Whitetail Hunting photo

How rare is a 200-inch buck? If we’re talking a net 200-incher, you can take heart in the fact that your odds of killing one are better than one in a million. In the 188 years since the Boone & Crockett (B&C) Club started keeping tabs, hunters have recorded a little more than 3,000 net 200-inch whitetails. That’s about 16 per year, on average—or about 1.6 for every million deer hunters who take to the woods each fall these days. If we’re talking a gross 200-incher, the number skyrockets to about 90 per year, or 9 for every million hunters. Still not exactly a high-odds proposition. But it can—and does—happen. Every year a few hardcore big-buck hunters chasing the trophy of a lifetime actually get it done, and a handful of casual deer hunters, out enjoying a nice fall morning and hoping to bag any deer, stumble into a world-beater of a buck.

According to Justin Spring, B&C records chairman, gross-200-inch entries from the 2017 season are slightly behind normal, but they’re still coming in. In the meantime, Spring helped me track down 15 hunters who joined the exclusive 200-inch club last fall—and who were willing to share their stories and photos, below. Their incredible bucks total more than 3,000 inches of antler.

Steven Everett

Buck #1: “Goliath”

Steve Everett took this wide-racked monster on the opener of Oklahoma’s rifle season.

Hunter: Steven Everett

State: Oklahoma

B&C Score: 255 gross, 245-7/8 net

Everett had a three-year history with this buck, which at this writing is the largest-grossing B&C non-typical overall for the 2017-2018 season. “I named the buck Goliath, and I hunted him very hard, but he was almost totally nocturnal,” Everett says. “I had only three encounters with the buck last fall. I really wanted to take him with my bow, and almost did; I had him at 60 yards, and then he got spooked by hogs. I finally got him on the opening day of rifle season. He’s the buck of a lifetime.” Everett’s huge whitetail has 28 scoreable points, a base circumference of 9 inches on one beam, and it now stands as the No. 2 all-time for Oklahoma nontypicals.”

Jacob Gipson

Buck #2: The Day-Two Dandy

Jacob Gipson shows off the massive, palmated rack of his 2017 200-incher.

Hunter: Jacob Gipson

State: Nebraska

B&C Score: 251-2/8 gross, 239-2/8 net

Opening day gets all the hoopla, but Gipson didn’t need any first-day magic to down this Cornhusker State monster. “I was hunting eastern Nebraska on the second day of the rifle season when this buck showed up,” Gipson says. The massive whitetail has 23 scoreable points and an inside spread of 20-⅜”. The right beam goes a little over 31, and the left is almost 30. “He was a blessing of a deer for me, and I’ll never see another like him in my lifetime.”

Dan Runnels

Buck #3: “Splitter”

Dan Runnels poses with his net 200-plus buck, Splitter.

Hunter: Dan Runnels

State: Iowa

B&C Score: 223-7/8 gross, 217 net

Runnels knew of a giant whitetail—a buck known as Splitter— in his area, and had planned to hunt for the deer on the morning of November 10. But the wind was wrong, so he went to work instead. Around noon, the forecast showed that the wind was about to switch, so Runnels bolted for the woods. “I reached my stand around 2:00 p.m., settled in, and was looking at my phone at about 2:40 when I caught movement to my left.”

The giant buck was only 20 yards away. “He walked right past me without a care in the world while I had my phone in my hands and my bow was hanging on the hook above me.” In one motion, Runnels stood up, slid his phone in a pocket, and grabbed his bow off the hook. “After fumbling with my release, I drew, settled the pin on him as he was entering my last shooting lane…and watched the nock disappear perfectly behind his shoulder.”

After word had spread, Runnels heard from a man that had Splitter’s sheds from 2016. “He gave me the sheds no questions asked. He said that they belonged to me to display with Splitter. I don’t know of many others who would have done that, and I’m very grateful. I haven’t scored the sheds yet but I am estimating that Splitter jumped over 60 inches from 2016 to 2017.”

bobbie Poynter

Buck #4: The 200-Inch “Doe”

Bobbie Poynter shows off his massive muzzleloader buck.

Hunter: Bobbie Poynter

State: Indiana

B&C score: 217-6/8 gross B&C, 207-5/8 net

Want a sure cure for buck fever? Simply believe that you’re shooting a doe. That’s what Poynter thought when he focused his crosshairs behind the shoulder of a big-bodied deer last December. “It was December 10, and my last day to hunt for the season,” he says. “I coach girls basketball at Carroll High School here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so getting time to deer hunt is tough. The 2017 season had been a slow one for me, as I’d had nothing in range during bow season, and not even a doe during the firearm season.”

Poynter had been given access to hunt a 5-acre woodlot by hunting buddy Chris Meyer for the blackpowder season, and the pair took stands a couple hundred yards apart. Meyer shot a doe just seconds before Poynter pulled the trigger on what he thought was also an antlerless deer. The pair recovered Meyer’s doe quickly, got it out of the woods, then returned to trail Poynter’s “doe” in the dark. “We had very good blood and went maybe 25 yards when Chris shined the flashlight up ahead and said, ‘There’s your deer. Bobbie, it looks like a buck.’ I thought I was shooting at a doe. Honestly if I had seen that huge rack, I more than likely would have been so nervous that I would have missed.”

Tyler Pietsch

Buck #5: The Local Legend

Tyler Pietsch and his gorgeous double-drop-tine trophy.

Hunter: Tyler Pietsch

State: Illinois

B&C Score: 217-5/8 gross, 205-7/8 net

Though Pietsch knew of a giant buck in his hunting area called “Double Drop,” he entertained no thoughts of killing the local celebrity. Between work and bad weather, his first sit wasn’t until the final morning of the first shotgun season. “I was in my stand long before first light, and at around 7:00 a.m. I saw movement only 30 yards away that quickly morphed into what was clearly a shooter buck. As he stepped into an opening, I sent a 20-gauge slug his way, and about the time I had him in the crosshairs again, he fell down after running 40 yards.” Pietsch waited about 20 minutes, then got down and walked towards the buck. “When I was about 10 yards away, I realized it was Double Drop.” Word spread fast that the local legend had fallen. “I can’t count the number of times I opened the tailgate that day so others could get a picture of him.”

Buck #6: The Plot Walker

Hunter: Carter Pate

State: Illinois

B&C Score: 215-4/8 gross, 205-6/8 net

Pate, a 20-year-old deer fanatic and sophomore at Southern Illinois University, first encountered this giant buck in the fall of 2016. “I saw him in a field one morning while scouting during muzzleloader season,” Pate says. “A few weeks later, he passed by one of my cameras just feet from my stand at 11 a.m., while I was in school. That spring, a farmer a few miles away found his sheds in perfect condition.”

When the 2017 season opened, Pate had no idea whether buck was still alive because no one had seen him, on camera or otherwise. “When bow season opened I hung a stand by a food plot I’d created where I’d first seen the buck. On the morning of October 28, I crawled into that stand and, sure enough, he came walking by me at 7 a.m. and gave me a 15-yard bow shot. He was a very healthy, muscular deer that we think was 6-1/2 years old and weighed 250 pounds. He had a total of 28 points.”

John Lummis

Buck #7: The Bucket Beast

John Lummis took this giant with a home-brew AR-15 in 6.5 Grendel.

Hunter: John Lummis

State: Missouri

B&C Score: 215-3/8 gross, 195-5/8

Lummis was hunting a 100-acre farm with only 30 acres of timber when he encountered this giant Show-Me State buck. “I was sitting on a 5-gallon bucket behind a forked oak tree in a patch of open woods next to an impenetrable bedding area when this animal decided to get up at 2:30 in the afternoon,” Lummis says. “He was raking his horns on saplings behind some brush, when he suddenly came out to survey the open woods. He stopped, I put the crosshairs on the appointed mark, squeezed the trigger, and off he went. I tracked him about 80 yards over a ridge and found him piled up in some fescue. It didn’t dawn on me how big the deer was until I tried to load it in my pickup myself. I am 6’5″, 250, and have always been able to load any deer by myself, but not this one. I shoved, pushed, heaved, and at the point of almost puking, I gave up! If someone had been surreptitiously videoing me, you would have seen it on social media.”

Thomas Mlsna

Buck #8: “Candy Man”

Thomas Mlsna poses with his super-wide net 200-incher.
Wisconsin buck
This Wisconsin giant is as heavy as he is wide. Thomas Mlsna

Hunter: Thomas Mlsna

State: Wisconsin

B&C Score: 213-6/8 gross, 205-6/8 net

Mlsna’s pursuit of a buck he’d nicknamed Candy Man lasted three seasons and included hundreds of trail-cam pics and numerous sheds. Mlsna finally caught up to the elusive buck on a September bowhunt when he carried a climbing stand into the timber and set up close to a bedding area he felt the buck was using. The guess was spot-on, and an early-season cool front had the giant buck on his feet well before dusk. But as the buck fed within bow range and Mlsna came to full draw, brush and trees forced the hunter to hold at full-draw for many long minutes. “I was just about to break down when he finally gave me a chance,” Mlsna says. “I refocused, buried the pin behind his shoulder, and made the shot. I actually blacked out for a second when I released.” The buck has 18 scoreable points and a 22-inch inside spread.

Steve England

Buck #9: The Show-Me Monster

Steve England shows off his Missouri brute.
Missouri buck on camera
A trail-camera shot of England’s buck. Steve England

Hunter: Steve England

State: Missouri

B&C score: 213-5/8 gross, 205-1/8 net

England was hunting Worth County, Missouri, in the fall of 2016 when he and his hunting partner started getting trail-cam pics of a giant buck. “We made several trips there to hunt but never saw the deer that year,” England recalls. They resumed their quest last fall, and quickly had the buck on camera again. “On the last day of our hunt, he finally appeared for the first time. He came in very cautiously and stood at just 10 yards, but he had me pinned. As he slowly turned to walk away, I had one chance before he’d reached the brush.” It was a sharp quartering shot, but England hit the buck right where he’d aimed. “We left him overnight and found him the next morning. It took all day to get him out.”

Michael Buzard's buck

Buck #10: The Big Surprise

Michael Buzard’s Keystone State stud.
Pennsylvania buck
An overhead view from the field. Michael Buzard

Hunter: Michael Buzard

State: Pennsylvania

B&C score: 212-4/8 gross, 198-1/8 net

When Buzard headed out for an afternoon hunt in Clarion County on October 25, he knew it was his last outing for a while. “I was scheduled for knee surgery the next day,” he says. “I had no idea this buck, or anything nearly this big, was around. I settled into my stand about 3:45 in the afternoon and shortly before 5:00 he was standing within 35 yards of me. I made a good shot with my Horton 175 crossbow, and the buck piled up within 25 yards.” Buzard’s giant took over 7th place in the state’s non-typical archery category.

Robert Malander with his crossbow record

Buck #11: The Cornhusker Xbow Record

Robert Malander with his state-record crossbow buck.

Hunter: Robert Malander

State: Nebraska

B&C Score: 206-2/8 gross, 195-3/8 net

Malander’s buck, the new Nebraska state-record nontypical crossbow kill, was shot on September 10 in Nance county. “I started getting trail-cam pictures of this buck in early August, and I was seeing him before dark by the beginning of September,” Malander says. Starting on September 5th, the hunter hung the same stand in three different spots to home in the giant deer. “On the 10th, the big guy showed up at 7:45 am, about 110 yards out, and started feeding away from me. For some reason he stopped, threw his head up, spun, and ran straight back toward my stand. He stopped at 40 yards, turned, and looked back. After I calmed myself, I was able to pull up and steady my crossbow, then make the shot. It was the only deer I’ve ever seen that got bigger as I walked up to it.”

Greg Widiker and his buck

Buck #12: Double-Drop, II

Another gorgeous drop-tine trophy.

Hunter: Greg Widiker

State: Wisconsin

B&C Score: 204-5/8 gross, 196-3/8 net

Widiker, a teacher in northwestern Wisconsin who owns 80 acres in Burnett County, knew he had a giant buck living on his slice of whitetail paradise. “It was the first week of bow season when I got a perfect evening to set up really close to the buck’s bedding area with a climbing treestand. At one point, a doe feeding on acorns nearby caught sight of me and got nervous. Then I heard a buck roar and crashing in the popples behind me. I gave a soft contact grunt and could hear a buck walking toward me, so I started to grab my bow. Just then, the doe caught me and blew every deer out of there. I gave a snort-wheeze to try to draw the buck back out, but it never did return.

“But soon I heard another deer walking toward me. It was different though—a slow, methodical walk. I could see the deer’s body at about 80 yards, so I put my binocular on it and spotted a wall of tines! I watched the buck munch on acorns for 15 minutes. As he got closer and closer, I started shaking worse and worse. I took some deep breaths and by the time I got it together, the giant buck was only 10 yards away. It was dead silent. I wasn’t sure how I could draw with it so quiet. I could hear him sniffing the ground, and crunching acorns. So I planned to draw the next time he crunched. It worked, and I managed to make a perfect shot.”

Widiker’s huge buck has 15 scoreable points, including an 11-plus-inch drop tine, and 20-2/8-inch inside spread. It’s also the new Burnett County archery nontypical record.”

Ryan Justman

Buck #13: The Badger State Brute

Yet another huge drop tine, Justman’s buck carries its mass out almost to the tips.

Hunter: Ryan Justman

State: Wisconsin

B&C Score: 202-6/8 gross, 195-5/8 net

Western Wisconsin has been a top producer of Booner bucks for years, and Justman’s is yet another prime example of how good this part of the country can be. The giant whitetail made the mistake of stepping within bow range of Justman on November 10 of last fall. “He has 17 scorable points as an 11X6,” Justman says. “He was super wide at 20-3/8 inches inside, and he’s just a really heavy-racked buck, with over 42 inches of mass measurements.”

Jordan Hanks

Buck #14: The Busted Bruiser

With busted tines and a poked-out eye, Hanks’ buck was a true bruiser.

Hunter: Jordan Hanks

State: Illinois

B&C Score: 201-7/8 gross, 198-2/8 net

Who knows what this buck would have scored if Hanks had tagged him before he’d broken off four tines? On the other hand, who cares? Hanks had known the buck for three seasons and knew exactly—besides the enormous rack—how to identify him. “The buck had poked his left eye out in 2015, so he was easy to spot in trail-cam pics because his left eye wouldn’t shine,” Hanks says. “I have three sheds off this deer, plus trail-cam pictures, and I can prove this deer is only four years old.” Hanks pulled the trigger on his 12-gauge Browning A-bolt and dropped the giant on November 17, 2017. The buck has 28-4/8 inches of abnormal points, and main beams that measure 31-5/8 (right) and 29-4/8 inches (left).

Robert Haley

Buck #15: The “Management Buck”

Robert Haley and his dark-horned Texas trophy.

Hunter: Robert Haley

State: Texas

B&C Score: 201-6/8 gross, 195-5/8

Haley was hunting on his family’s 1,700-acre ranch when he finally got a shot at a buck he’d been watching for three seasons. “We bought the ranch in 2002 and have taken 15 gross Booners that average 196,” Haley says. “This was our second net-B&C buck; my dad harvested the other one in 2003. We manage the deer herd hard, we harvest our does, and we’re are lucky to keep bucks on our property every year with food plots in spring and fall.”