I had to be patient now, and wait for him to move into clear shooting range. When he moved the two steps in the right direction, wrong direction for him, I shot. He fell right there in his tracks. I could not believe it. Not even 20 yards away from me was the biggest deer I have ever seen or shot. I called my father right away to come and help me because I am six-months pregnant. He didn’t really believe me on the phone how big this deer was. He couldn’t believe the size until he saw it himself. The best part is my father shot his biggest deer ever on November 21, 1968. He still holds the county record, 40 years later. I shot this deer with my new Browning X-bolt .308 cal. with a Nikon 3X9 BDC Riflescope. If any other ladies are looking for a nice light weight and short rifle I highly recommend this Browning.–Abbey Wade SEE MORE DEER OF THE YEAR ENTRIES HERE:
DOY ENTRIES part 1 DOY ENTRIES part 2
Our readers show off more Deer of the Year entries.