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New BIG DEER Blog Soon!
April 26, 2013

UPDATE May 2, 2013: We're getting close to having the new blog software up and running the way I want it, but it's taking some extra time to get it just right. The blog has gotten so big over the years with so much content (1,500 plus posts) that any changes require a lot of technical work/maintenance that is way above my pay grade.

It's the off-season and the right time to do it and tweak it and get it just right. Thanks for your patience and awesome support, I promise to make BIG DEER bigger and better!--Mike Hanback


Alberta Wolf!
April 24, 2013

In the TV business this is what we call a "screen grab," an image pulled from a video clip. I was reviewing the footage that we shot in Alberta last fall and got to thinking: Man, I am lucky to have hunted in all the places and seen all the things I have over the years...I never take that for granted.

I was stalking some deer when that big wolf came lumbering up the tree line. Actually, there were 2 wolves, but we only got the one on film. What an experience, just seeing that ultimate symbol of the wild! It moves you inside, makes you tingle. Some people have asked why I didn't take a shot at it. Well, I didn't have a wolf tag, and two, I didn't want to kill it anyhow. Seeing that predator was one of my top moments last fall, and I can't wait for you to see it on TV. I doubt many hunting shows got any wolf footage last year, but we did and I'm proud of that.

You can see my wolf encounter and that Canadian hunt on an episode of BIG DEER TV later this summer on Sportsman Channel.


Boone & Crockett Measuring Guide
April 22, 2013

The Boone and Crockett Club’s Field Guide to Measuring and Judging Big Game is a solid reference book, one I refer to a lot.


It has good tips and advice for: 1) how to field-judge a buck better than you ever have on the hoof; and 2) how to rough score that rack reliably once you've shot a deer dead and have him back at the house.


There's info not only for whitetails and mule deer, but also for antelope, caribou, elk, bears…any big game animal you hunt. There’s even a chapter on judging and scoring a walrus skull if you ever do that :)


At $25, a bargain for your bookshelf.


Photo: Does Flying Around
April 19, 2013

Mark saw this somewhere on the Internet and sent it to me: Mike, I don't know what kind of trail cam that is, but I want one! Look at the clarity of that picture! What do you think?

Well, I don't know of any cam with a shutter speed that fast, so don't really know what's up with that pic. Cool-looking though.


Maryland Monster Bow Buck, 194 5/8!
April 17, 2013




In September of 2010, Maryland bowhunter Luke Muldoon shot a double drop-tine monster that we had on the blog. Last November Luke killed this giant, which is another incredible achievement but, as I see it, the second best part of the story. Here’s the best part. Luke followed this buck around for 5 years, documenting the deer’s growth and maturity with a hand camera and trail cams as he scouted and hunted. Fascinating! A tremendous effort and great hunting, way to go man. 


The buck first came around in late November of 2008. He was easy to differentiate from other deer because of the white circles around his eyes. That first year I saw him, I thought he was a 1.5 year old; he had a small, basket rack. I saw him pretty often, but didn’t think much of it.

The next year, I saw the deer in the summer and throughout the 2009-10 hunting season. That December I began bringing a camera with me when I scouted and hunted. I managed to get the first pictures of this buck (sorry for quality, these were transferred from my old CPU). Notice the buck’s white eye circles.


In spring of 2010, I looked for this deer's sheds. I saw him, but didn't find his antlers. That spring and summer, I focused on following the double-drop I shot that September. I put this buck in the back of my mind, and did see him a couple times. He was highly visible that year. I passed him several times and got some great pictures.


More pictures revealed that he broke his brow tine during the November 2010 rut.


I managed to find the buck's right antler in spring 2011.

During the spring and summer of 2011, I was definitely focusing a lot of attention on this buck. I would see him somewhat regularly, but I was surprised how much more reclusive he had become. I particularly noticed his isolated habits while observing his wariness to the trail camera and his annoyance to human intrusion. Here is his trail camera picture in September.

During the November 2011 rut, I saw the buck cruising several times but never took a shot. I had grown pretty attached to this deer. I also picked up a decent amount of trail camera pictures.


In January of 2012 the buck began frequenting an area of re-forestation with a group of other bucks. I let him walk a few times since I had already shot a 160” 10-point that I was after. I didn't want to kill 2 bucks of that size in the same year, since deer that big are extremely rare in this region. The only way I could effectively hunt the deer and get him in range was from makeshift ground blinds. I did manage to get some good pictures of him though.


I continued to do similar set-ups (without the bow) after the season so I could see when he shed. After he shed out, I did an all-day walk and ended up picking up his sheds late in the afternoon. I also found his other side from the year prior. He scored about 175 (assuming a 20 inch spread).

Last year, I managed to get some pictures of the buck in late May. I saw him several other times, but never could manage to get field pictures. He either came out too late or too far, and I didn't want to impede or pressure him too much.


I decided to set up a camera pretty tight to where he was coming out to eat, and managed only one picture initially. He had a beam-like piece of antler growing down his neck with all kind of points on it (a “back scratcher”), some junk on the bases, good brows and mass…he was just starting to put on tine length.

Later on in the summer, the buck offered up a couple more pictures. He was now noticeably an older deer who had made an incredible transformation. At first glimpse, it even appeared that his frame could have shrunk from the year prior.

After not hunting enough due to a new job and other obligations, I picked the buck up on a camera in early October. Out of velvet now, it was apparent he had quite a bit going on up top, and some sweet trash around his left base.

One day in November while approaching a camera to switch cards, I saw the buck tending a hot doe at around 2 p.m. I decided that the next morning I would set up downwind of the thicket he had her holed up in.

He came in behind the doe, although he definitely did not want to. The wind was perfect, but the buck still hesitated, even though he had a hot doe with him. She persisted on heading out of the thicket, and he reluctantly followed. That was the last mistake he ever made.

It’s been awesome watching him grow. He has 21 points on his 9-point frame, and he was without doubt the king of the woods for the past two years. His 161 5/8” frame plus 33 0/8” of trash make for a gross-score of 194 5/8.--Luke


Big Deer Video: Buck Core Areas
April 16, 2013

Many big bucks don’t roam very far during hunting season, as I point out here. For more video clips, go to the Big Deer Tactics page and check out our new Big Deer YouTube channel.


5mm Remington Magnum
April 15, 2013

Fresh off a successful coyote hunt last month in MT with our friend Luke Strommen (we saw and called to a bunch of critters and shot 3 for a special episode of Big Deer TV) Luke sent this photo that he dug out of his files:

Mike: My brother and I called in this fox off the river bottom a few years ago. I shot him with my Remington 5mm Magnum rimfire. Have you ever heard of that cartridge? Way ahead of its time. I still have the rifle and this beautiful pelt. Go Big Deer Predator Team!

I had heard of the 5mm, but I knew little about it. Some digging here revealed that the cartridge resembled a .22 WMR case necked-down to accept 5mm/.20 caliber bullets. It was introduced in 1970 in a pair of Remington bolt-action rifles (Models 591 and 592).

As Luke said, the cartridge was ahead of its time and for whatever reason, hunters did not embrace it. Those 5mm rifles were made for only 5 years. The 5mm has the dubious title of shortest lived cartridge introduced since the end of WW II.

I did learn also that the 5mm is not completely obsolete. Centurion Ordnance makes 30-grain jacketed hollow-point loads for hunters who might own one of those old Remington 5mm rifles (but this ammo is in short supply too).

Anybody ever owned, shot or hunted varmints with the 5mm?


Minnesota: Broken-Rack 'Lefty' Buck
April 12, 2013

Thanks to Mark Birtzer for today’s guest post. Amazing the cool and unusual things that happen in the deer woods:

Last November 8th during Southeast Minnesota's shotgun season, I started the day on one of my favorite stands: just inside the woods near a field corner, at the top of a steep coulee. Our hunting area consists of only 2 things: level crop fields, and wooded gullies that are so steep only a mountain goat could love them, but that tough terrain holds some really good bucks. Plus, 4 years of state-mandated Antler Point Restrictions have paid off in even more mature bucks being sighted every year.

The wind that morning was forecast to be OK for my stand, but eventually it would switch to a bad direction. I decided to start the day there and to move at midday. About 10:00, after seeing several smaller deer earlier, a respectable 8-point appeared on the main trail, heading right for a lane where I knew he would cross at under 30 yards. I got ready, but before he emerged, he turned a 180 like he'd hit a wall and trotted back from where he'd come. I felt a wisp of breeze on the back of my neck. The wind had switched early!

I knew there was no point staying in that stand, so I got down and started a slow still hunt through the bottom of the gully toward a spot deeper into the property than I usually go. I was mostly in exploration mode, feeling like I had blown my chance at a buck that day.

As I moved along the gully, the sun was shining on the steep hillside above me to the right. I caught a bright flash and spotted a big antler. I could see his body and had all of 1 or 2 seconds to turn to my right, find him in the scope, and get off a shot before he would slip into some thick cedars. When I fired, his hindquarters collapsed and he started stumbling down the hill with his front legs churning. A spine shot! I got one more shot off before he went down and disappeared behind some brush.

As I approached the buck I saw that his right antler was broken off! Though I would not have hesitated to shoot him even if I had known he was a half-rack, there was still a strange set of emotions. I think mostly I just wanted to know what the other side of the rack looked like. He was by far my biggest buck, a great old bruiser that dressed out at 210 pounds. He gave me and my son, Clint, an epic workout as we dragged him up out of that gully while my dad went to get the truck. The 3 generations of us enjoying that experience together was one of the best things about the day.

If the story ended here, it would be great, but there is one more twist. One day 5 months later, just this April, we hit the property for some shed hunting. After a good number of miles without any luck, we were walking one last field edge about 200 yards from the stand where I had started the day back in November when I killed my buck. My brother-in-law spotted bone on the ground. He picked it up and started yelling in excitement. A big shed? No, it was the missing antler off my buck! I had walked within 20 yards of it several times during late season last year. What luck! The missing side has 6 points and completes the rack, for a total of 11 points with an inside spread of 21 1/2 inches.

We had kept the cape off my buck with the intention of pairing it with a 10-point rack from my grandfather's first deer that he shot over 60 years ago. We thought that would be a cool way to create a special family heirloom that would commemorate all of the intergenerational togetherness we've enjoyed while hunting whitetails.

But now, I might not be able to pass up the opportunity to mount and display my reconstructed "Lefty Buck" as he looked in his prime!--Mark


36 Bucks Dead from EHD
April 11, 2013

From my friend Mark Drury: Bitter sweet shed hunt (the other) weekend…we found some awesome Dream Sheds but EHD took some 36 bucks off of the (property).  Here are just a few of them.

2012 will go down as one of the worst years for hemorrhagic disease (mostly strains of a virus known as epizootic hemorrhagic disease or EHD, but which also includes the closely related blue tongue virus).  

Have you found any dead bucks while you’re out knocking around the woods, looking for sheds or turkeys?


New York: Biggest Buck of 2012!
April 10, 2013



Like many of us Dick Sheflin grew up in the “if it’s brown it’s down” days, and that is not a bad thing. A new hunter needs to kill some bucks, regardless of rack size, early and get his hands dirty so he or she will experience the thrill of the hunt, be hungry for more and hooked for life.

In this article Dick said, “Over the last 10 years, my sons have been pushing me to let younger bucks go if I wanted a big one…I finally started listening to them.”

And that is part of a hunter’s maturation, too, because the longer you hunt and the more deer you shoot over the years, the more patience you come to have, hence you can let the little bucks walk.

For his patience, Dick was rewarded in a big way last fall when he saw and shot an 18-pointer in Livingston Co. that scored 195 5/8. What a giant, beautiful!

BTW, I am going to hunt and film for the first time in New York this November, up in the Adirondacks, looking forward to that.


Will Hunters Boycott Colorado?
April 9, 2013

I was the first to see this coming.

From USA Today: COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Hunters across the country say they are boycotting Colorado because of recent legislation meant to curtail gun violence.

I appeared on the NRA News Cam and Co. TV show on Sportsman Channel 3 weeks ago, and the topic of Colorado came up. The Governor had just signed 4 gun-control bills that severely impact our 2A rights. I’m paraphrasing here because I do not have a transcript of the show, but I told Cam and the audience:

“Hunters are a powerful economic force in this country, pumping more than $22 billion into the economy each year and supporting a million jobs…hunters are a sleeping giant…I think we will respond to restrictive gun laws like this…I think you’ll see many hunters not visiting Colorado this fall…there are a lot of other states that have good elk and mule deer hunting, and that support the Second Amendment…”

Well, it’s happening. There are reports that hunters are cancelling DIY trips on Colorado public land, and outfitters are reporting cancellations. How much money will the state lose? We’ll know more by next spring, but I bet it will be significant.

Sadly, the people who will be hurt the most are not the urbanites in Denver or Boulder. The very pro-hunting and pro-gun folks in the rural areas of Colorado--the shopkeepers, hoteliers, bar owners,  outfitters and guides--will suffer this fall and lose a big portion of their annual income. I hate that, but it is time we step up and say enough is enough. Like I said during that TV interview there are many more places to hunt elk and deer and spend our money, and those other states are friendly to gun owners/hunters. Montana, South Dakota, Idaho…they want our business!

Legal weed, onerous guns laws…what has happened to beautiful and game-rich Colorado?

Question: Would you boycott a state (and not spend your money there) over onerous new gun laws?



Virginia: Sussex County Palmated Buck!
April 8, 2013

I saw this amazing buck on the Virginia Whitetails Facebook page. It was shot near Grizzard (love that name) in Sussex Co., down in the Tidewater of southeastern VA, a few hours from where I live.

I have posted a few palmated bucks over the years, but this giant takes the cake, just awesome--plus, the fact that it’s a homegrown Old Dominion buck makes it all the sweeter.

Almost unbelievably, a week later on that same Facebook page this picture popped up: Slade Jones had found a couple of sheds, including one that surely came off the palmated giant a couple of years ago. Either that or there are multiple palmated bucks running around the swamps of Sussex Co.!

I hope the hunter who shot the palmated buck will see this and get in touch with me, I’d love to get the whole story. The buck is shown hanging over a dog box, so they might have gotten him on a dog hunt.

Man, I gotta get down to Sussex and hunt. The other shed Slade is holding is no slouch.


Double-Deer Mount: Do You Like It?
April 5, 2013

First I’ve seen of a mount like this. Do you dig it? I’m not sure I do, though that’s a good-looking buck (old and thick, and a nice taxidermy job). I suppose that if the person shot one of the deer and then stayed on stand and shot the other one the same day (legal in many states if you’ve got the proper tags) that would be a way to preserve the memory. Or maybe the buck came by dogging the doe, and the hunter dropped them both with a couple of shots on a once in a lifetime hunt?

Anyway, do you like the double mount, would you do it?


781-Pound Wild Boar!
April 4, 2013

As I told you in this post last month I am really into wild hogs for some reason right now, so when this picture popped up on my Facebook I got intrigued:

…a Turkish wild boar weighing in at 781 lbs. I'm sure one of these things could do damage if it got a hold of you! 

Immediately people started questioning the hog’s veracity: the guy is sitting way behind it, that’s why it looks so big…Turkish hogs only get to 200 pounds or so…it’s a Russian boar, but they top out at 600…

I have no idea, but look at the boar’s front hoof—it’s bigger than the guy’s head and body! I’m sure the pig is real, but something is fishy. Want do you think?


Second Amendment Under Attack!
April 3, 2013

Most gun owners/deer hunters know that our 2A rights are under attack as never before, but in recent weeks I have sensed some complacency amongst us. We cannot do that! The gun-grabbing politicians thrive on our non-action as they try and ram through their radical agenda. We must stay vigilant!

These 2 things I saw today ought to get your attention.

Washington Times: 

A group of congressional Democrats has signed on to new legislation that would mandate liability insurance for all gun owners in the United States — and fine those who refuse to purchase it as much as $10,000.

CBS New York:

In addition to creating a new registry for high-capacity magazines and an expansion of the Connecticut assault weapons ban, Connecticut lawmakers also agreed to create a so-called eligibility certificate, where legitimate gun owners would submit to fingerprinting, a firearms training course, and a nationwide background check before you could purchase a gun or ammunition.

Could you ever have imagined that in America, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens would have to buy insurance to own a 9mm to protect your home, or a .270 to use for deer hunting? Could you have thought it possible that you might need an “eligibility card” to buy a box of rounds for your handgun, or 130-grain loads or slugs for your deer gun?

Well, it’s happening people! Write your state legislators, join the NRA if you’re not a member, get involved. Tell your friends and family members to do the same. We have to fight the good fight!


Missouri: Picked-Up Rack Scores 270-Plus!
April 2, 2013

From the Missouri Dept. of Conservation:

On the evening of Wednesday, March 13, an antler shed hunter discovered a large, near-record set of non-typical antlers while searching the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles.

Preliminary reports say the rack has 37 points and scores in the 270s. The buck was likely 5 ½ to 6 1/2. It will be one of the top 5 NT bucks ever grown in Missouri.

Nobody knows for sure what killed the buck last summer/fall, but it’s safe to assume he was another victim of the big EHD outbreak of 2012.

BTW, the shed hunter gets to keep the rack that he found on state land, but a paper he was issued states he cannot sell it for profit.


BIG DEER Predator Hunt
April 1, 2013

Last week I flew into still snowy Montana and hunted coyotes with my buddies Luke and Reed (second and third from left in picture), and with Jesse (standing) and Lance manning the cameras. We had a blast and shot 3 on film for a special show I’m putting together on the coyote/whitetail dynamic.

How many deer do coyotes kill? Do they eat adult deer as well as fawns? How might the predators affect your deer hunting in the future? Those are things we’ll discuss in the show, with the information weaved around this hunt.     

It was fun and invigorating hunting. We drove out onto the plains in the dark, got the wind right, and with the huge full moon hanging in the sky, hiked a mile or more to calling spots. We snuck up onto hill vantages that overlooked huge valleys, set up and called for 30-45 minutes per sit. Reed, a hard-core coyote hunter and expert in this country, did most of the calling. He blew some mouth calls, but mostly used a Foxpro device. A mix of coyote howls, barks and yips and rabbit in distress calls worked best.   

The hiking was most fun in the mornings, when the ground was frozen and the temperature was in the teens. As the day wore on and the intense spring sun rose, the snow melted and it got muddy, real muddy. Those long hikes with gumbo mud caked on our boots got tougher and dirtier. But it was darn good cardio!

Long story short, Reed called at least 10 predators that would come in to 500-800 yards and look and listen to the calls, interested. They would circle toward the downwind, and then sit or lie down. The predators are fascinating animals, and we recorded and documented cool behavior.

One dog came in close and unseen, and popped up 30 yards below us as we scanned the plains 500 yards out.  We were able to kill him with 2 quick shots before he got away. Reed and Luke made fine 250-yard shots on the other two, and Jesse and Lance laid down some great footage.

Some guy saw this photo and asked: “That’s a lot of people and cameras you’re trying to hide in that open country…how did you kill any coyotes at all?” He’s right, but we pulled it off.

I hadn’t done a full-blown coyote hunt in a few years, and I had a blast. I believe you’ll really enjoy this episode of BIG DEER TV in the fall, only on Sportsman Channel.



Wisconsin: Todd “Don’t Miss” Vis Buck, 190 1/8!
March 29, 2013

Last October we posted the exclusive story of this double-beamed bow giant out of Wisconsin. Many thanks to Bryan Rush for turning us on to this buck, which was shot by his buddy Todd “Don’t Miss” Vis.

Bryan sent more pictures of Todd and his awesome archery buck, which took second place at the Wisconsin Deer Classic. The rack was measured by a B&C-certified taxidermist and tallied 190 1/8 gross. Bryan and Todd had rough-measured the rack at the time of kill, and they came up with 188. Good job guys.  

If you read the original post, you’ll see that Todd made a great hunting move when he first saw this giant. I write about that smart move in an issue of Bowhunting World magazine, out later this summer.

Bryan tells me that both he and Todd are big fans of the BIG DEER blog. Appreciate that men!


Michigan Albino Deer
March 28, 2013

This photo was taken last week near Iron River.

I don’t know what’s cooler, the white deer or the VW bus. Wonder what year that thing is?


The X-Ray Buck (aka Arrowhead Buck)
March 27, 2013

This is the week of bucks with holes in their heads.

A few years ago in Maryland Jonathan Leith dropped this 8-pointer. The 2 1/2-year-old buck wasn't big enough for a shoulder mount, so he decided to saw the skull into a European mount.

Look what he found!

Sunk just below the right eye socket and into the honey-combed nasal sinus area was a piece of an XX75 aluminum arrow with a 3-blade broadhead. I figure that arrow was fired into buck sometime the year before because Jon told a newspaper guy: “There was no physical evidence that the deer had an arrow in it. The skin wasn’t broken, there was no pus pocket. The eye appeared to be normal.”

Somehow the buck had broken off the arrow, healed and, miraculously, had no problem breathing, seeing and feeding.

BTW, who took the X-Ray is unclear, but it’s a cool shot.

Anyway, all these holes in the head have jogged my memory. One morning long ago I took a buddy out to my VA lease and put him in a tree stand. I returned for him at 10:00 AM and he said, "I shot one, but I think I hit him in the head."

"How did you do that," I hollered. He shrugged. We looked for 4 hours but never found blood.

A week later I bumped into a guy who hunts about a half-mile from that stand. "Damnedest thing, 2 days ago I shot an 8-pointer with an arrow sticking out the back of his skull. The deer looked weak, but he was getting around pretty good. Know anybody who shoots a 3-blade Muzzy?"

"No," I lied and walked away. But I am glad he killed that buck.


Hole-in-the-Skull Buck
March 26, 2013

From Matthew in Kansas, who sends us lots of cool stuff (thanks man!):

Three years ago I found the left shed of a buck I called “10-10.” The shed had a pretty good chunk of skull plate attached to the back edge. Fast forward to last season. I shot the buck with a rifle and took him to (a guy) to cape him for me.

As he was caping, his knife poked into the skull behind the left beam. Once we cut the skull cap off the head, there was a mass of soft connective tissue and puss in the brain cavity . There was some puss on the outside of the skull too. Once the mass was removed, I could stick the knife clean through a hole (below) in the skull that measured about 1/4 x 1/8 inch. Due to the color difference in the bone surrounding the hole, I believe it had been larger at one time, but had filled in some.


It looks to me like the hole was caused by the chunk of skull pulled off during shedding. Whether it was the antler with the attached piece of skull I have from 3 years ago, or if another larger piece of skull got pulled off last year (didn’t find that shed) I don't know.

Either way, there's been a hole through that skull for either one or two years with an infection (in the brain cavity). Thought I'd share since I've never heard of a deer living that long with a hole in its skull.



Alberta HandleBars Muley Buck
March 25, 2013

From boone-crockett.org:

Justin Eckert… watched this mule deer buck during summer scouting sprout his new antler set, until the buck contracted an unknown disease (or was injured) that almost finished him. Somehow this buck made a full recovery to a healthy body weight, but not before the ordeal took its toll (on the rack).

Yeah, he ended up growing one of the coolest racks I’ve seen from 2012. Handle Bars! And see how he didn’t lose the velvet on right side? Man, gonna be a killer mount.


Huge Georgia Rattlesnake!
March 22, 2013

If you have been on the blog for long you know 2 things: I am obsessed with someday killing a drop-tine buck…and I am deathly afraid of snakes, any snake, garter to rattler. I shiver just writing it.

Well, David Syfert, who has been on BIG DEER for years, saw this picture on Facebook and decided to post it on my wall to freak me out. Thanks, man :)

Supposedly the evil serpent is from the Georgia woods. Somebody pointed out that the rattlers looked funny and fake. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know this: If I were out hunting and ran into that thing, my heart would explode. I mean, literally, explode. No more blog, no more TV show, no more Hanback. Done.

Reminds me, we were down in South Texas (bad rattlesnake country) hunting and filming this past January. It was warming up, and everywhere we went people would say, “Watch it, snakes are gonna be out.” One guy told me, “I’ve only killed 3 so far this year,” like it was no big deal. I had my snake boots on and my snake antenna high, but still I was edgy as hell, and everybody knew it.

Buddies Sarge and Miller pulled the first prank. At the first ranch we hunted, Sarge hid his kid’s green rubber snake in my Yeti. I opened the cooler one night, reached in, almost touched the thing and went flying through the air, cussing and hyperventilating, knocking stuff over. Sarge thought that was real funny, and Miller about busted a gut laughing from his hiding spot.

A week later at another ranch, Danny Dodge, the lead videographer for BIG DEER TV, wanted to do some close-up filming of a rattlesnake, maybe poke him and film him striking the camera. Fine, you’re on your own I told him. For days he looked in the rocks and under mesquite bushes, hunting a snake. One day at lunch, he came back from one of his snake hunts, snuck up behind me and rattled box of rocks by my leg. I jumped and flipped around, and he stuck a belt in my face and shook it wildly and hissed. I about fell off the porch and ran like hell, panting and heaving. Sarge and everybody standing around thought that was hilarious.

Sarge and Miller, I can see. But Danny? I thought you were a good guy, but I underestimated you my friend. To all 3 of you: Paybacks are hell boys.

To everybody else, watch out for snakes this weekend. And if you do see one, smash or shoot its head off for me.



New Jersey 13-Point Buck: Drop or Not?
March 21, 2013


Joe from New Jersey says:


Mike: Here is the 13-pointer that I took last season. I have been hunting NJ for 30 years and this is the second biggest deer I have taken. Does it qualify as a drop tine or double drop???—Joe


Great buck man, but I can’t give you either one. That’s the left main beam tipping down; and the sticker shooting straight out is cool, but not a drop.


Whitetail Science: Unicorn Buck Skull!
March 20, 2013

Hope you’ve been following our recent string of unicorn buck posts, I believe we’re compiling the most/best info on this unusual topic. 

Thanks to Wren for this most recent photo from Texas:

Mike, this skull was found by a neighbor close to where Jake Steen shot his unicorn buck (scroll down below). Thought the skull would really help folks understand this phenomenon.

Yes, it shows the growth as well as I’ve seen it. Scientists say a unicorn tine is caused by trauma to the front facial bone, such as (and most likely I reckon) a tine puncture from another buck. Most of the unicorn tines I’ve seen (in pictures, never seen one in the wild) sprout from the bone area as shown in this picture to a bit higher up toward the skull.


Muzzleloader Powder: Blackhorn 209
March 19, 2013

Last fall the guys down at Clark Brothers gun shop recommended I try Blackhorn 209 loads in my new Thompson Center Triumph. Designed for 209 primer in-line rifles, it’s a high-performance propellant that delivers accurate loads with superior velocity and energy. Plus, in this test, it blew away the competition as far as igniting in damp or wet weather.

Another big thing, Blackhorn is a low-residue powder that burns hotter and cleaner than Pyrodex, Triple 7 and others. It is supposedly so clean that you can shoot some 22 to 40 shots at the range all morning without wiping the bore once, and still shoot accurate groups. I don’t know about the 20 shots, or all morning, but in the limited test-shooting I have done so far with the loose grain powder (6 to 10 shots each session), Blackhorn has been amazingly clean. Saboted bullets have been easy to push down the barrel, plus my TC has been fast and easy to clean at the end of the day.


I did run into a major problem last fall: availability, or lack thereof, of Blackhorn. As I was flying into Illinois last December for the gun season (you can’t carry any muzzleloader propellant in checked airline baggage) I asked buddies I was hunting with to pick me up a canister of Blackhorn. Figured it would be no big deal. But they hit all the major gun shops and retailers in western Kentucky and southern Illinois within a 75-mile radius of our camp but could not find one canister of Blackhorn. Since my TC was sighted tight with that powder and I didn’t want to change propellants midstream, I switched to a slug gun for the hunt (and killed a weird buck that you’ll see on TV this fall).


So in my experience, availability can be an issue with Blackhorn. If you’re hunting around home and have a supply, no big deal. If you’re traveling, plan well ahead and make sure you have a can of Blackhorn in camp when you get there.


Anybody shot Blackhorn and have more to add? Bigger picture, how many of you hunt with a muzzleloader these days? Seems you don’t hear about muzzleloader hunting as much as you did even 5 years ago.


Minnesota/Wisconsin River Bucks
March 18, 2013

Got this awhile back from Jon, who hunts on the river in both Minnesota and Wisconsin:

Attached are a few pictures of bucks that were killed last year in the area I hunt. Three 160-plus bucks were all shot within 500 yards of our lease in Goodue Co. (Minn.). The 170-incher we called Zilla (above) was a buck we had been watching for a while. My brother in law Jake had him at less than 30 yards on Nov. 1st, but wasn't able to get a shot at him. I think if he knew it was a 170" he would have emptied his quiver at it! Don’t feel bad Jake at least you got to see him!

The second pic (below) is my stepdad’s buck that he shot Nov. 2nd in Buffalo County. He left work at 11:30, was in the tree by 2:00 and saw 6 deer, including this one. He shot it at 3:00!

The last picture (below) is our neighbor to the North in Buffalo County. I had gotten a trail cam pick of this buck and had named him Droopy, only to find out 2 days later that he was shot by Ron our neighbor! I was excited to see him get one.

One important thing we noticed last year—a medium drought year in this area--is the whitetail’s need for water. We put out some 30-gallon tubs and filled them with water, and at first the deer didn't hit them that much. But toward the end of October they drank them dry! I kept loading a 50-gallon drum of water onto my 4-wheeler and filling one tub. During the rut the bucks were really hitting it! If you don't have water on your property, get it any way you can.




Hunter Bounces Arrow Off Huge Unicorn Buck’s Shoulder
March 16, 2013

Rare as they are, we’ve got unicorn bucks coming out the woodwork; look close and you’ll see the uni cutting up inside the left beam:

Mike: Saw the blog this morning. Here is a pic of a buck we named "Unibrow" from our cameras two seasons ago. He has a third beam coming out his forehead. My brother-in-law had him at 15 yards, got excited and bounced an arrow off his shoulder blade. He's still out there, as far as we know, but we haven't seen him again.—Mark

I told Mark to tell his brother-in-law no harm, no foul, we all miss with our bows. But tell him he had in fact missed a 1 in 4,000 buck.

Mark wrote back, “Yeah, he’s still sick about it.”


Texas 2012 Unicorn Buck!
March 15, 2013

Our buddy Wren (thanks man!) saw our post on unicorn bucks this morning and sent these pictures. This uni was shot just last December by Jake Steen on his family's ranch in Texas. Wren reports that on early trail-camera photos of this buck, the velvet on the unicorn was so white that for a time they thought it might be a broken-off tine stuck in a cinus cavity. But it turned out to be a true uni.

I'm sure jake and everybody has wondered how rare his buck is. Well, as scientist Hellickson, says at least i in 4,000 rare. And with that cool white face coloration and the sticker on the unicorn tine, I'd say 1 in a million!

Note the buck's main left side is shorter and funked up. As Hellickson pointed out, the unicorn growth was caused by an injury to the frontal skull area, so I'm sure that injury also caused those other deformities.


Unicorn Buck Deer
March 15, 2013

A fellow sent this photo and wondered if it was BS or legit. Well, this is either a hoax (tine stuck on deer's nose) or a unicorn. How common or rare is a unicorn buck? Is it possible a tine could grow out of the buck's forehead?

Short answer, yes, tines can and do grow there. Mickey Hellickson, one of the top whitetail scientists in the world, says: 

It is caused by trauma to the frontal bone. This entire region of the skull is capable of growing antler, and if an area of the frontal bone is injured (such as a tine puncture from another buck) the trauma may cause an antler to grow from the injury.  Interestingly, researchers have even experimentally caused antlers to grow from the frontal bone by grafting antler tissue to this area. 

How rare is a unicorn buck? Mick says of his Texas study days: We never captured one in the wild despite capturing more than 4,000 different antlered bucks, so a unicorn is at least as rare as one in 4,000!

I assume that you, like me, have never seen or shot a uni, but if you have by all means tell us about it.


Kansas: Double-Drop Monster Buck, 178 6/8
March 14, 2013

My dream buck, double drops on a massive main-frame 8. Michael Morgan shot the giant with his bow last Nov. 6 on leased land in Kansas. North American Whitetail has the story.

Man, what a beast. My obsession for a dropper hasn’t waned, but has only gotten stronger, though I fear I’ll never get one.  


Hunting Pack Review: Timber Hawk Rut Buster
March 13, 2013

I used the Timber Hawk Rut Buster all over the country last fall and was impressed. One of the best daypacks for deer hunting I’ve ever used. Mid-size (not bulky but plenty of space), durable, comfortable, lightweight and quiet. Easy to stalk with or haul up in a tree stand and hang nearby.

Some features I like:

  • ·        2 small low front pockets, one perfect for my rangefinder.
  • ·        Small, fleece-lined top slot on back of pack for smartphone.
  • ·        Deep main compartment for Scent Killer bottle, spotting scope, etc.
  • ·        Several small inner pockets and slots for flashlight, grunt calls, etc.
  • ·        Deep and accessible/adjustable rear pouch for spare coat, rattle horns, etc.
  • ·        2 low rear water bottle slots

Top-quality pack and worth the $105, it will last you for years of hard hunting.



BIG DEER TV Helps Maryland Bowhunter Shoot Biggest Buck
March 12, 2013



Hi Mike: I shot this deer in Calvert County, Maryland one evening last October. It is the biggest buck I have killed to date, and to get it with the bow makes it more special.


I shot him on a 25-acre parcel that I lease from a friend of mine. He came in around 6 pm, walking right down a trail toward me. He turned slightly behind some cover at 10 yards and I drew my bow. Right before I got ready to release the arrow he looked up and busted me! Not sure if he heard me or saw my movement, but he took off across the creek and stopped on the other side, perfectly broadside, next to a tree that I earlier had ranged at 40 yards. He looked back to investigate what was up in that tree I guess. I had not let my bow down yet, and was able to put a great shot on him. He took off and ran about 100 yards through the woods before he crashed. I backed out and came back an hour later with my 15 year old son and tracked him. What a great feeling to put my hands on him, with my son there.


I know that watching shows like yours have helped me become a better hunter with the way I scout, the way I look at property and the wind, place my stands, etc. Stuff like that has helped me tremendously.—Thanks, Tony



Ohio: Long-Tined Bow Buck, 166”
March 11, 2013


Kyle Danflous, whose son, Devin, shot a 200-class giant with a 20-gauge shotgun in 2011, tells us about the big buck he killed with his bow last fall:

Hey Mike: On the morning of Oct. 20th I slipped into my blind around 6:45, a good 45 minutes before legal shooting time here in Ohio. It was rainy with a good overcast, so conditions were actually favorable. I hadn’t seen a thing until this guy came in at 7:45. I’m certain he was cruising for does. He came by in a light prance, and when he neared bow range I gave a soft grunt. He stopped at 15 yards, and I released the arrow. I knew I made a good shot, because I saw the arrow hit him behind the shoulder, toward his vitals. However, he didn’t go down and left me with little blood to follow, and that faded within 100 yards because of the rain. Turns out, he ran 600 yards and finally fell in the middle of a cow pasture. The buck caused me a lot of worry, doubt and 4 hours of tracking, but it was worth every second. I scored him at 166 gross and 160 6/8 net. Thanks, Kyle

 Beautiful buck, great frame, tine length and brows, nice job Kyle.


Turkey Gobbler Toilet
March 9, 2013

I saw this on Facebook. Cool or weird? Or both?


RARE Trail-Cam Photo: Florida Panther!
March 8, 2013

Look what longtime BIG DEER blogger Vinnie got on one of his cameras:

Here is something you don’t get on your trail cam every day…a FL panther! I wish I would have got his or her head in the picture though. Very, very rare. Odds on getting one on camera, especially in daytime? Just doesn’t happen very often.

Rare is an understatement, I’d say astronomical. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 there were but an estimated 100 to 160 Florida panthers living in the wild.


New Jersey Public-Land Buck
March 7, 2013


Longtime blogger Jeff Herrmann filed this recap of his 2012 season:

I do not have access to private land here in New Jersey, so I am limited to hunting public land. If that were not challenging enough, I decided to limit my hunting to a compound or crossbow last season to take advantage of opportunities where gun hunting would not be allowed.

The season started off well with several decent bucks on my cams. When I say “decent bucks” I am referring to public-land bucks in NJ which are hunted for 6 months a year. On the public properties few bucks live past 2.5 years old; average rack scores often top out in the 100” range.

I hunted 2 to 4 days a week throughout September and into October. I was running 6 trail cams, moving them regularly to cover prime travel routes across 400 acres. By mid-October I still had not located a single mature buck, or one that would score above 110”. Nevertheless, I stuck with my plans.

I made another camera move on a Sunday afternoon. I took the next Wednesday off to hunt, and checked the camera early that morning. As I approached the cam I heard deer running off, and was greeted with the unmistakable stench of mature buck. Sure enough the cam confirmed I had located a “shooter”. By that afternoon I had my stand in place.

He did not show that evening, or for the next several days. I was determined to catch him on his morning travels, but never saw him. One morning I checked the cam and was disappointed to find that he had already passed by at 5 am.

I hung with it, and on a Sunday morning I pressed my luck, knowing I only had a small window to connect before his pattern was likely to change with the rut coming on. He walked in an hour after the sun rose. I shot him at 25 yds broadside. He is my best NJ buck to date. I believe he is 4.5 years old, and I am having that confirmed via tooth aging. He scored in the 120s, has an 8 point frame and an extra 3” beam growing out the left side of his skull.

As if I had not worked hard enough to harvest this buck, after he was down I had to single- handedly pull him 3/4 of a mile out of the woods. It was all absolutely worth it. To me, nothing is more satisfying than taking a mature buck, all by myself, on heavily hunted public land.—Jeff

Jeff, great hunting and persistence, that’s how ya do it. Way to go man.


Kansas: Monster Buck Dead from EHD
March 6, 2013

From the Buckmasters Facebook page:

Buckmasters and the BTR announce the biggest buck of 2012! We verified this is a wild, free-roaming buck and not an escapee from a deer farm. Unfortunately, it was the victim of EHD and found by someone in Kansas who wishes to remain anonymous, recovered with an official salvage tag.



Virginia: Amy’s First Buck
March 5, 2013

Thanks to longtime blogger Cody for this report:

Mike: My brother and I started hunting years ago with my dad and a few other family members. I live for it. I still get as excited now when I kill or even see deer as I did when I first started. I go every chance I get.

My sister Amy, 26, didn't have any interest in hunting until a couple years ago, even though we had tried to get her to go when she was younger. She killed 2 does on drives a couple years ago, and was hooked. My dad got Amy her own rifle for Christmas a year ago, so she was more than ready for the 2012 deer season. 

Opening day she passed on a few really small bucks because she "didn't want to shoot a baby." We went the following Monday to the same buddy stand but didn't see much that morning. That afternoon we decided to put her in a ladder stand in a different area, and I'd use my climbing stand in a nearby tree so I’d still be able to give her some guidance. It's quite a hike to that stand with a climber on your back and it had gotten windy so I wasn't real enthused, but figured it was worth a try.

We only saw one deer that afternoon, a pretty 6 point. I grunted some and he looked, but kept moving away from us. I told Amy to stay ready because the buck was probably going downwind to check for scents. Maybe 10 minutes later he was back, about 90 yards out feeding broadside. I told her to shoot if she wanted to whenever she had a clear shot.

I was trying to watch through binoculars, but was shaking so badly it was making me sick. She stayed calm and took the shot, a high shoulder shot. The buck ran 60 yards, farther than he should have.

I think I was more excited about Amy’s deer than any buck I've ever killed. It was a great first buck for her, a clean kill, and an exciting hunt. I don't think anyone could have asked for more.—Cody

Cool story with 2 messages:

Hunt with people you love and respect while you can…cherish those moments. And two, there are a lot of 20- and 30-something guys and gals out there who, for whatever reason, didn’t get to hunt much or at all as kids, but they are interested and want to try it now. Take an older kid, show him or her how it’s done and turn them into a deer hunter for life.


Win Hanback’s Remington Model 700 .30-06
March 4, 2013

One month till the deadline to win this Model 700 CDL .30-06 that I hunted with on TV last fall. Comes sighted-in and topped with the Trijicon Accupoint 3X-9X scope you see in the picture. Brand new rifle, with a few light scratches and dings to the walnut from travel and carrying it around the woods for a few months. Go to our Model 700 microsite, click on contest and enter.  Below are a couple of cool bucks I killed on BIG DEER TV with this rifle.



4-Year-Old Kid Finds Biggest Shed Yet
March 1, 2013

Longtime blogger Necbone sent this:

Hey Mike, shed season here in southern Illinois is in full swing. My little boy and I had a pretty successful weekend. Briar, who is just 4, found his first shed of the year. It's not the first one he’s ever found, but definitely his biggest. Keep up the good work Mike.

Way to Briar…dig those binoculars buddy!


Miss.: New Record Bow Buck, 173 2/8!
February 28, 2013

Kevin Medlin didn’t have time to think about such things as rewriting Mississippi’s archery record book when a monster buck walked out of a thicket 50 yards from his stand on Nov. 11 in DeSoto County.

“I didn’t even have time to get nervous,” Medlin said. “It all happened so fast. I guess from the time I saw him to the time I watched him crash down in a thicket wasn’t much more than a minute, if it was that long. It all happened that quick.”

Read the full story here.



Louisiana: Health Officials Destroy 1,600 Pounds of Venison
February 27, 2013

From Fox News.com:

Hunters across Louisiana are outraged after state health officials ordered a rescue mission to destroy $8,000 worth of deer meat because venison is not allowed to be served in homeless shelters.

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” said a Health Dept. official in an email to Fox News. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

A potentially serious health threat? The operator of the mission, a man named Henry Martin, said that this was 1,600 pounds of perfectly good, fresh, protein-rich venison. It should be noted that Mr. Martin is as exasperated as hunters are over this petty and bull---t government intrusion.

To add insult to injury, the health officials ordered the mission staff to throw all the meat in garbage bins and then douse it with Clorox so animals (rats, coons, etc.) would not eat it and become sick or die. “This is a process called ‘denaturing,’” the health officials said.

I am not making this up.

Insult to injury #2: “They meant to destroy the meat – that’s for sure,” the mission’s chef said. The chef asked if he could at least return the meat to the processing plant, but the state officials said no.

If this could happen in the southern Sportsman’s Paradise, what about New York, Cali, etc.? It could undermine Hunters for the Hungry as we know it.

I leave you with this: This fiasco started when one person being fed at the rescue mission (which receives NO government funds and depends solely on the donations of good people) complained about being fed deer meat. So what should they feed, filet? IMO this has zero to do with health, it’s just another example of how the entitlement mentality is seeping into all facets of our lives.


Indiana: Man Fells Giant Buck w/ Single-Shot .44 Mag
February 26, 2013

Thanks to Dean Weimer for this report.

Thirty-seven year-old Indiana hunter Robert “Bob” Jones was very busy in the early archery and firearms season last year, and he wanted to hunt all-day at least once during gun season to make up for lost time. The owner of a home inspection company and also a construction business, Bob doesn’t get to hunt as much as he did earlier in his deer hunting career.

He thought about it and decided that he would hunt all-day on Friday, November 30, 2012. “I wanted to sit out all day before the weekend when everyone would be out,” he says.

Bob set out to one of his favorite stands on the edge of an in-woods swamp. With the drought conditions of 2012 the swamp was without water, but he was set up next to a 12-15 acre thicket where deer loved to bed.  Since the swamp was dry the deer would travel across it as opposed to traversing around it like they normally would. This should work out in Bob’s favor.

Bob settled in and watched a lone doe come out about 7:30 a.m. He did some calling, and she hung around awhile. Around 8:45 he noticed movement to his right---a buck!—and things happened quickly. The buck was about 60 yards away, on the edge of the swamp. Bob raised his H.R. .44 mag. single-shot, found the buck in his scope and fired.

“The whole thing lasted maybe 15 seconds,” he says.  “I knew it was a big buck, but I thought it was just a big 8-pointer with lots of mass.” It wasn’t until he walked up, on the huge mainframe 9, that he realized he had a bit more than that.

“When I got up to the deer I saw it had the split brow and junk sticking out everywhere,” he says. “People talk about ground shrinkage…this deer did not shrink, it grew,” he says

Although the buck has not been officially measured, it has a 180-class 5X4 frame and will end up tallying in the high 160s to low 170s after deductions, and after subtracting the non-typical growth.

“I had a couple buddies come to the woods where I shot him. I never moved him until I got photos where he dropped. I was so happy; I’ve hunted all my life for a buck like this,” Bob says enthusiastically.





WI & KS: 2 Pope & Young Bucks in a Week
February 25, 2013

Mike, I enjoy following your blog and seeing the success stories from around the nation. I thought I would share a pretty amazing week I had last fall.

On November 4th I harvested a very symmetrical 12-point (above) with my bow in Wisconsin, my home state. This old buck had its eye gored out from fighting. I traditionally have not had opportunities at mature bucks in my area of WI, so I hunt the rut in Kansas. On November 7 I left to hunt some land I own in Kansas, and I harvested another great buck (below) on November 8th.

Both bucks green-scored 158. I made very good shots on both deer and had the fortune to watch both of them go down. Great feeling on any size animal. Thanks and good hunting, Mike Wolf

What a week, 2 mature Pope & Young bucks! Great job Mike.


“This is why we do this…”
February 25, 2013

Mike, I've been watching your show for years now and I have to admit...I thought it was a bit cheesy when you would regularly end a kill, in the heat of the moment, saying, "That’s why we do this," or your tag line of "hunt hard." But now let me commend you for what you have done for my hunting

I was always a whitetail guy who grew up hunting in New York with my dad and uncles. It eventually grew to dove, ducks, geese and most recently my first elk hunt. My previous deer hunting experiences were great... but never involved a "Hunt Hard" attitude. It was always something I did with my family because it brought us together and that's why we did this.

I got back from my first elk hunt in Steamboat Springs and the one thing I will take away from this hunt (even though I did not get to harvest an animal) is your motto of Hunt Hard. I hiked for miles day after day just for the chance to see one of the majestic creatures in their natural aspen forests. I never knew what hunting really involved until I was pushed to my physical and mental limits day in and day out at high altitude and cold. It was then, getting rained on and shivering under some big pine tree, that I smiled and finally got the message.

I appreciate everything you do for this great sport and showing young guys like me... that there is a lot more to enjoying this world than tourist traps, monuments and the whirlwind of daily life. I now know why we do this... and I promise you every hunt will be hunted hard.-- Dann


Hunters “do this” for a lot of different reasons, I’m just glad to be able to help you out in some small way.—M.H.


Trijicon Accupoint Scopes for Deer Hunting
February 22, 2013

I'm going on my third year hunting with Trijicon Accupoint scopes, and the optics just keep performing better for me. In deer camps from Canada to Texas, hunters peer through my Accupoint and inevitably say, "Man, that's crisp and bright, and love the illuminated dot. I gotta get me one of those." They definitely are tremendous scopes. Check out this promo video we shot for Trijicon that points out the top features of the Accupoint.


How Much for a Buck Shoulder Mount?
February 21, 2013

Several people have asked recently how much they should pay for shoulder mount…$300, 400, $700, $1,000 or more? Prices have definitely gone up, and they vary across the country. $300 is on the low side, and $1,000 is surely high, though I have paid that much and then some for some of my best Canadian bucks.

Let’s take a survey: What is the going rate for a good taxidermy job in your area?


Remington: Take a Stand Now
February 21, 2013

From our partner Remington:

For nearly 200 years, Remington Arms has been at the side of the American hunter and shooter as well as our nation’s great military personnel and law enforcement officers. As the discussion of gun control and firearms ownership continues to play out on televisions, at water coolers and in living rooms around the country, important facts are being left out and the voices of some 100 million gun owners silenced. Visit www.takeastandnow.com and make your voice heard today!

I personally ask that every one of you BIG DEER bloggers click on that page and send letters to your legislators. As law-abiding gun owners and deer hunters, there has never been a more important time for us to do so.



Virginia: 2012 Blackpowder Buck With Mass!
January 24, 2013

The best hunting in the VA Piedmont and Mountains occurs during the muzzleloader season the first 2 weeks of November. Many bucks are bonkers, either chasing or trailing does. Wayne Mills is an accomplished hunter who takes full advantage. Awhile back we profiled Wayne’s 2008 drop-tine giant. Here’s the story of the monster he killed on the same lease on Election Day last fall:

Mike: Two hunt club members saw this buck chasing does on 11/03, opening day of Virginia muzzleloader season. I took a doe on Saturday, so I had earned a buck according to club rules.

I couldn't hunt on 11/5, but took off Tuesday morning, planning to vote around noon. I took along my decoy "Bucky" and set him 30 yards away along a right-of-way through a pine planting. I grunted every 10 minutes or so and saw several small bucks and a couple of does.

Around 8:00, I saw a doe being followed by a heavy-racked buck. She crossed the right-of-way 125 yards out, but he disappeared in the pines. A minute later I saw a rack coming out of the pines, but it was a basket-rack 8-point. He hit the right-of- way and I grunted, thinking he might be the big deer’s wingman. He stopped, saw Bucky and walked 100 yards straight to the decoy!

He stopped 20 yards away and just stared at it. I took almost 4 minutes of video with my phone as he stared off with the decoy. His body English was comical. He was about the same size as the decoy, and he probably had never a buck his size stand his ground. I think he came too close and didn't know what to do.

After 5 minutes, I saw another rack moving in the pines, and immediately knew he was a shooter. At 80 yards, I could see the stickers on his G-2s and the palmation on the G-3s. No need for binoculars. He stopped as he approached the right-of-way and then cautiously took a few more steps. I had the crosshairs on his chest but kept saying to myself, "Wait till he turns.”

He took a few more steps, saw the small buck, stared for a few seconds and started to move closer into the open. Then he saw Bucky and seemed to say, "No, not on my turf!" He pinned his ears back and walked sideways into the open. At 60 yards I took the shot, slightly quartering to me. The buck put his tail up and ran back into the pines, as if I had missed. I waited 10 minutes and kept going over the shot in my head. I couldn't have missed such an easy shot with a scoped muzzleloader!

I went to where he was standing and walked to a cedar tree he had run around, but couldn't find blood. Searching and lining up the tree with the blind, I continued up the only trail he could have taken. After 5 minutes and no blood I started to think maybe I did miss. I walked another 10 feet,  looked down and saw a drop of blood on a blade of grass…looked up ahead, another patch of blood and another…25 feet later there he lay! I had hit one lung, clipped another and tore up his liver. This is the second buck I have shot with a muzzleloader that didn't bleed until he had gone 50+ yards.

He is a main-frame 9 with 15 scorable points…stickers on both G-2s…heavy palmation on his right G-3 and left G-4. Very symmetrical except for the 5" G-3 on the left side and the crab claw on the right beam. Lots of character. Field dressed 175lbs. I donated the meat to Hunters for the Hungry and he will feed a lot of needy people.

He is at Wes' Antler Ridge Taxidermy in Amissville right now. Don't know how he will score after the rack dries, but he is another great buck I've been blessed with.—Wayne

Masive buck, great story, more proof that the early-November blackpowder season here in VA is as good as it gets.


Wolf with a Bow!
January 23, 2013

This from the Wind River Outdoor World FB page: awful difficult to take a wolf with a bow!

Boy I'll say, first picture I've ever seen of a bowhunter w/wolf. Don't know who or where, but hell of an accomplishment. Beautiful animal too.


2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show Mired in Second Amendment Controversy
January 22, 2013

“The Harrisburg (PA) Show” has long been quite the event, with tens of thousands of hunters, shooters, fishermen, boaters, etc. coming from up and down the East Coast (and across America) to buy stuff, book hunting trips and vacations, gawk at the giant buck mounts, attend seminars, meet celebrities, enjoy cooking displays and just have a jolly good time for a week in early February. I have attended the show as both a seminar speaker and a consumer, and I always enjoyed it.

But things are not so jolly this year, and I won't be going. On the eve of the 2013 show, the event’s organizer, Reed Exhibitions, decided to ban the display and sale of Modern Sporting Rifles and high-capacity magazines. From the show’s website:

As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport. Clearly, we strongly support the 2nd Amendment. However, this year we have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests.

A growing number of sportsman and small retailers began to voice their disapproval, and their intent to not attend this year’s show. Then on Saturday Cabela’s posted on Facebook:

Due to recent changes made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Cabela’s will no longer sponsor this year’s event. After careful consideration regarding Cabela’s business practices, and the feelings of our customers, Cabela’s will, unfortunately, not have a presence at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

Last I checked the Cabela's page, more than 13,000 followers, including me, have “liked” this status. Full disclosure, I am a pro-staff member for Cabela’s and proud of it.

And yesterday, Trijicon decided to withdraw its participation and support of this year’s show. Full disclosure, Trijicon is Big Deer TV’s exclusive riflescope sponsor. Also, many of the top-name TV personalities who were going there to give seminars and hawk stuff are jumping ship.

It will be interesting to see how many other companies/sponsors pull out, and if attendance is significantly down…or if Reed Exhibitions reverses this policy last-minute before the show opens?

What do you think of this mess? Have you ever attended the Harrisburg show? Will you go this year?


Element of Surprise: Huge Indiana Bow Buck
January 21, 2013

Mike, I got over 30 trail cam pictures of this buck throughout the summer, but those pics were all at night. So after not seeing him feeding on our family farm during the first week of bow season, I decided to change things up. Fortunately I had permission to hunt a property across the road. My hope was that I could catch him crossing that property during shooting light on his way to my land.

I took my climber and set up about 15 yards off a lane that connected two corn fields. The wind was perfect, and I figured the element of surprise would be in my favor. Sure enough, on October 10, he walked down the lane at 10 minutes till 7, and I arrowed him at 13 yards. Love the show, keep the good footage coming our way.—Thanks, Shawn Brinkman

I’ve said it many times on the blog and on TV—slip around, hunt different and fresh little funnels and bottlenecks, get the element of surprise on a big buck that is tough to kill. Shawn’s post is the perfect example of that, great hunting man.


Monster Virginia Bear!
January 17, 2013
From Alex in VA:

“Hey Mike, not a big buck picture, but a HUGE bear for Virginia! Thought you might appreciate it since it was killed in VA. 674 lbs., killed by DJ Lacks in Lunenburg County, VA on 12/11/12. Love your blog and show!”

I figure the guy on the left is 6 foot, look how much bigger the bear is!


NRA Membership Booms by 250,000
January 15, 2013

From usnews.com: A day before President Barack Obama is scheduled to release Vice President Joe Biden's recommendations to curb gun violence in the United States, the National Rifle Association told U.S. News and World Report that they have seen membership grow by 250,000 in the month since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

"I would say that every time President Obama opens his mouth and Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein opens her mouth and they talk about gun bans and restricting the rights of law abiding Americans, people pay attention to that and sign up," says Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's public affairs director.

I worked for the NRA for a decade and am a Life Member. Are you a member? We need you now. Click here to join.



Florida Big-Nose Deer!
January 15, 2013

Mike: I hunt in North Florida and I have a cam picture of a whitetail doe with a large snout. I cannot find a lot of info on this subject except that it is believed to be a bacterial infection (that causes the nose swelling). Is the meat safe to eat? Does the deer need to be taken out of the herd? Thanks, Marcus

I have posted on this weird topic several times; BIG DEER is amassing the best Internet database on big-nose deer. Here’s the best biological info we have to date, from Kevin Keel, a wildlife pathologist at at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia:

Mike: I have a series of these cases from all over the country. The lesion that he photographed is most likely chronic inflammation due to a bacterial infection. To my knowledge I’m the only one that has worked on these cases and I have about ten of them now from Georgia to Idaho. SCWDS has been working with deer diseases since 1957 and has examined many thousands of deer over the years. However, we have only received submissions of deer like this in the last seven years. I’m not certain what is going on but I’m anxious to get as much information about such cases as possible, even if tissues are no longer available.--Thanks, Kevin Keel

To answer Marcus’ questions, second one first: No, since it’s apparently a bacterial infection, I don’t think it’s necessary to cull the big-nose doe from the herd. But to be on the cautious side, I would not eat the meat.

You run across something strange like a big-nose buck in the woods let us know, we'll get to the bottom of it, or try to.


Iowa Bow Giant, 178 6/8 Net!
January 14, 2013

Thanks to Mike from Iowa for this great guest blog:

On November 2, I drove to the new farm with my wife and spent the weekend hunting the small chunk of ground that our little cabin sits on. The previous hunting season had produced very few deer sightings, and over the course of the summer we hadn't gotten pictures of any bucks that I considered shooters. My confidence in this farm was low, but after doing a lot of TSI work and improving all the food plots over the off season, I had high hopes that things would change for the better.

I am still trying to work things out on this property, and I bumped several deer on the way in to my stand Friday night. Before the evening was over I had passed on a very nice buck--and I was kind of second guessing myself. That night I decided to leave everything in the stand so I could just slip in quietly the next morning.

The wind was right and it worked like a charm. I was settled in the stand plenty early, and I had some serious quiet time with God. I truly enjoy that peaceful time before sunrise. Just after legal shooting light I heard crunching behind me, straight downwind. I turned to look and immediately grabbed my bow and hooked up my release.

This guy was already at 30 yards in the open, but a couple of large limbs from the tree I was in blocked the shot. My first thought was to wait for him to move from behind the limbs; then it crossed my mind that anything could happen and I needed to get my shot off. I leaned way back and tried to clear a large limb, but couldn’t. I squatted, leaned way out, settled my pin and let her fly.

I was shooting for 30, but the deer was actually at 25. He may have jumped the string as well...either way, my shot was high. As he bolted, the arrow appeared to fall out with poor penetration. I immediately nocked another arrow and was ready for a follow-up shot if he stopped. When his tail started to cork screw I thought "dead deer," but mind you I had seen the arrow fall away. I started looking for room to squeeze another one. The buck moved slightly and gave me a tiny opening I would never have considered shooting through otherwise.

Before I knew it, the second arrow was away, a clean pass thru this time. As the deer hustled off I saw what looked like two mortal wounds. I thought I heard a crash, and I started sending text messages. After a few minutes I located horns with my binos and the emotions swept over me. I knew he would be my best deer to date, and as soon as I walked up on him I knew he was a net Boone and Crockett buck.

On my way out to get my camera girl from the cabin, I walked up on 3 bucks in the upper food plot. I have changed my mind about the new property being a low percentage spot! A little TSI and quality plotting turned this place around in a hurry, and I see many years of pleasure ahead for our clan here at our cabin farm.

The buck scored 183 2/8" gross, and 178 6/8" net. Longest beam 27 6/8"; longest tine 12 4/8"; inside spread 20 6/8".—Thanks, Mike from Iowa

Beautiful buck and fully mature, look at that warrior's old face and big body. Way to go Mike! l


Maine: Another Hurricane Sandy 200-lb. Buck!
January 10, 2013
John Rogers sent me this on our Mike Hanback—BIG DEER Facebook page:

“Another Hurricane Sandy buck. Killed Monday in Maine. Dressed 208 lbs. (my) third 200-plus buck in a row.”

In Maine, it’s more about a buck’s maturity and body weight than it is about antlers, with 200-lbs. (dressed) being the benchmark, though I point out that John’s buck has a killer rack and brow tines for a North Woods buck. Great job buddy!

The fact that this buck was kill during the East Coast super storm of 2012 is more impressive yet.

Come to find out that when I hunted in Maine in November 2011, I was very close to John’s camp where he shot this giant. He said, “If you’re ever up this way again tell the boys to bring you over for a cold drink and some Big Deer BS.”

I’m gonna take him up on that.


Trail-Cam: Doe Deer Boxing for Dominance
January 9, 2013
From Zach:

Mike, had to share this pic with you! I have my camera set on a two minute timer between shots, so it's pretty awesome that I caught the deer in this stance when I did!

Cool man, great shot. See how the other deer have their necks stretched and are watching the “cat fight,” very typical and interesting.


You Tube: Carrying Deer to Processor on a Bike!
January 8, 2013
You need to watch this clip to the end, it really is amazing stamina and balance by that guy. Michigan, 2012, 2 mile trip to the butcher!

You never know what you’ll see these days.


New Jersey: 10-year-old Boy Smokes First Buck
January 7, 2013
Great story from Joe in NJ:

Hi Mike: My son, Luke, got his bow for Christmas last year and practiced with it all year. He took and passed his bowhunter’s education course in October. Unfortunately he had to wait until his 10th birthday to get his "official" hunting license (one of those laws that I never understood).

Luke was very excited to start hunting and we went as much as possible in the few weeks since his birthday. He had a great encounter with a 9-pointer and a 7-pointer, but he was not able to get a shot within his 15-yard effective range. After a few more hunts he was able to get a shot at a 7 pointer. Unfortunately the hit was very high. We followed very little blood for over 300 yards. We are confident we will see that deer again.

Luke was not discouraged and wanted to get back out there. We set up in our favorite spot on a Tuesday. It was not long before we saw a small buck and 5 does in a field about 120 yards from us. Ten minutes later Luke asked me, "What is that noise?" I looked in the field and saw 2 nice bucks sparring. Then 2 more bucks appeared. There was a spike, two 8-pointers and the 9-pointer, and they were walking right to us! I told Luke to get ready.

The 9-pointer was the first one in, and he stopped at 10 yards, quartering away. Luke drew his bow (and the attention of the deer, as seen in the picture of the deer looking up at us!). He aimed for a bit and released...and made a perfect pass-through shot! The deer ran 50 yards, stumbled and fell over. Not bad for a 35-pound bow!

You could hear us both a mile away. The picture I sent you is the moment he found his deer. You can see the pure excitement in his face. BTW, a lot of that is missing on today’s TV shows.

This might be the biggest deer he gets for some time. He would have been happy with a doe, but he is very excited about his trophy buck. Carl Osterlund of All-Game Taxidermy has offered to mount this deer on the house for Luke. We are very grateful, and I think Luke owes him a few hours in the shop.

As a side note, I was able to take an awesome 13 pointer on the opening day of our muzzleloader season. But I am much more excited about Luke’s first bow kill. Thanks for the great blog Mike.—Joe

Awesome story, way to go Luke, proud of you buddy! Cool you guys got a picture of that buck before you whacked him!


You Tube: Buck Attacks Dead Buck!
January 4, 2013 David sent me this link and asked what I thought of it.

First, I’ve seen a lot of live turkeys attack dead gobblers on the ground, but I have never seen a buck do it. I attribute it to the craziness of the rut—testosterone-addled bucks do weird and unexplainable things. This attacking buck is also an especially aggressive young deer (I believe bucks have “personalities” like people do; some are bold and aggressive, others more passive).

Second, those guys took the encounter way too flippantly. This was not a joking matter. At any minute that wild and rut-crazed buck could have pounced and attacked with lowered rack and flailing hooves. As fired-up as that deer was, it could have been bloody or even fatal.

I believe the right thing to do in that situation would have been to back off, hide behind trees and watch and enjoy the show…the attacker would have eventually gotten bored and walked off, as he eventually did, with not much damage to the dead buck.

What would you have done?


Late-Season VA Buck
January 3, 2013
Mike, I have attached a picture of an eight pointer that I took on December 20th in Amherst County, Virginia with my .50 cal Knight muzzleloader. He stepped out of a thicket to feed in some red oaks right around 12:15. Just wanted to show that there still are some big ones out there late season! Best regards, Brad Carner

Love this VA buck and love Brad’s message. December and January hunting is tough, man, no matter where you hunt. Stick with it and hunt long and hard like Brad did if your season is still on. Brad shot his buck at 12:15, you would not have anticipated that in December, but ya never know.


Rifle Review: Remington’s New Model 783 Bolt-Action
January 2, 2013

Huge news for 2013 is Remington’s introduction of the Model 783 bolt-action, a rifle that in my opinion is destined to become one of America’s most popular new deer-hunting rifles. 

Built in Mayfield, KY, the 783 has a cylindrical receiver and a premium contour button-rifled barrel (22 inches most models, 24 inches for 7mm Mag.); designed for strength and rigidity, the barrel is attached to the receiver with a barrel nut system. Stock is black synthetic and pillar-bedded; the free-floated barrel enhances accuracy. This rifle doesn’t have the classy, straight-line appearance of the iconic Remington Model 700 CDL, my favorite deer rifle. But the clean, modern and functional look of the 783 ain’t bad.

Other top features: The butt-stock of the 783 wears Remington’s great SuperCell Recoil pad. The detachable, well-fitted magazine is made of strong metal. The trigger is set at 3 ½ pounds and easily adjustable.

The Model 783 is priced at $451 MSRP. It is chambered for 4 top deer cartridges: .270. .30-06, .308 and 7mm Rem. Mag.

I was one of the first hunters to get to shoot the Model 783 in the testing phase last fall. Remington’s John Fink brought a .30-06 model, topped with my scope of choice Trijicon Accupoint 3X-9X, up to Saskatchewan. We hit the range for a very brief field test. It was freezing, in the teens, and the wind chill was single digits. Plus, we needed to get in the woods and kill some bucks. I clicked 2 Remington Hypersonic 150-grain loads (new bonded ammo that we’ll talk about in another post) into the magazine, bolted up and took aim off the bench. In the cold and wind, with a rifle and trigger I had never used before, I shot a ½-inch group at 100 yards (see picture) which astonished everyone who was there, and mostly me. Then John took the 783 out into the bush and, 3 days later and killed an 11-point giant with it. The FIRST DEER EVER killed with the Model 783. You’ll see that hunt on a brand-new episode of BIG DEER TV on Sportsman Channel this fall.

If a new deer rifle is one of your resolutions in 2013, you need to take a serious look at the Model 783. I look forward to shooting it again (hopefully at a buck) next week in Texas.


Iowa: “Mr. Perfect” 10-Point Buck
December 28, 2012

This from my buddy Tim Young, who killed a huge buck January 2011. Look at the monster he shot this season:

All I can say is what a Christmas present! This is a buck I named Mr. Perfect. We saw him last year, but decided to pass and let him grow. I picked his sheds up in March so I knew he had made it through the last season and winter. When he showed back up in July, boy was I glad we let him walk!!! Once we started running the Reconyx cams, I figured out he was a homeboy and was living on the farm. We had a few encounters with him earlier in the season with no shots. Going into gun season I was just hoping he would survive and he did. Tonight it all came together and he couldn't resist the standing beans!—Tim

What a buck, that rack is just about perfect!







Wisconsin: 197 2/8” Typical Bow Buck Should Be Fond du Lac County Record
December 25, 2012

Dusty Gerrits tweeted a picture of his giant bow buck, and I tweeted him back, asking for the details:

Hi Mike: I rec'd a tweet from you asking for info for your blog, here are the basics.

I shot this buck on Tuesday morning, Nov. 6, near Waupun, WI. The buck many hunters called "The Alto Ghost" or "Big Surprise" had not shown himself this year on our property until the morning I harvested him. Our gang had trail cam pictures of him last year, but none this year. But the neighbors, and many other locals, had several pics of him this year. I have attached a photo a fellow hunter gave me that lives about a mile away from us as the crow flies.

That morning I was actually hunting a different buck we call "Tiny"; we had pictures of Tiny on a scrape the morning before, so I set up there. Tiny is an upper-140s to 150ish 10 point that has lived on our property for the last 3 years. This year we decided to take him if we had the opportunity.

I had a couple smaller bucks show up at first light, but not Tiny. Then to my surprise, Big Surprise showed up to bump a small 8 point that was working the scrape in front of me.  Big Surprise kept pushing the small 8 around, but he wouldn't give me a shot. I was able to draw back once, but had to let off. Luckily, he came around again, and I was able to get a shot off. He took off, and I heard a crash.

Of course then the mind games set in. I wondered if it was actually a crash, or was I hearing things? I sat in my tree after the shot for about 45 minutes. I had to get down and investigate as rain was coming soon. I found blood and then, to my surprise, the Big Surprise. He only went about 50 yards!

The buck gross green scored 197 2/8 typical. Should be a Fond du Lac County record for typical bow, and has an outside chance for state. Thanks, Dusty

Wow, what a buck, another amazing WI giant. Congrats Dusty!





Merry BIG DEER Christmas
December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all bloggers new and old. Thanks for your amazing support of this site and my TV show on Sportsman Channel.

Hard to believe, but BIG DEER BLOG will be 5 years old in January; the new and improved site redesign will be live soon to correspond with our 5-year anniversity.

If you're traveling this week, be safe. If you're still hunting, shoot a big one.

Your friend and hunting brother, Mike Hanback

PS: Check out the tree's top ornament, maybe'll I get him in 2013.





200-Inch Wisconsin Typical Bucks!
December 20, 2012

The stunning year of monster Wisconsin bucks continues. Top one one scores 202 green; Field and Stream has the story.

Several people have sent me the buck below, with few details. I understand it is also posted on boone-crockett.org and word is around 209.    


Ohio: Great Hunting for a Gnarly Old Bow Buck
December 19, 2012

Hi Mike, thought I’d follow up with you about a buck you featured on “Trail Camera Tuesday” back on July 31st (pic below). I had several pictures of this buck working a Trophy Rock in June, July, and August, but didn’t get another picture of him until mid-October on another camera near a pinch point.  I was blessed to have several nice bucks on my farm this year, and even more blessed to have harvested this one.

November 17. I decided to get up really early because I had bumped deer under the stand a couple of times the previous week. I left the house at 3:30, picked up my buddy Matt, and we headed to the farm. The plan worked, as we heard one deer walking along the hillside above us, but we did not spook any deer on the way in.  I was set up on a finger coming off a ridge top with a NE wind blowing my scent over top of the valley below.  I have a ½-acre turnip/rape/radish food plot on the ridge top about 200 yards away, and I was hunting a trail leading from that plot down across the finger.

At 8:45, a 125-inch 8-pointer came in behind me, picked up the trail and headed up toward the ridge top.  A little while later a basket 8 crossed the finger behind me.  About 9:45 I saw this buck about 70 yards away, heading up the finger toward the ridge top.  I knew right away it was a shooter and grabbed my grunt call.

He was above me so I waited until he got behind some brush and let out a long grunt. He stared my way for what seemed like an eternity.  He finally looked away and I let out another grunt.  I did this two or three more times until he finally decided he had to check it out.  He came down the ridge and hit the trail just two yards in front of my shooting lane.  In my haste to put my grunt call away, hook my release, stand up, and draw without being detected, I did not push my glasses up my nose, which led me to struggle to get a good sight picture through my peep.  After a less than perfect first shot, I was able to adjust my glasses and double-lung him on the second shot. I watched him crash less than 50 yards from the stand. 

My best buck to date and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks and keep up the good work.  Let me know if you ever want to do a hunt in Southern Ohio.--Ron Pritchard

Very cool when you scout/watch an old buck for 5 months and then get him with a bow, way to Ron. Great gnarly 8 with a big frame, long tines and cool, funky-tipped beams! Fine hunting too. Note the 2 passages I’ve highlighted in bold, you can learn from those for next season. What a tremendous setup on a ridge finger, and perfect grunting technique; often it takes 2 or more long, loud grunts to get a buck to turn and commit.

Hard-core hunting here, what BIG DEER is all about. And I might take Ron up on his offer to hunt Ohio, never hunted there before but need to. That is some cool-looking river country.


Delaware Public-Land Monster Buck
December 18, 2012

The email I got said: Mike, another public land giant taken in Delaware during early shotgun season on November 13th. Deer was taken at White Clay Creek State Park. No official score, maybe you can post it as "what do you think it would score?"

Well, what do we think it will score?


Oklahoma: Ancient, Nocturnal Buck 182 1/8”!
December 17, 2012

Oklahoma hunter and longtime Big Deer blogger Greg Brownlee shot this 187 4/8” monster in 2011. Greg followed it up last month with his second 180” giant in two years:

Mike: Thought I'd let you know that I shot another big buck (I'm starting to think I'm the luckiest deer hunter in the world). I was out with a friend, trying to get him his first deer and watching does, when the big boy I have been after for 4 years stepped out. I honestly thought he was dead because I didn't get a photo of him all year, but he's as big as he ever was. I don't know exactly how old he was yet, but he was big in 2008 when I first got pictures of him, and his sheds in 2009 (see picture) have 6" bases. So I honestly believe he was 8 or 9 years old at least. His teeth are completely smooth after about the 2nd molar.

I have over 400 trail cam photos of this deer since 2008, but they were taken only during the even years of 2008 and 2010. It's strange how I never got a photo during the odd years (2009 or 2011); I think he was living north of me about a mile and a half on a small block of timber that my cousin owns, and where the sheds were found in 2009.

Going into this season, having not gotten a photo of him since 2010 and having NEVER seen him, I figured the buck was dead. Still, I kept hope that he'd show up and I got lucky on that Tuesday night. That was the FIRST time I had ever seen him in the daylight. Of those 400 cam photos, I only had one daylight photo of him back in 2010, and it was at 3:45 pm on November 13. The rut killed this deer; I'm assuming he was completely nocturnal otherwise.

He grosses 182 1/8". He's only a main-frame 8, but that frame alone taped a little over 167". Got the entire thing on film too which was great, and he was taken on my family’s property. I don't know how many 3 and 4 year old deer I've passed in the previous 8 or 9 years, but that plan of passing the deer has paid off big 2 years in a row now.—Thanks, Greg

Awesome buck man, and one of the coolest stories of the year.





Buck Steals Man's Cigarettes!
December 14, 2012 Nothing deer do anymore surprises me, story here. Have a good weekend.


What a Season: 5 Wisconsin Monster Bucks!
December 13, 2012

Thanks to blogger Jon for this report:

Hey Mike: Well, it has been another banner year for WI! I have attached 5 pictures of bucks that have been taken by family and friends of ours! The top picture (181 inches) was taken by my stepdads brother at our hunting land near Pleasantville, WI. 

This will be one of those bucks that will never be forgotten. We are fortunate enough that my stepdad owns a nice piece of private property that has a very cozy 30'x30' hunting cabin on it.  No running water, a wood burning stove for heat and a small generator to run the lights while we play cards at night. The cabin is located right in the center of the property, so we have always said that someday somebody was going to get a nice one from the porch.

It happened on Nov. 18th. Unfortuantely I was not at camp this year, but the story goes like this. It was around 11:00 am on Sunday morning and 6 of the hunters were back at camp resting their eyes and getting ready to head to the local tavern to watch the Packers play at noon.  A shot was fired from the neigboring property, but was very close. My stepbrother, who was sprawled out in bed, said, "Someone should get outside with a gun just in case." Nobody moved except for his uncle Roger, who stepped outside only a few feet from the front step.

It didn't take long before he saw this giant pop out from the corner of the pines and tool off across the field at about 100 yards. He turned and grabbed the only rifle close by, an old .30-06 with a 20-year-old Tasko scope that my stepbrother who was back from Portland was using. The only thing between him and the biggest buck of his life was about a dozen or so fully mature pine trees. As the buck ran by and cleared the trees he fired and the words coming from outside the cabin were, "HE'S GOING DOWN!!!!" Two bullets found their mark, one in the neck and one in the heart. 

To say the least everyone was very excited, pictures were taken, beverages were cracked and they still made it to the tavern for the Packers game. Its the biggest buck we have ever taken off that property by a long shot, by at least 40 inches! Its funny how much luck plays in this sport. You can sit all day for days on end and not see a shooter, and then one day a giant runs by the cabin! Unreal!--Jon

What a story, and what a year it's been in WI. Below are the other 4 bruisers that Jon's family and friends put down this year. Wow!





Giant Central VA 8-Pointer
December 12, 2012

Love posting VA bucks and this one is a beauty. Adam Shepherd killed this beast on Nov. 29 in Madison County, not far from where I live, with a .300 WSM. Inside spread 22 ½”; brow tines measure 9"; G-2s 11.5". Unofficially green scored at 152.

A 150-class 8 is a giant, way to go Adam.



200 Saskatchewan Typical Buck!
December 11, 2012

One of my sources in Canada sent me this giant, supposedly shot in SE Saskatchewan by a local hunter. Rumor is it could push the Hanson buck. Definitely a 200-class deer, 6x6, killer long beams and tines. Amazing.









UPDATE: An astute reader points us to the same buck that was posted at boone-crockett.org on Dec. 7:

Saskatchewan Pick up? No confirmed details on this rack yet. Obviously a pick up by the photo. Cannot confirm that it was shot by the individual in the picture (maybe late recovery), but appears to be tagged. 

Hearing this buck is from the Blaine Lake area in SK. Score rumors are lofty 210-217 range.
















Wisconsin: Main-Frame 8-Point Buck Gross Scores 201!
December 10, 2012

Some amazing bucks have been killed in Wisconsin this year, none more amazing than this one. The email I got said the rack scored 180 typical as a main-frame 8! 17" G-2s and the drop is 14". Supposedly shot near Ridgeway with a .270. Story is the hunter stuffed the huge-bodied buck in his Saturn and drove it to the check station.


New York: Huge 8-Point Buck from Long Island
December 7, 2012

Thanks to Fred Eder for this great guest blog:

I hadn't sat in this particular stand, located in eastern Long Island, since hurricane Sandy blasted through the area last month. On that last time, I missed this buck as he rushed through checking scrapes he had made around a dripper I had placed there. After that encounter I called him the “Mighty Oak.”

I refreshed the dripper and also hung some Tink’s #69 scent pads (tampons) before giving it another try. On this particular afternoon, it was like action park; my thoughts are that the lockdown period was just ending and the bucks were back on the prowl.

I was made by another big buck early on. He snuck up behind me, and I didn't see him until too late. However, he didn't spook off too far because he was with a doe, and she did not see me. He circled around in the brush, just always in the wrong spot for a shot, and then they moved off. I could hear them running around not far away. Then another smaller buck came through. And then I saw Mighty Oak; it appeared to me as though he was coming to kick the younger buck's butt.

I went to draw, either to fill my tag with the smaller one or to maybe get a shot at the giant. But the small buck heard me and took off, with Mighty Oak right behind him. I blew a gentle grunt to hide any disturbance I may have made. Fifteen minutes later I hear a BIG one coming from behind me...3 steps and a stomp…long pause…3 steps and a stomp... It must have taken him 20 minutes to get to a place where I could see him in the corner of my eye.

I figured the best plan was not to move, let him pass and take the shot as he went away from me. He continued that same walk-stomp routine and passed by at 5 yards, so close I could hear him breathing. I let him get about 15 yards out and drew my bow; he heard it, snorted and jumped! I had a small window and loosed the arrow--TWHACK! He took off in a big circle and I didn’t hear a crash, only running in the woods until everything was silent.

I waited in the stand for a half hour. It was dark when I checked for blood, and I found some. But I also found my arrow broken off, with about 8 inches missing. No blood on the piece I found. I silently backed out. I checked back around 10 pm, found some better blood but decided it would be best to leave him overnight.

I came back at first light and tracked him for about 300 yards, thanks to the Rage 2 blade. He bedded a few times and the trail went to a few drops sometimes, then kicked in again pretty good. He even bedded down and reversed on his own trail which took me some time to sort out. Finally I saw him piled up at about 50 yards and was impressed by the size of the antlers because I wasn't really focused on them when I was trying to shoot him.

As I walked up he jumped up and ran a short ways. I marked his location, backed out, watched him from a distance and then decided to go back and get my bow. I returned and found him still pretty lively where he had bedded last, and I put one into his motor at 30 yards to make it final.

I asked Fred about the twigs in his cap and the buck’s mouth:

My family is from Bavaria where hunting is a big tradition; European hunting traditions have been passed down for thousands of years. The "Shooter’s Break" (Schützenbruch) is a ceremonial sign of respect for the harvested animal and of the hunter’s success. It is the branch worn in the right side of the hunter's hat, and presented by first brushing the broken (never cut) twig of a nearby spruce, pine or fir tree, across the deer's wound. The branch is then presented to the hunter with a hand shake and a greeting of "Waidmannsheil" to which the successful hunter responds "Waidmannsdank". The shooter’s branch is worn for the remainder of the day/evening signifying a successful hunt. Usually followed by several toasts made by the successful hunter, with all others raising their glasses or flasks with their left hand while toasting "Waidmannsheil". Hunters always toast with their left hand because it is the closest to the heart.

Upon field dressing the game, which is always laid on its right side (because then the heart is closer to the sky) a similar branch as was placed in the hunter's hatband and referred to the "Last Bite" (Der Letzte Biss) is placed into the mouth of the harvested deer as a respectful offering bonding the animal's soul to that of the hunter.—Fred

Very cool story and great buck, way to go man.


Alberta: Massive Buck with Incredible Front Drop Tine!
December 6, 2012

A trusted friend from Canada texted this monster that was shot near Slave Lake, Alberta.

You know how I like drops... Well, this is the most amazing drop club you and I have ever seen! I think it's a drop, though it looks more like another beam. Looks like a caribou's shovel! Add the dark mass and long tines and stickers, and this is one of the most magnificent bucks I have ever seen.  

I have been to Alberta 3 times without killing a buck, but I will continue to go back. My failures seem to be traced to poor timing. They tell me that to kill an Alberta giant like this, you need to hunt the rut window of Nov. 12-15. Go earlier than that (like I did this year) and the big ones are almost totally secretive and nocturnal. And it's colder and snowier later. Anybody hunted Alberta? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. 



Oklahoma: Massive Buck Roadkill!
December 5, 2012

Some incredible giants are killed by cars all over this country. The email I got said this one was smashed in Oklahoma. Amazing mass, and look at those brows!


Breaking: Kansas Monster Buck, 270!
December 4, 2012

The long email string we got on this incredible giant said it was shot by Kevin last week in Kansas. Double beams and double drops and scores 270! Also people in the string went on to say, "much deserved buck for a great guy...fair chase...and that he shot it on video in rifle season."

You will be seeing and hearing a lot about this monster, and I'll keep digging for more details. Congrats Kevin, amazing!


Alberta Giant Buck: 220”!
December 4, 2012

From Bob: This is the biggest whitetail I've heard of that was killed in the Peace country. It was from Tangent, which is just a little south of Peace River. This deer is a beast!!! 220" is what I've heard. Thought you'd appreciate seeing the picture. It was forward to me from an iPhone, wish it were bigger.

There are some monsters in Alberta, but I've had a tough time killing one up there. Had pretty much a bust of a hunt in this same general country 3 weeks ago, but we did get a wolf on film, that was cool.



Ohio: Hunter Finds Huge Shed on Rabbit Hunt, Shoots Same Buck That Fall!
December 3, 2012
From Chad in Ohio:

I saw the “Best of Big Deer” episode on Sportsman Channel where you showed a big whitetail a hunter had shot, and he had found the buck’s shed from the year before. I had the same thing happen.

I was rabbit hunting in February and walked up on a big shed. I carried it the rest of the hunt and dreamed of someday shooting a buck like that. Well, on the last day of gun season in Ohio that year I was hunting the same land. I was walking back to my truck about 11:00 am to meet up with my buddy and get some lunch, when my friend kicked this 15-point monster, with a 6.5 inch drop tine, out of a small thicket. He came right to me and froze and I shot. I dropped the buck not more than 200 yards from where I had found his shed in February. I guess dreams do come true.

Amazing the stories we get on Big Deer! Why can’t I get my drop-tine like that!