Deer of the Year Finalists

Kent Manglitz, River Falls, MN
"It was 4:00 p.m. on opening day of shotgun season when I decided to rattle. The woods came alive. First an 8-point came in and made a scrape. Some does fed to my right. Then 'Bowie' came down the hill. I'd seen trail cam photos, but never realized how big he was. He went 202  7⁄8 inches."
Kirk Pinyerd, Galion, OH
"I had set a 5-gallon bucket in a thicket near where I'd found some large rubs. Two hours before dark, on November 6, this buck walked past me at 20 yards, but I couldn't get a clear shot. The next morning, I got to the bucket early and cut a shooting lane. At 7:00 a.m. he walked into that shooting lane. He scored 168  3⁄8 and is the biggest buck I've seen in 25 years of hunting."
Matt Toth, Colorado Springs, CO
"Before last fall, I'd never hunted big game with a rifle. On the second evening of my hunt, this monster came walking down the hill straight toward my blind. I took one deep breath, exhaled and fired. He dropped in his tracks. When I walked up on him, I thought he had fallen into a brush pile, but it was actually his rack! He grossed 188 1⁄2 inches."
Shane Riley, Houston, TX
"I took this buck in Batesville, Texas. He was coming straight at my stand 200 yards away before turning and hopping a fence into a brushy fence line. After a while, I saw movement to my right. It was a doe and the big buck was on her heels. He went 169 and wasn't even my best buck of the season. A month before, I shot a 205-inch whitetail in Fulton, Missouri. He had split brow tines and split G2s."
Karlee Howard, Oklahoma City, OK
"Karlee and I were watching a group of does and button bucks when another doe walked in with this 15-pointer right behind her," says Karlee's mom, Kim. "It's the biggest deer anyone in our family has ever taken, and she's only 13!"
Jonathan Dahlstrom, Pocatello, ID
"This is the first whitetail I've ever harvested, but I've been trying for several years. I was hunting in Kansas' Butler County. I shot him on the cold, crisp morning of November 28 from a blind overlooking a small food plot on the back side of a milo field. He had come in from behind me and caught me off-guard, but I still managed to get off a shot. He'll score in the 135 range."
Mike Gregoire, Sheboygan Falls, WI
"Early one November morning, this brute came within 50 yards of my blind, but there wasn't enough light and he was too far away, so I let him walk. I went to work at 8:30 but took a half-day of vacation. At 3:00 p.m., five does were feeding in front of me when another doe busted out of the woods, with the big buck right behind her. I gave him a few grunts and he came to within 20 yards. He netted 175 3⁄8 inches."
Bill Heine, Denver, IA
"My sons and I bought 425 acres in northeastern Iowa in 2003, and have worked very hard to manage it properly for whitetails. Here's an example of our rewards. This buck offered me a 20-yard chip shot from one of my favorite stands. He scored 164."
Ron Klimes, Buhl, ID
"I stalked and crawled for three-quarters of a mile to get within range of this buck's bed. After 10 minutes, he finally stood up. The rifle is a T/C Renegade with a Green Mountain stainless-steel 1-in-28-inch-twist barrel and open sights. I also make my own bullets: 460-grain .500 S&W bullets made from a Lee mold. I paper patch them and size them to fit the rifle."
Dave Lorier, Oconomowoc, WI
"I was driving around scouting ducks with my son when I spotted this buck bedded down with a doe at a nearby public hunting area. I raced home, changed into my hunting gear, grabbed my bow and drove back to begin my stalk. When I finally spotted him again, the 160-class brute was at 30 yards, facing away from me."
Jesse Haw, Reno, NV
"My wife got me a bow for Christmas two years ago, but I struck out last season. This year I missed opening day to attend my daughter's birthday party. Two days later, I shot my first-ever deer at 38 yards on the side of a steep mountain. Two hours after spotting the buck bedded down, I had snuck within range. I would have been happy with anything more than a forkhorn. As it turns out, my buck is a very nice 181-inch 4x4 with a 27-inch spread."
Duane Veit, Davison, MI
"During my week-long Kansas hunt, I first spotted this buck at 600 yards. I got within 300 yards before he disappeared. I could tell he was a giant, though, and dubbed him the 'Onion Buck,' because he brought tears to my eyes. At 7:00 a.m. on the day I was to leave, I started a rattling and grunting sequence that drew the Onion Buck and an 8-point to my stand. When he cleared some branches at 10 yards, I released my arrow, which hit home on the 203-inch legend."
Jennifer Hawkins, Bloomington, IL
"I've only been hunting for two years. My husband got me into it, and now I'm hooked. I shot this buck, my first, on my parents' 16 acres of timber in Heyworth, Illinois. The taxidermist estimates he'll score around 180. He has a 25-inch spread and 12-inch G2s."
Austin Braund, Onalaska, WI
"Austin's been hunting with his dad since he was three," says Austin's mom, Debbie. "Thanks to Wisconsin's new mentor program, Austin, now 10, was the one with the gun this year. After he dropped this 11-pointer, he called me and used his dad's favorite line: 'Get your checkbook,' he said."
Jason Coffman, Palmyra, IN
"I bought my first bow in May of last year, and after four months of practice, I was ready. I was hunting some land my buddy Cary had scouted. He had seen a 2 1⁄2-year-old 5x5 he asked me to hold off on. He hadn't seen this buck, though, which I arrowed as he drank directly below my stand. We green-scored him at 201 inches."
Jacob Wade, Hinckley, OH
"Our 14-year-old son Jacob shot this buck during the Ohio youth season," says Jacob's dad, Joe. "We were sitting against a big tree on a steep hill when the buck and two does came in behind us. Jacob turned, raised his shotgun and made a great 25-yard off-hand shot. The 9-point has a drop tine and 5 3⁄4-inch bases."
Jason Ratliff, Ness City, KS
"My wife and I were hunting some friends' land when we spotted this buck bedded with several does on the edge of a CRP field. My wife dropped me at the next county road to try a stalk. Long story short, the two of us chased the big 6x6 for miles before I was able to slip within range and drop him at 40 yards. He field dressed over 280 pounds and green-scored 186."
Scott Hall, Eden, NC
"My dream hunt came as the result of a request I submitted to an organization called Answering Prayers. I hunted the 12,000-acre Teacup Mountain Wildlife Recreation Area in north Texas with Answering Prayers founder Steve Lecorchick and my dad, Ken. My 10-point buck scored 145 inches. It truly was the trip of a lifetime."
Allan Bunker, Sumpter Twp., MI
"My son Angelo and I had been in our stand for just an hour on opening day when Angelo saw this buck walking straight at us. Once I finally spotted him, I dropped the 180-class brute in his tracks. This is only my second buck in 40 years of hunting, and my first in 28 years."
Steve Day, Sun Prairie, WI
"I've hunted for 27 years and never shot a 'trophy' buck. This year I got two, both 150-class. I hit the buck on the left during bow season, but couldn't find him. We met again on opening day of gun season. I shot a doe later that day to earn another buck, which I claimed on the last evening of the season."
Tyler Harris, Las Cruces, NM
"My grandson Tyler and his older brother Derek were hunting in the lowlands near Upham, New Mexico," says the boys' grandfather, John Cox. "Derek spotted the deer lying down at 250 yards. When the deer stood up, Tyler shot. He ended up hitting the deer four times, two of which were at 250 to 270 yards with the deer running!"
Brandon Sieck, Martell, NE
"In the dark of morning on opening day, my dad and I settled into our stand. Throughout the day we saw a few bucks, but none trophy-worthy, so we moved to a different spot. At 3:00 p.m., this 11-point, 160-class buck appeared just 20 yards away. I knew instantly that it was the one I was waiting for!"
Travis Mehaffey, Deerfield, NJ
"I went to Illinois with my dad, cousin and two friends for a gun hunt last fall. Three hours into my first morning on stand, this whitetail walked into my piece of brush. He's an almost perfect 12-point, with two kickers on the right brow tine, forked G2s and a nickel-sized stub from a broken-off drop tine. He scored 193!"
Kyle Schroeder, Columbia, MO
"Due to veterinary school, I didn't have much time to hunt last fall. On October 20, I got out of school at 4:45 p.m., rushed home, grabbed my gear and ran to my stand. I didn't bother to climb up, but just sat at the base of the tree. After 20 minutes, an 8-point walked right past me, followed closely by this 194  1⁄8-inch monster."
Jason Hatch, Cedar Hill, TX
"I've hunted my grandmother's ranch in West Texas for 20 years, and this is the biggest buck we've ever seen there. I first spotted him in 2007, but didn't see him at all last year. He'll score around 165."
Kenny Myers, Mount Sidney, VA
"Last winter, while scouting with my hunting buddy Kelly, I found a number-11 pool ball at a dumpsite near an old homestead. I carried the ball all hunting season in my backpack. Lo and behold, I killed a great 11-point buck, which scored 130, with my son Kendall at my side."
Karl Moffet, Liberty, IN
"One afternoon during firearms season, a big rainstorm with high winds blew in and forced me out of my stand. Rather than walk straight to my truck, I stalked through the woods and came upon this 183 4⁄8-inch boss chasing does."
Amanda Brown, Moncks Corner, SC
"I started hunting with my father at age 6. We hunted ducks and turkeys, but whitetails have always been my favorite. In 2009, I decided to fly to Texas to try for a trophy buck. I hunted at a ranch outside of Lubbock in mid-November and was able to drop this 150-class whitetail on the third day. I also took a management buck, a coyote and a hog. What a rewarding experience!"
Paula Markus, Ravensdale, WA
"Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for me when I shot this 4-point whitetail. It had been snowing all day and the deer were on the move. He wandered up over a knoll just before dark, and one shot from 225 yards was all it took to complete the best hunt of my life!" Click here to check out the gallery of runner up photos >>