We’ve all had the dream: We’re sitting in our deer stand as the sun slowly illuminates the land. The fog hangs on, teasing us by making every branch look like an antler. Rambunctious squirrels sound like a herd of monster bucks fighting just out of sight. A doe creeps into view, coming ever so close to your tree. She keeps looking back at the brush line. What is it? A buck? Sure enough, in comes the dominant buck of not only your area, but every area. You’re nervous, but you manage the shot and harvest the buck of legends.
Tagging a trophy-book buck takes work, dependable gear and luck. Killing one that ends up being one of the biggest of all time takes that and then some.
Will 2016 be “the year” when the record falls? And what record, you ask?
Whitetail bucks are classified as typical or non-typical. Typical bucks generally have a symmetrical rack with the classic shape; just some of them can be really, really big. Non-typical bucks are the ones that, for whatever reason, form asymmetrical racks. Typical racks are easiest to score by way of total inches. That’s where it gets a little tricky and controversial. We’ll get to that as we look at some specific bucks.
The two main record-keeping groups are Pope & Young, which covers archery trophies, and Boone & Crockett, which covers all trophies, even those that died from natural causes and accidents. To be considered for either system, your hunt must be fair chase and meet the guidelines set by either group. Official scorers for each organization measure trophies, with deductions taken for imperfections on a typical rack. That’s the rub – not everyone has always agreed on what makes for a scorable vs. abnormal point.
Entering a big buck into P&Y or B&C is all about honoring the animal. That’s what makes these bucks so special. They grew to massive size – and continue to grow in the hearts and imaginations of hunters worldwide.
Below are some of the most magnificent whitetails ever known to walk North America. Sure, the chances of you killing a buck of similar size are remote, but hey . . . we all can dream!
The Hanson Buck
The Hanson buck, taken by Milo Hanson in Biggar, Saskatchewan, in November of 1993, ranks as the current B&C title holder typical buck with a jaw-dropping score of 213 5/8. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to see the buck, or replicas of its impressive antlers, you would remember it. They’re beyond impressive. The buck was taken on Hanson’s farm during a deer drive on the second week of the season. Several people had seen the buck prior to it falling to Hanson’s .308 Win., and some had even shot at it. A bullet from Hanson’s rifle even chipped an antler!
The Mel Johnson Buck
The Mel Johnson buck holds Pope & Young’s top spot as the biggest archery kill on record with an amazing 204 4/8 score. What makes this buck so impressive, besides the massive size, is that Johnson took the beast back in 1965 using a 72-pound-draw recurve! Johnson shot the buck after sneaking out for a morning hunt in the brush along a bean field in Peoria County in Illinois. He sat patiently while the buck moved in from over 300 yards away.
The Jordan Buck
The Jordan buck may be one of the strangest tales in all of big buck-dom – not because of how the buck was harvested, but what became of the buck afterward. The buck, which scores an amazing 206 1/8 B&C, was taken by James Jordan back in 1914 in Wisconsin. Mr. Jordan then took the buck to a local taxidermist. The taxidermist then moved, taking the rack with him. The buck found its way back into the hands of the rightful owner many years later in an unusual fashion. A relative of Jordan’s bought a mounted deer at a yard sale. After describing it to James, it didn’t take long to determine that the $3 find was, in fact, the buck that would reign as the world number one typical up until 1993.
Two Non-typical Monsters
The top two non-typical bucks never fell to a hunter’s bullet or arrow, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. The B&C world record was found by a hunter in St. Louis County, Missouri, back in 1981. Scoring an astounding 333 7/8 B&C, the buck (below) was reported to a state game warden, who determined that it died of natural causes.
Number two on the non-typical list is the famous Hole in the Horn Buck, found in Ohio in 1940 after it had been hit by a train. Scoring 328 2/8 B&C, the rack was displayed in a sportsman’s club in Portage County for many years before it was discovered, scored and took its rightful place in the record books.
Beyond the Top 5; Two Controversial Bucks
There’s been a couple of serious challengers to Milo Hanson’s record buck, none more serious than the King buck, taken in 2006 in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. The fact that the buck is huge is obvious. What’s not so obvious is the score. King shot the buck with his father’s .30-30 Savage rifle while meat hunting during the state’s firearm season. If the buck would be scored as a typical 6×6, it would fall into the 220- to 222-inch class – easily eclipsing the Hanson buck. However, B&C scorers determined the buck was a 5×5 with two abnormal points. Not everyone agrees, or even comes close to agreeing on anything other than the buck is really big.
And the King Buck isn’t the most controversial. That dubious honor falls on Michigan hunter Mitch Rompola and his massive buck that may, or may not have been real. The buck, claimed to have been taken near Traverse City, Michigan, on November 13, 1993, quickly became the talk of the deer hunting world. The buck initially believed to score 216 5/8 B&C, was thought of as a possible new typical world record, but many questions arose. Some say the rack is fake, some believe the hunter. We may never know the truth, as the hunter essentially took his buck and went home, withdrawing it from public scrutiny.
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s