I was on a neighbor's ranch in southeastern Wyoming hunting with my wife's cousin. He is from South Dakota and decided to tag along just for the experience. We hunted in several places when we decided to go to a spot where I had seen good-sized deer the previous year. Just as I had hoped, a big buck ran up the side of a canyon and followed the same route I had seen a buck follow before. I took a couple shots though it was on a side hill and I couldn't get my bipod steady on the ground. My next shot was within 200 yards and I knew I had him as he looked through some brush in the bottom of a draw. All I could see was his head. I knew he was big so I didn't want to head-shoot him, so I aimed right below his chin. To my surprise, he was standing behind a bank that must have nearly covered him. Dust exploded from the place where his neck should have been. After that moment I thought I would never see a buck like that again,. From a mile away I saw him run into the next canyon and noticed that his rack was wider than his body. I let a monster buck get away. I thought. A couple days later I went back to the area. I heard some rustling in the brush to my right and turned to see a buck erupting from the brush about 50 feet away. He was running up the bank and he was so close I couldn't find him in my scope, so I looked around the scope found him and then put the crosshairs back on him. I shot him in the spine as he was running up the bank and then again in the shoulder. I had no idea he was that big until I got up to him and realized that I had shot a buck of a lifetime and didn't know it. I'm glad I didn't know how big he was so the nerves couldn't take their toll on my shooting.--David Otto.
This buck was the culmination of 25 years of hunting. I had actually seen him two days before moving from a feeding to bedding area and had a shot at 135 yards with my muzzleloader but passed the shot as it was hurried and a little out of my comfort zone. When I got home that day I told my wife that I had seen the biggest deer of my life so far and blew the chance at him. Needless to say I was beating myself up pretty badly for screwing up an opportunity at such a nice deer. Two days later I went back out to the area. At daybreak, I had a group of does walk by me at less than 20 yards. Not wanting to end my hunting season just yet and knowing there were lots of deer still on the field I held off. Funny how seemingly small decisions turn out to make huge impacts. As the sun came up higher, I watched a group of 10 to 15 deer come off the field and start across the open flat towards the river. This buck was in the back of the group. I was glad they where a long way away as it took me a few minutes to get calmed down and get my heart back in my chest. It seemed like I had two birthdays waiting for this buck to come within range of where I was laying. When he came within 80 yards I pulled the trigger and heard the bullet strike home. It took us a little to track him down but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I finally put my hands on him. He unofficially gross scored 144 7/8ths B&C with G2s that pushed 11 inches on both sides. He is a perfect 4×4 with one little kicker on his right side. As I said before I have been hunting for 25 years and this is the biggest deer I have ever harvested. As a teacher and a coach I can’t afford to lease land to hunt or go on paid hunts so I appreciate land owners who still let guys like me hunt for nothing more than a little help fixing fence or working cows.–Casey Walker
2008 started of on a good note for me this year. My first evening out this eight point walked broadside 15 yards from my stand. He stopped as soon as he entered a clearing and only ran 70 yards once I shot him.–Matt Essig, Aledo, Illinois
It was November 8th and my brother Steve and I had been pheasant hunting the day before with some success. On Friday night the weather turned from the 50s down to below 30 overnight and we were one week from shotgun season. Everything was right! I went to the back of my property to a stand that I only checked once and had not yet hunted from. It’s a hanging stand, 25 feet in the air with an old TV antenna strapped to the tree for a ladder. Once in my stand, the action was non-stop. Two does where stirring up the five bucks I watched that morning and this was in the first 45 minutes of the day. When I heard the fifth buck coming in over my shoulder from the west I decided to stand (good move) and this buck came in quick. He had great antler mass and was a big-bodied deer. As I drew back, he stopped 20 yards broadside and I decided this is a shooter. The arrow hit perfectly and the animal ran 100 feet to the creek edge and jumped in. It sounded like the buck had been dropped from a plane and I didn’t see him after that, so did he turn along the creek or what? I climbed down and walked over to the creek and looked into the water–no deer. I turned down stream a bit and noticed a small patch of fur about five inches by ten inches sticking out of the water, there he was and now I could see two antler points and a fully submerged deer….great. Well I fish him out of the water and his antlers had grown. He was the 10-pointer I had seen and after parading him all over town and to the Irish Pub. He is now at the taxidermist and should score in the 140’s. I don’t care what the ultimate score will be, he is a big beautiful buck that I shot on my property with my bow. The week before my eight year old son and I had spent some time in the stand and he grunted in a nice eight-point buck and a couple of doe’s, so you can see his excitement and I’m sure he will be anxious to be with me next year. –Matt Washburn
I was on a neighbor’s ranch in southeastern Wyoming hunting with my wife’s cousin. He is from South Dakota and decided to tag along just for the experience. We hunted in several places when we decided to go to a spot where I had seen good-sized deer the previous year. Just as I had hoped, a big buck ran up the side of a canyon and followed the same route I had seen a buck follow before. I took a couple shots though it was on a side hill and I couldn’t get my bipod steady on the ground. My next shot was within 200 yards and I knew I had him as he looked through some brush in the bottom of a draw. All I could see was his head. I knew he was big so I didn’t want to head-shoot him, so I aimed right below his chin. To my surprise, he was standing behind a bank that must have nearly covered him. Dust exploded from the place where his neck should have been. After that moment I thought I would never see a buck like that again,. From a mile away I saw him run into the next canyon and noticed that his rack was wider than his body. I let a monster buck get away. I thought. A couple days later I went back to the area. I heard some rustling in the brush to my right and turned to see a buck erupting from the brush about 50 feet away. He was running up the bank and he was so close I couldn’t find him in my scope, so I looked around the scope found him and then put the crosshairs back on him. I shot him in the spine as he was running up the bank and then again in the shoulder. I had no idea he was that big until I got up to him and realized that I had shot a buck of a lifetime and didn’t know it. I’m glad I didn’t know how big he was so the nerves couldn’t take their toll on my shooting.–David Otto
We hiked the hills for weeks in the rain, fog, mud, and snow until Nissa was able to fill her late Quilomene buck tag. We covered miles and miles of sage-riddled hills and steep-sided mountains thick with dense timber. And when the moment of truth unfolded, she made an amazing shot. 450 yards away in a 30 mph crosswind, blinding snow, and he was running through the timber. It was the shot of legends…. Well, I can’t lie, that’s only partially true, and not quite how this hunt played out. We actually found this buck uphill from the road about 300 yards from him. It was clear and calm and we got a late start, but let me tell you the story. We had been pretty lazy. Nissa’s tag started a week ago but we hadn’t been out yet. Busy school schedule for her, 18 weeks pregnant with our second child, and we had just finished nine hard days of elk hunting with no luck, preceded by nine hard days of deer hunting before that. I guess you could say we were a little burned out on hunting, or as close as you can be when you’ve hunted hard, put in the miles of boot-leather, and had no luck. So, the weekend approached and we both decided to take Saturday off. I know, I know, we should have been out there in the fog and rain hunting, but we just didn’t care. We both really needed to take a day to catch up on some sleep and just lounge around the house. To be honest, we were thinking of doing the same thing on Sunday as well, but logic prevailed and we managed to drag ourselves from the warmth of our bed and head to the hills. We still hadn’t made arrangements for anyone to care for our four-year-old daughter Jayme so, being a hunting family, we decided to include her in the hunt. Figuring there may be some birds out-and-about, along came the dog and shotgun too. Pretty soon we found ourselves pulling out of the driveway, with the sun already cresting the horizon while we made the hour-long drive to the Tarpiscan. Driving to a saddle between canyons we stopped to glass. We spotted a deer about 800 to 1000 yards away alone at the head of a brushy draw but we just couldn’t ID it very well. At first I called it a buck, 2 pt or better, and watched it work around the hillside until it bedded down. After watching it for a while it started to look more like a doe so we lost our enthusiasm to hurry after it. We all loaded back up in the Jeep and motored around the canyon, where we spotted a couple more deer working down the bottom of Big Springs’ canyon toward us. Watching them for a while they eventually spooked back up the way they came, a doe and a spike. We kept driving until we were below the bottom of the draw where that first deer was bedded. Stopping and looking up the road, Nissa spotted a small 2-pt (so small we called it a spike until she got closer later to ID it). Watching him and looking for other deer, we spotted this buck standing behind the brush and could see he was a good one. “Nissa, there’s a big one!” I said in an excited voice. Later she would tell me when I said that her heart skipped a beat. We watched as the smaller buck danced around, sort of playing with his big brother. The two walked out on a knoll, presenting a perfect broadside shot but Nissa was still loading her rifle and getting ready to take a shot. Then, just as suddenly as they were there, they were gone over the knoll. I hurried up the road, expecting to see them cresting the ridge heading for the next county but I didn’t see them. Our hearts fell as we realized a missed opportunity and contemplated our next move. Should Nissa hike up after them? Should we keep driving? We mulled it over and over for 5-10 minutes until glancing up we saw that the smaller buck was back, standing beside the brush looking behind him. “They’re still there.” I hissed at Nissa after throwing my binos to my face and spotting the bigger buck. The smaller one moved out from behind the brush and we waited for the big one to follow but he stayed behind the cover instead. We watched as he bedded, got up, moved into a small window where Nissa could have shot, but there was still some brush in the way so she paused. Then he bedded and stayed there safe in his overlook of us and the valley below. Waiting, watching, hoping, the buck didn’t budge, watching and listening to us, mostly paying attention to Jayme’s singing inside the vehicle as she played by herself. Struggling to decide what to do for those long minutes, then hour, I could tell the daughter and dog were getting restless so I let them out to play and walk around in hopes the buck would stand or move for a shot. Another hour passed with no change from the buck when he finally moved enough that Nissa had a clear shot. Range 280 yards. “Jayme, plug you ears!” Nissa barked and fired at the deer. Missing her first shot we watched as the buck got up and ran to the side of the brush where he stopped to see what all the noise was about. Presenting a quartering-on shot, Nissa followed up with a good hit, hair flying off his side. He started running down the draw toward us and stopped again broadside, where my wife put him down for good. She hiked up after him to make sure he was done. When word came over the radio that he was finished Jayme, Deke, and I followed to celebrate. To finish the hunt, she took it upon herself (insisted in fact) to drag the buck all the way down the draw to the truck. She then did all gutting and skinning as well. Who says women are the weaker sex? Not in my book.–James Bowen, Wenatchee, Washington
It was Thanksgiving Day and dad was talking about hunting again! He was passing around his video camera telling everyone about this big buck he saw for the last couple of weeks. I was intrigued, so I watched the video. As I watched the video I just wasn’t sure how big the buck was. It didn’t seem as big as he described. The whole night that is all he talked about to everyone. I hadn’t hunted in 15 years, but after my dad saw the big buck opening morning of rifle season, he called me. Dad told me to go get a license and pick up my brother Victor from his job and be there by 3:30. When we arrived Dad had all my clothes laid out and my shotgun on the pool table in the basement. Victor and I got dressed in some old musty smelly hunting clothes that were as old as my dad. Dad sent Victor down in the valley with Uncle Pablo. He had been on stand since 5:30 a.m. with nothing to eat or drink. Dad said he was dressed like it was archery season so I knew he was cold and hungry. He called up to the house and told Dad to send Victor down with a bottle of water. We gave Victor a half hour to get set up. Just before we left the basement, the sky got black and it started to sleet and rain. This was something we hadn’t planned on but it was perfect for stalking a big buck. Dad was videoing and trying to keep the camera dry and I was trying to keep my scope dry with a glove over it. As we snuck through the woods, you could hear the sleet on the leaves. It sounded like bacon cooking in a hot frying pan. As we neared the spot where dad had last seen the buck, I slowed down. I could just see the rack moving in the two-foot undergrowth. Dad said to crawl to the next tree about 20 yards closer and slide up the tree and smoke him before he makes his escape. I think he expected me to chase that monster to my uncle or to my brother. When I slid up the tree, he had just decided to leave his bed. I’m not sure if it was my perfume or just time to go eat. When he stood up, I still could only see his massive rack and neck so I dropped down and imagined where the vital area would be, I didn’t want him to get away. I didn’t want to lose the only shot I was going to have and I didn’t want to take a head shot. Dad was still videoing as the monster started to move. I squeezed off a shot. He dropped like a sky diver with no parachute. Dad turned the camera, still recording, and said “nice shot.” It made me feel great. Victor called five minutes after he heard the shot. He told him it was over and I had just gotten my first monster. Gross Score: 153 6/8–Lori Poole
I have been hunting in Minnesota for 39 years and never had a chance to shoot a trophy buck until the past two seasons. This year, I bagged a very nice 10-pointer with mass and points. He rough-scored 160 and measured 21-1/2 spread. In Wabasha, there are many large hills, this is what we call them, very hard to get up and down them by foot. We at time have to drive the hillsides to get the deer moving and have sitters at the other end to shoot the deer as they come through. Well on Monday after the weekend opener, I happened to be a driver on the last push of the day. This hill is straight up and I was the top ridge driver. Once I got up to the top, I took a short break and then waved on the other drivers to start walking through the woods below me. I walked about 100 yards and off to my right I saw a number of deer running, but couldn’t tell if there were any bucks in the group or not. So I stopped and watched for awhile as they departed down the hill to my right–never be seen again. So I continued to walk slowly and as quietly as I could along the ridge of the hill. I walked another 100 to 150 yard along the ridge, and all of a sudden I saw more movement to my right along a cedar tree ridge. Here was a large doe with a trophy buck following it, so as you can imagine I was very excited. I didn’t think I would get a very good shot at it as it was already 40 yards out and very brushy. I pulled up on the buck with my 12 gauge and was ready to let a slug go through the brush. Something told me to lower the gun and wait until I got a better and cleaner shot at this big boy. I knew he would follow the doe and could see her heading toward an open spot in the brush about 60 to 70 yards out. So I waited for her to go through this open area and knew he would follow. Sure enough, he was right behind her. I aimed and shot. All I could see was his large rack flopping all over. I couldn’t believe I hit him at all, yet drop him right there. What a rush. My hunting buddies didn’t know for sure if it was me who had shot or not and now I was on the other side of the hill and they would never find me. So I sat there for awhile and just looked at my trophy and couldn’t believe it. “I finally got my chance to bag a trophy buck and here I was all along no one to celebrate with.”–Keith Koenig, Richfield, MN
There was one lone tree in the milo field I was hunting so I climbed it to get a better view of the uncut milo and the bean field to the north. As soon as it got light, I could make out deer in the bean field at about 130 yards but couldn’t tell how big they were. Finally, I could see well enough to make out three small bucks and the other was a definite shooter. I got my T/C Omega braced on a branch, put the crosshairs on his vitals and squeezed the trigger–click. I forgot to put a percussion cap on after pulling the gun up into the tree that morning. Luckily, the deer were feeding and oblivious to my presence so I was able to put on a cap and settle in for the shot. I was at a bit of an awkward angle in the tree so when I pulled the trigger I got a smart whack on the nose by the scope. Through watering eyes I watched as the four bucks went up the hill away from me and disappeared into the bean field with the biggest one favoring his front leg. I thought I made a good shoot so I was surprised that he didn’t fall within sight, chalking it up to the toughness of a big muley. I decided to play it safe and give him an hour and a half before I started trailing him, which also gave me time to clean up my bloody nose. When I returned to the scene, I went to where he was standing at the shot and found only two spots of blood which made me very nervous. I started up the hill, walking very slowly looking for blood and went to the last place I saw him. I still hadn’t found any more blood and was resigned to working back and forth across the field until I covered the whole 160 acres hoping I would stumble on the buck. I was trying to find a needle in a haystack and at this point was feeling very sick to my stomach. Two hours later and after covering most of the back half of the field, I found myself back in the spot where I saw him disappear. I realized that he might not have continued straight away from me and could have made a hard right turn after he left my sight and entered a draw that ran parallel with the one he was in when I shot. I thought it was unlikely that he would double back and come within 150 yards of where he had been shot but couldn’t give up until I looked everywhere possible. My heart leaped when I walked within about 20 feet of him as I walked through that draw. He had doubled back and had tried to hide in some volunteer corn that had grown up in the draw less than 250 yards from the lone tree I had started in that morning. Needless to say I was relieved and pumped. I learned a valuable lesson about being persistent and not giving up just because you don’t have a blood trail to follow.–Doug Morland, Longmont, Colorado
At the ripe old age of 12, Jeffrey McCusker of Sparks, Nevada drew his first deer tag. Nevada Youth tag holders are allowed to hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. After eight days of bowhunting, three days of muzzleloading and five days of rifle hunting, he finally hit pay dirt on with this monster 30 5/8 inch wide, 4×4 Muley that weighed 250 lbs.
I didn’t get to do any scouting this year on our property at all because of always being away working. I had hunted the day and was already on my way in because of lack of action when I ran into two does. I figured I should go back for the last couple minutes of daylight. I got back to the edge of the field there was a smaller buck and this guy on the edge of our trees. I had to work my way up the treeline to get a shot and was finally able to get a good one. When I approached the deer, he kept getting bigger and bigger. It ended up being a 5×5 with two smaller double eye guards and a sixth mainframe tine–awesome mass and green scored at 171 inches. –Kolton Kasur
Rusty Paulsen of Hiawatha, Iowa poses with a trophy buck he shot November 9 in Benton County with a bow and arrow. The whitetail buck has 10 points with two additional brow tines. It field dressed at 210 pounds and preliminary measurements indicate a gross score in the mid 170s with a net score in the mid-150s, which should qualify for the Pope & Young record book. OTHER AWESOME DEER GALLERIES: Huge Reader Bucks Big Louie Deer of the Year [More Locked Bucks](/node/1001310783/More Locked Bucks)
EXCLUSIVE! Outdoor Life readers with their incredible trophy deer.