The Biggest Bucks of the 2021 Deer Season
Ten 200-plus inchers, three potential record-setting deer, and one possible world record. Here are the biggest bucks taken by hunters in 2021
Every year when I’m putting together this roundup, I think, We can’t possibly top last year’s. And then we do. Like always, we’ve got some 200-plus-inch, gnarly non-typicals on this list. But what makes this year’s edition so special is the number of 190-class-and-up typical whitetails, a couple of which are the largest I can remember covering in recent years. It’s rare for a buck to grow such a huge set of antlers without also sprouting the kickers and drop tines and forks that would push it into the non-typ category. To give you a sense of how rare, one of my B&C scorer buddies described the first buck in this gallery (Dustin Huff’s Indiana behemoth) as “one of those typicals that only comes along once every three decades or so.”
Of course, those big typical whitetails aren’t the only monsters to gawk at below. We’ve got huge velvet muleys, great 8s, a crazy cactus buck, and a bunch of other whoppers to prove that just when you think deer hunting can’t get much better, it does.
1. Dustin Huff’s Potential World Record Crossbow Buck
One of the toughest challenges in all of whitetail hunting is tagging a buck that nets over 200 inches as a typical. Dustin Huff’s incredible Indiana buck not only does that with relative ease; it also stands to become the new Indiana state record, a new world-record crossbow buck, and it could overtake the Jordan buck as the No. 2 buck in the B&C record book, behind only Milo Hanson’s famous Saskatchewan giant. Huff’s huge 6X6 has it all—mass, towering height, and symmetry that could result in a final net score in the neighborhood of 208 inches. Read the full story here.
2. Jim Thome’s Major League Monster
Retired MLB slugger and Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome was known for coming up big when the situation demanded it, and he used that cool-under-pressure poise to make a lethal shot on a buck he’d been chasing for three seasons. Thome’s Illinois giant, a main-frame 5X5 with several abnormal points, is said to have green grossed 226 inches and could well be the highest-grossing typical tagged in the country this fall. Read the full story here.
3. Holden Torres’s DIY Dandy
When Holden Torres and his hunting buddy, Austin Bass, drew a pair of Kansas nonresident archery tags, they made the long drive from their Louisiana home to scout and obtain permission in July. That extra effort paid off in November when the pair returned to bowhunt the rut. Bass killed a 155-inch 8-point the first day and, not to be outdone, Torres answered by arrowing this 6X6 monster that green-grossed 199⅜. “I was honestly at a loss for words when I walked up to the buck,” Torres recalled. “He looked like a dinosaur. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have a chance at a buck like that in my lifetime.” Read the full story here.
4. Jordan Smith’s 180-Inch 8-Pointer
Just seeing a B&C-class 8-point is a rarity; having multiple encounters with one and then killing him is something else altogether. Jordan Smith saw this incredible Kansas buck from a stand located near an old oil rig three times in the course of a week. Multiple mishaps (including an oil rig worker checking the rig as the buck worked into bow range) seemed to be preventing him from sealing the deal, until Smith snuck into his stand for a brief sit on the last day of his hunt and finally tagged the monster. The green-gross 183-4/8-inch main-frame 8 sported 6⅞-inch bases, 25-inch main beams, and 12-inch G2s. Amazingly, the mass at the end of the main beams was even thicker than the bases, at 7 inches.
5. Zach Meadows’s Potential Oklahoma State Record
After tagging a nice buck in Oklahoma’s early-muzzleloader season, Zach Meadows was still getting trail-cam pics of two other great bucks on his property: a 180-class non-typical and an even bigger buck. Meadows was bowhunting on November 3 when the 180 showed up and walked within bow range. Meadows hesitated, thinking that bigger one might give him a chance one day—but he didn’t know it would be that day. When the 180 looked into the timber and postured, Meadows followed the buck’s gaze and saw the monster heading his way. Meadows made good on the shot on a main-frame 5X5 that green grossed 210 inches. While the buck has plenty of stickers, scorers say it has a chance of besting the state’s 188⅝-inch bow-kill record. Read the full story here.
6. Kevin Christorf’s Sure-Bet Wisconsin Crossbow Record
Five acres and a canoe was all it took for Wisconsin DNR conservation warden Kevin Christorf to tag one of the Badger State’s best typicals ever. Well, that plus woodsmanship and a whole lot of determination. The avid hunter paddled across a river to grind out multiple sits for a buck known in his neighborhood as “Hector.” And the effort all paid off on October 28, when the huge buck walked out of a cornfield and into the 5 acres of woods Christorf was hunting. After several tense moments, the buck finally gave Christorf a chip shot and tipped over after a short run. With an unofficial green net score of 196⅞ inches the buck should smash the state’s crossbow typical record (currently 179⅞”) and rank among Wisconsin’s best typicals ever. Read the full story here.
7. Zerl Lyon’s “Mufasa” Buck
Minnesotan Chris Lyon knew there was a giant buck in his neighborhood; the monster whitetail would show up on his cameras about once a year. “He just didn’t seem to spend much time on our property,” Lyon said. “But right before this fall’s youth season, I got a couple pics of him.” Lyon took his son Zerl to a blind overlooking a nearby food plot on the opener, and Zerl’s summer of shooting practice was immediately put to the test when Mufasa appeared and walked into gun range. Zerl made good on three well-placed shots and tagged the 197-4/8-inch giant that had given area hunters the slip for at least three seasons. Read the full story here.
8. Keith Marquardt’s Great 8
There are only 40 typical whitetail bucks that have netted the 170-inch minimum required to qualify for the B&C record book, but that elite group will likely have another member if Keith Marquardt enters his 2021 Kansas buck. “I first saw him in July, when I was out driving and scouting and looking for deer,” Marquardt recalled. “I saw him 12 more times that summer and was able to get some good pics and video of him. The last time I saw him, he was in a spot where I felt I could get permission, and I was able to do that. I hung a camera and didn’t get a single pic of him until November 5th, which is also the day I harvested him.” Marquardt’s towering 8-point green-netted 179-4/8. “He had a big drop tine on the right side this summer, and after I killed him, another hunter who’d been after him showed me some pics he had; the buck had the drop until October 6th but broke it off some time after that.”
9. Mark Buringa’s Redemption Buck
When Mark Buringa and his dad, Mike, checked trail cameras last summer, they immediately saw a huge buck with a monstrous left side. “We didn’t figure it out right away, but after a while we realized it had to be a buck I’d hit the year before,” Mark said. “He’d grown a really odd side on the opposite side of his injury.” While the Buringa clan hoped for an encounter with the giant buck, the hunt for him was a challenge. “We had pics of him hitting scrapes in October, but always at night,” Buringa said. “On opening day of the gun season, one of our guys was coming down from his stand and spooked the buck. We kind of figured it was over after that. But the next Saturday I was walking in to my stand, and I spotted him out in a field with a couple of does. There was no mistaking that rack. He came in to 175 yards, and I shoot a Savage 220 bolt action, which is accurate well beyond that. I managed to settle in and take the shot—and this time I heard that thunk when you get a solid hit. I knew I had him.” Word of Buringa’s buck spread quickly. Buringa, a college sophomore, was a state champion wrestler in high school (no small feat in wrestling-crazy Minnesota), but he was wasn’t prepared for the attention he got after shooting the buck. “It was bigger than winning state,” Buringa laughed.
10. Mark Drury’s 2nd Biggest Ever
“This buck would always disappear from my farm almost as soon as he shed velvet, so when he showed up again this summer, I felt he would repeat the pattern he’d exhibited for the last three seasons,” Drury said. But the expert whitetail hunter was pleasantly surprised when he started getting hard-antler pics of the buck in September. “He did seem to disappear about September 30, and I figured Here we go again.” Then, on October 6, he got a pic of him on one of his radish plots and decided to give him a try. “I was pretty amazed when he showed up.” Drury said. His prodigal buck grossed 216⅝ inches and is his second-largest buck ever.
11. Greta Yira’s Local Legend
Some giant bucks fly under everyone’s radar until they are killed, but Greta Yira’s whopper 6X6 was lucky to survive from year to year. “We called him ‘Hank the Tank,’ and he survived two archery shots from other hunters in years past, as well as getting hit by a car in early 2021,” Yira said. “We have had this buck on camera for 4 years, but he never was seen during the day, until he walked in front of me during the gun season, about 70 yards away from our last trail-cam pic of him. I was blessed to take down a legend only minutes from where the Jordan buck was shot—truly the hunt of a lifetime.” Yira’s wide and massive buck grossed 195-⅛ inches.
12. Cort Travis’s Sooner Stud
When Cort Travis and his friend got permission to hunt an 80-acre tract close to school, they immediately got pics of several bucks, including a palmated giant that would turn any hunter’s head. Trouble was, Travis was not only a full-time student but held down a part-time job, so finding hunting time was a challenge. Still, Travis was able to devote every afternoon of the Sooner State’s late-October muzzleloader season to hunting the buck. On October 29, the giant appeared just off the property line, then followed a doe onto Travis’ tract and into muzzleloader range. The 22-point beast green-scored 213 inches with a palmated left side, a drop-tine, and stickers galore..
13. Bessie Schommer’s Senior-Year Slammer
Bessie Schommer grew up in a hunting family and has been a passionate deer hunter for years. But she hadn’t had much time to hunt with her dad this fall and decided to change that on a beautiful November afternoon. “I knew my dad wasn’t hunting that afternoon, so I asked him to go with me,” Schommer said. “We hadn’t hunted together all fall, and I wanted to spend some time with him. We are a hunting family. It’s just something we do together, and I have always been into it.” While the Schommers had several pics of a giant buck on their Pierce County property, the buck had yet to show up in daylight—but that was about to change in a big way. “We were sitting on a food plot and had watched a little nubbin buck walk in and feed,” she recalled. “Then I looked up, and all I could see were horns walking in!” Schommer kept her cool–she’d only shot one other buck before–and made a killing shot on a 190-class buck with her crossbow. Read the full story here.
14. Tessa Taylor’s Monster Muley
“The third stalk is the charm,” said Tessa Taylor of her pursuit of this Sunflower State monster muley. Taylor had had two other encounters with the giant buck—including a miss on a 75-yard shot–before she was able to slip within crossbow range of the buck. “After several hundred yards of belly crawling, I was finally able to get close to him and some does,” she recalled. “Hours passed, just sitting and waiting. Finally, he stood up, and I was able to range him. He gave me a 70-yard shot with my Ravin crossbow, and this time I made it. I could not be more excited, thankful, and proud of this 2021 deer season.” Taylor’s wide, massive muley grossed 200 inches.
15. Jeremy Brower’s Ice Breaker Buck
Jeremy Brower had enjoyed 12 seasons of deer hunting, but still had not put his tag on a whitetail with antlers. Brower had leased a 45-acre tract in 2018 and had shot several does and passed on some small bucks, but hew was still waiting for a buck that he wanted to put on the wall. Well, Brower’s patience paid off on November 13 when, as he watched a doe in the field in front of him, he spotted a good buck several hundred yards off. Though the buck slipped into the woods, within minutes the deer reappeared and was already in range. Brower managed to get the gun up on the already-alert buck and make the shot. The massive 6X6 grossed 185 inches and had broken off a pair of tines that would have easily pushed the score into the 190s. “I couldn’t care less, honestly,” Brower said. “It’s unbelievably beautiful, and I’m blessed.” Read the full story here.
16. Tristan Mueller’s Mini-Tact Monster
Wisconsin bowhunter Tristan Mueller only had eight (yes, 8) acres to work with, but that didn’t stop him from arrowing a Booner this fall. “I was able to hold a bunch of does with a couple food plots, and once they started to come into heat, the bucks started showing up,” Mueller said. “The buck I nicknamed ‘Tiny’ eventually appeared in daylight, and I was able to stalk within 50 yards to get a shot with my bow and watched him fall 40 yards away from me. It was an unreal moment and feeling of accomplishment to shoot a buck of this caliber off my own 8 acres.” Mueller’s main-frame 6X6 sported two stickers and grossed 178⅝.
17. Hailey Spence’s Mixed Double
Hailey Spence was determined to take a western Saskatchewan whitetail that she, and her dad and brother, knew well. “After capturing him on camera for several years, I decided he would be my target buck this fall,” Spence said. “He ended up being one of the most patient bucks I have ever come across. When we walked through the bluffs on cold mornings, he would not spook until we were within 10 yards of each other. This buck actually cost me five bullets over three long days of missing running shots. Finally I saw him one morning while he was in rut, and this time I hit the mark. I could not have done it without the help of my dad and brother.” The buck gross-scored 173⅝.
Spence still had a rifle tag for mule deer and went out with my friend. The two hunters spotted the tall tines of a great buck they’d never seen before, bedded near a gravel pit. “With the wind in our favor, we stalked as close to him as we dared and then settled in. Finally he stood up, and I leaned up on a rock and dropped him in one shot. The cool thing we noticed as we walked up is that he was still carrying strips of velvet in the start of November.” Her muley rough-scored 171⅝.
18. Mike Beadle’s Hot-Wired Buck
Plentiful roosters are only one benefit to hunting South Dakota pheasants; you might also spot a world-class whitetail. That’s what Mike Beadle did last fall, when he laid eyes on a giant buck while chasing birds. Beadle hung trail cams early the summer and zeroed in on the buck, then spent the first week of the archery season hunting the monster. On September 12, Beadle was set up in a shelterbelt when the buck walked into bow range. Along with the tangle of fence wire, the buck sported 26 scorable points, including double drop tines. The monster green grossed 218⅞ inches and netted 209⅞, which could place the buck among the top-three bow-killed non-typicals in the state record book.
19. Brad Wikman’s Trifecta
Wisconsin hunter Brandon Wikman kicked off his 2021 season by traveling to Kansas to take advantage of their early muzzleloader season. On the first evening, a tall-racked 9-pointer stepped out, and Wikman killed him after only a 2-hour hunt. The Kansas buck green grossed 174 inches and is pictured in the lower left in the photo collage above. The hunter didn’t have to wait long for his Wisconsin buck either. With a cold front coming, he slipped into a stand he knew was close to where a nice buck was bedding. “I sat in the stand for no more than 20 minutes before I killed him at 20 yards.” That buck rough-scored 150 inches and is on the lower right above.
Then Wikman turned his attention to Illinois for their October 1 bow opener. “The buck on my mind was well-known in the neighborhood as ‘All Star,’ but I just referred to him as ‘Brows,’ considering his unusually unique set of brow tines.” The buck had been feeding in a brassica plot on a semi-consistent basis. “The day I went in for the kill was rainy and overcast, and he stepped out at 42 yards with a few does.” Wikman made good on the shot, and the buck green grossed 187-4/8. It’s the towering typical at top of the collage.
21. Audrey Ediger’s Velvet Muley
Saskatchewan teen Audrey Ediger and her dad first spotted this buck in late August and went every morning and night to scout the monster until opening day. “I spent the first three days of bow season at school before I could hunt on Sunday,” says Ediger, 14. “We found the buck we’d been watching, and then started our stalk through a canola field. After finding a sprayer track, we followed it to within 35 yards, then settled in to wait.” And it was a long one. “Finally, after four hours, the buck stood up and browsed to within 30 yards, and I let my arrow fly!” Audrey used a Diamond Edge 320 compound bow to kill her velvet giant, which green grossed 251-4/8 B&C and will rank among the top velvet muleys killed in the province.
22. Benny Overholt’s Giant Georgia Cactus Buck
Our friends over at Outdoor Life broke the story of Benny Overholt’s incredible Georgia cactus buck. Overholt actually passed on the buck in 2020, and this year notice in his trail-cam photos that the deer never shed its velvet, as the rack just got bigger and crazier. In September, the bowhunter got his chance to take the buck and made a perfect. It’ll be tough one to score, but word is it will go somewhere over 200 inches.
“I’m really humbled by the whole experience and feel blessed and honored I just happened to be the bowhunter who took such an incredible animal,” Overholt told OL. Read the full story here.
23. Colton Russell’s Empire State Stud
Colt Russell knew about a monstrous buck in his area, but harbored no illusion about killing it. “We had trail-cam pics of this buck for three seasons, and every year, just about the time archery season comes in, he would disappear and relocate to other properties.” Russell said. “I honestly didn’t even have a thought of him in my head when I went out on the third day of the season.”
Russell had still-hunted close to 2 miles into the big woods of New York’s Adirondacks that afternoon, had nearly shot at a doe, and then realized he’d better start working back to his truck. “I kept creeping along for awhile, but then decided to pick up the pace,” he recalled. “I was still being quiet, but not really hunting. I was about 250 yards from the truck when I glanced over and saw the body of a big deer. I honestly didn’t care if it was a buck or a doe, I wanted to get in range for a shot. I crept down the trail a little bit and I finally had the perfect window; all I could see was the area behind the shoulder. When I shot, the deer dropped immediately and then I could see the crab claws on the ends of his antlers. I went up there, finished him with a second shot, then stopped to take in that rack. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I kept counting and there were 20 points. He honestly looked like a horse lying there.”
Russell lives in a small town of 6,000 residents, but it didn’t take long for word of the Adirondack giant to spread. “I bet 400 people came by the house that weekend,” Russell said. “I honestly think it took three days for it to settle in that this had really happened, and it happened to me.” The buck was worthy of drawing a crowd; the massive, 20-point buck grossed 202 inchs B&C and netted 196, easily placing it among the state’s top 10 nontypical bowkills.