Another year of deer hunting is in the books, and while it’s been a very good one, it’s also been a much-too-short one. Isn’t it always? Seems like last week we were posting velvet bow bucks, and today the season is either winding down or over, depending on where you live. In the meantime, every month, we’ve been updating you on all the biggest bucks of the 2022. Now that the year is over, it’s time to take stock.
So, for this collection—the final installment of our monthly roundup—we’ve added a batch of new December bucks but also re-arranged all the incredible bucks that came before so they can be better appreciated. Why? Because while there’s a lot to be said for sheer size—and we’ve got plenty of absolute giants—some of the biggest bucks are memorable more for their funky racks, or wild hunt stories, or the fact that a trophy was shared with friends or family.
So, here we go. From monster velvet muleys arrowed when it still seemed like summer to late-season warriors tagged just last week, here are the biggest bucks of 2022.
The Biggest Bucks of 2022: The 200-Inch Club
No, size ins’t everything. But there’s nothing quite like the sight of a truly colossal free-range buck. And there’s hardly a deer hunter alive who doesn’t dream of taking a buck that eclipses that magic 200 number. Here are 10 hunters who’s dreams came true this past year.
2022’s Missouri Monarch
Josh Heuser set the whitetail world abuzz in early October when he posted harvest pictures and a few tantalizing hints about this absolutely colossal Missouri nontypical buck he’d been chasing for five years. The photos quickly made the rounds on social media, and everyone was asking if this could be a new Show-Me State archery record. With Missouri’s current archery nontypical record at 269 7/8-inch, it was a very high bar to clear—and Heuser’s buck came darn close, ultimately green-grossing 263 2/8 and with a net green score of 254 3/8, making it the highest-scoring buck we saw all year, and putting it in line to become the state’s No. 4 nontypical ever taken with a bow. You can read more about Heuser’s giant buck here.
Ryker Bergo knew there was a giant visiting the 40-acre Minnesota farm he owns with his brother, but he didn’t have much more information than that. “We know the property is small, so we just hunt the fringes and take the same approach with our cameras,” he told FS. “We had a few pics of this great buck, but not enough to establish any big pattern or anything. He might have been spending a bunch of time on our piece, but we sure didn’t have enough pictures or sightings to prove it.” But the Bergos careful approach paid off on this month when Ryker climbed into a stand and the giant appeared. One shot with his Savage 20-gauge anchored the huge nontypical, which sported 21 scorable points and grossed 212 B&C.
Buckeye Bullwinkle Buck
We’ve profiled Davey Stuckey several times in this space; the Ohio expert whitetailer has taken several whopper over the years, but perhaps none as impressive as the mammoth, wildly palmated whitetail he took on October 30th. The 228-inch giant sports 18 scorable points, has two drop tines, a 2-½-inch tine protruding from below his eye socket, and circumference measurements over 9 inches. The gigantic buck was well known to area hunters and residents, and Stuckey was far from the only one pursuing the deer. Stuckey actually missed the buck with his crossbow but got redemption just a few days later. You can read the full story here.
Kansas whitetail expert Donnie Monroe is no stranger to great big deer; as a member of the Team 200 television show, Monroe has several trophy bucks on his wall, including a 200-inch buck shot in 2018. He took another monster this month—and manage to break a record in the process. ‘I spent a lot of time glassing this buck, putting out trail cams, and coming up with a plan. I finally figured out where he was bedding and which beanfield he liked to feed in, and I decided I had to try for him in a little pocket of cover connecting the two.”
Monroe’s plan worked. “I knew I was going to have a narrow window of opportunity if he showed up, so I sat on the ground and kept my muzzleloader on shooting sticks, with the butt against my bino harness. I’m normally a bowhunter and I probably should have had it, since the buck came through at 40 yards.” Monroe’s buck had 23 scorable points, grossed 230-4/8 B&C, and went 213⅞ on the Buckmasters system, which beat the previous state-record BTR muzzleloader buck by ⅞ of an inch.
Starting at the Top
With her first-ever deer, Devyn Messenger tagged the buck of a lifetime—and on heavily pressured public land too. On November 5, while hunting with her husband at Kansas’s Fort Riley, Messenger rattled in the 200-plus-inch monster to 25 yards before taking the buck with her crossbow. “The buck ran in from a patch of woods in front of us and hit every tree branch on the way to me. He was just ready to fight. He came right in to about 25 yards and stopped with a grunt in a perfect clearing,” she told F&S.
The rack boasts a massive 17-inch G2 on the right side and green-grossed 218 5/8 inches as a nontypical. “I honestly knew nothing about scoring,” she says. “I didn’t know what Pope and Young was. I didn’t know what Boone & Crockett was. And I’m so glad I didn’t. I think I would’ve been more nervous. I really didn’t fully realize what he was.” You can the full story of her hunt here.
Hoosier Frost Giant
Indiana bowhunter Cody Rowe discovered a buck during last year’s late archery season that would make him forget other deer. “I passed several other bucks then, waiting for him, but my trail cams proved I was always missing him by a few hours,” Rowe said. The hunter’s resolve only grew this year when the buck—even bigger now—appeared on his summer trail cams. Rowe packed in 30 hunts between the Indiana opener until mid-November, when the season’s first snowfall hit. “I got into my stand and shivered all day until about 3 p.m., when I could see his snow-covered rack moving in,” he recalled. Rowe waited until the buck neared a creek crossing only 20 yards from his stand, then made good on the shot. After a short tracking job, Rowe was wrapping his hands around a main-frame 10-point that would gross 205 inches B&C.
Ohio whitetail nut Randy Kukral had barely finished killing his first 200-plus-inch buck last fall when his quest for another began. “Last fall, I shot a 210-inch deer and shortly after that I was driving around talking to my dad when I spotted this huge buck following a doe in the timber,” Kukral told FS. “I told dad ‘Just saw a giant, gotta go!’ and hung up in time to get some video footage of this absolute monster with a drop tine. Trouble was, I didn’t have access to hunt the property he was on.”
Kukral never did get permission to hunt that acreage, but this fall he was able to access three other small properties, ranging from 8 to 20 acres, nearby. But that was all it took for Kukral to get on the monster he’d spotted the year before. “I finally got him on camera, plus another buck I think would have gone 180,” he said. “I actually had a chance to kill the 180, and I passed him, knowing the bigger one was in there. Kukral’s patience paid off on an afternoon hunt on November 16, when the giant walked into range. “I’d never seen a deer move so slowly,” Kukral said. “It took him a minute between steps, and I think half the time he was trying to figure out how to maneuver his rack through the brush” Kukral’s crossbow delivered a killing bolt and that evening the hunter was standing over an Ohio giant that grossed 232 inches and had 20 scorable points.
In her Instagram post describing the hunt for this amazing trophy, Iowa bowhunter Paige Skinner said she and her husband nicknamed the deer “The Cotton Eye Joe buck” (as in, Where did he come from; where did he go?) They got a single trail-cam pic of the monster on November 4. Then the buck disappeared until the 12th. Skinner knew she’d simply have to put in her time to catch up with the unpredictable giant. After several sits hoping to see the buck, Skinner finally spotted him at 400 yards on the afternoon of November 18th. The Hawkeye State whopper eventually worked to within 30 yards of Skinner’s position, and she made good on the shot, tagging a monstrous nontypical that will score well over 200 inches.
South Dakota Slammer
Sam Vedvei posted photos of this incredible South Dakota buck on October 19, writing: “Last night’s hunt was the stuff of fairytales for whitetail hunters. The wind was perfect, the buck came right in, just like I’d imagined with 5 minutes to last light. I am still in disbelief. The King is dead. Thankful is an understatement. I’m gonna have a hard time topping this one!” We haven’t been able to reach the hunter yet for details, but stay tuned.
Sooner State Stud
This 204-inch Oklahoma giant suddenly showed up Conner Webb’s trail cameras in October. “I only knew about this deer for six days before I was able to shoot him,” Webb told F&S. Webb is obviously a quick study, as he came up with a solid game plan and arrowed the monster on only his second sit. You can read the full story of his hunt here.
The Biggest Bucks of 2022: Near-200 Typicals
One thing about 200-inch deer is that they are almost all nontypical bucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But to reach the 200-inch mark with a typical buck is truly rarified air. And so any typical bucks that come close deserve special credit. Here are five.
Close-Enough Typical 10
In mid-October, while hunting a new property, Illinois hunter John Totzke got a pic of a buck that really caught his attention—a tall-racked typical he and his friends thought would score in the upper 170s. Not surprisingly, the giant was largely nocturnal, but Totzke felt the rut would get the buck on his feet in daylight, and in late October when the forecast called for the south winds, Totzke knew he had to hunt his best stands. “On Halloween, I decided to hunt for him the next six days, but by November 5th, I still hadn’t seen him, so the next day I headed to a stand in the timber” he told F&S. “At 3:27 p.m., I heard a faint grunt and looked to my right and saw a doe with her mouth open and on a good trot towards me. When I looked behind her, all I could was see a massive wall of tines. The buck took another trail that led him directly to my mock scrape at 21 yards, where I made a perfect shot.” Totzke’s symmetrical 10-point green-grossed 199-⅛ B&C.
Hemp Farm Hammer
Bobby Pagel’s father owns a 60-acre hemp farm outside Eau Claire, Wisconsin, that was among the favorite hangouts for a wide, gorgeous 10-point whitetail. After finding the buck’s sheds last spring, Pagel vowed he’d chase that buck and none other. He set out several wireless cameras for the fall and was thrilled when the buck showed up on them in October. Despite several sightings and one close encounter, Pagel wouldn’t catch up with the giant until he set up for an all-day sit on November 5th (one of FS’s Best Days of the 2022 Rut, by the way). With two hours of daylight left, Pagel spotted the giant out cruising. “I looked up, and there he came from about 200 yards out—cruising by himself,” he said. “I had a couple of smaller bucks and a pile of does behind me, and I think he was coming in to investigate them.” The wide-racked 10 finally worked into 30 yards, and Pagel fought off nerves and made a killing shot. The perfect 10 scored 192 inches B&C and could threaten the county record for the largest bow-killed typical. You can read the full story here.
Prairie State Picket Fence
A fellow B&C scorer friend from Illinois shared this post with me from Illinois Whitetails. The term “picket fence buck” is often used to describe a whitetail with an impressive row of typical tines, and the term certainly applies to Trevor Henderson’s Illinois giant. Henderson was hunting during the Prairie State’s shotgun season when he encountered this incredible 7X7. While we’re still waiting to catch up with Trevor, we showed the buck to some veteran B&C scorers, who agreed the whitetail could push the 200-inch mark as a typical; some rarefied ground for sure. We’ll stick with this story and report more as soon as we have it.
Mystery Missouri Monster
We don’t know a lot about this huge Missouri gun-season typical yet, except that Kate Sanford posted photos of the giant on her Facebook page. The buzz is that the buck could net 200 typical.
Monster High-Country Muley
Veteran backcountry hunter Donnie Paul posted this great buck on his Instagram page. We are still hoping for more details, but apparently he trekked 8 miles into the Wyoming mountains to tag this incredible muley. The tall, wide-racked giant grossed 194-2/8 inches.
The Biggest Bucks of 2022: Freak Show
For a lot of deer hunters, the coolest bucks are the gnarliest, almost no matter what the score. The biggest nontypical deer are going to have their share of abnormal points, of course, but a smaller buck that’s has crazy palmation or multiple drop-points or a third beam get extra credit for being extra-funky. Like these bucks:
Keystone State Thriller
Pennsylvania hunter Dante Guglielmo had been chasing a wild-looking whitetail he named Thriller for two years and even had a chance at the buck last November—but shot right over the deer’s back. “I caught up with him again this year on Thanksgiving morning, though, and was able to get it done. He had a broken front leg that was locked up, and I’m guessing that is why his rack grew so crazy in back-to-back years.”
Orlando Vivone had just gotten access on some new hunting ground for the season when he started getting pics in August of a buck he named “Freak Nasty.” “I’d never seen a buck with a rack like that,” Vivone told F&S. “I have five other pieces of private land, and I have three shooter bucks at each place. Some would have scored better than this, but I really wanted this buck.”
On October 17, Vivone felt he had the right wind to hunt a stand for Freak Nasty, but he started having second thoughts during the hunt after a couple of does smelled him and spooked. Then he spotted his first buck. “At around 6:48 p.m. I noticed a small basket buck coming through the timber. He jumped a fence and hit a scrape in front of me. I ranged him at 22 yards, and he looked back like he heard something. I looked and all I saw was a huge body following him. I didn’t know which buck it was, but I noticed a drop tine and knew I would shoot. When he hit the scrape, I stopped him and took the shot. He ran back toward the fence but couldn’t make it over, and when I walked up on him I knew exactly which buck I’d just shot.” Vivone’s giant nontypical weighed 234 pounds field dressed and grossed 195 1/8 inches B&C.
Prairie State whitetail hunters are had one of their best years for trophy bucks in recent memory, and David Heinemann added to the mix with this massive nontyp, which he posted on his Facebook page earlier this month. If you’re a junk-lover, you’ll get a kick out of all the, er, kickers (and stickers) on this incredible buck, which sports a massive drop-tine to boot. Deer like this have my Illinois scorer buddies saying 2022 reminds them of the 1990’s—a decade when Prairie State hunters saturated the B&C and P&Y books with dozens of absolute whoppers.
Think you need all the latest scent-control products and stay hyper-focused on stand to kill a giant buck? Tell that to Laran Kaplan, who tagged a 198-inch Hawkeye State slammer this month doing almost none of that. “I didn’t even know where he came from,” Kaplan told F&S. “I was too busy on my phone and smoking cigarettes, and suddenly he was just there. He came in so quietly and fast, I didn’t even know he was there until he started a scrape. When I turned to look at him, I saw his rack first and put my cigarette out and grabbed my bow. Then I looked again to see if was still there or if I was just imagining it. I could see he was clueless that I was there, and that’s when the buck fever set in. I was shaking so bad I thought I was gonna fall out of the stand. When I shot him I watched him run down the hill until he was out of sight, and then I called my friend Dean and my dad and told them that I just shot a monster buck. They didn’t believe me until we found him.”
Kansas Triple-Beam Beast
An arid summer has posed some problems for whitetail hunters in Kansas and other central plains states, but it turned out to be a boon for Pete Alfano. “With our extreme drought conditions and lack of food on neighboring farms, I pulled in quite a few new bucks this season, including one I knew was going to be special when I spotted him in summer,” said the co-owner of Whitetail Properties. “I’d done a lot of scouting for this deer and felt he bedded close to a bean field I’d planted that was adjacent to water. I got into the stand on opening day, and it was like the buck read my script.” Alfano’s giant grossed 194⅜ inches and sported a 13-inch beam that sprouted from his forehead.
Ohio whitetail nut Cynthia Wilford was seven months pregnant when she tagged a giant buck she’d been chasing all fall. Wilford had set her sights on the monster as soon as he appeared on summer trail cams, and she even had the buck within bow range during the Buckeye State archery season but couldn’t get a shot. Wilford persisted and was rewarded on the opening day of the state’s gun season. “At first light I spotted a buck in the brush but wasn’t sure if it was him at first,” Wilford told F&S. “Then at about 7:20 a.m., there he was at about 90 yards and once again I couldn’t get a shot. He started heading straight away and I thought he was going to get away again. Finally, he stopped at about 190 yards broadside, and I drilled him.” Wilford’s heavy-racked buck at 182-6/8 Buckmasters.
The Biggest Bucks of 2022: Friends and Family
Tagging any whopper buck is an experience you’ll remember forever and a dream come true for many of us. But no matter how big the buck is, it’s better when it has a strong connection to friends or family. Lucky for us hunters, that is often the case, and the sheer number of bucks in this category proves it.
A Buck for a Bud
Jacob Fogt is a 22-year-old Buckeye State farmer who got into deer hunting only three years ago, thanks to the encouragement and advice of another farming buddy. “My friend Evan Winter got me into deer hunting, and it just kind of got a hold of me,” Fogt said. “When Evan died in a farming accident, I decided to devote myself to a buck Evan knew well. ‘Gnarls’ was a nontypical that was well-known in our neighborhood; people in a 3-square-mile area had been getting pics of him since 2013. When I started hunting in 2019, he was the first buck I ever got on trail camera. I actually passed him twice that year, as I was hunting a pretty 8-point. While I found his sheds that spring, the next two falls I had him on camera but never managed to see him. This year, after Evan passed, I decided it was him or nothing.” Gnarls walked into one of Fogt’s food plots on the evening of October 8, the hunter made a killing shot with his Ravin crossbow. “Gnarls only scored 150 inches, but he was something special,” Fogt recalled. “He had a 32-inch spread and pop-can bases. His good side scored 83 inches, and he had double drops on the other. Considering his age and condition, plus what he meant to me because of Evan, I’m not sure I’ll ever top him. His right hind leg was broken, and he carried it that way for many years.”
Robbie Ammons is no stranger to great big whitetails; the Kentuckian has two bucks over 200 inches and a wall full of trophy bucks. But the veteran bowhunter had never shot a big velvet typical, something he wanted to change in the worst way. And he did just that the morning of the Bluegrass State bow opener, arrowing a 185-inch giant he’d been chasing for over two seasons. But the celebration wasn’t over in the Ammons’ family. Robbie’s son Garrett crawled into a stand that very evening and arrowed a 183-inch monster that was also packing a full rack of velvet. You can read the story of their hunt here.
Kentucky Public-Land Stud
Jace Allen is a Missouri deer nut, with friends in Kentucky who’d been pestering him to come down and hunt. “I’d actually never hunted there before, but then my buddy started sending me pics of a pair of bucks living on public land,” he told F&S. “I’d had a recent job change that allowed me more time to hunt, so I finally decided it was time to go. Plus the bucks he had on trail cam were pretty amazing.” Allen arrived just before the Kentucky bow opener and was determined to stay until he killed a good buck.
After nearly three weeks of effort, things finally came together. “I’d found this island of trees where I could see the corn and bean fields these bucks were basically living in,” he said. “I hung a stand and came back in the morning to hunt it. I managed to spot a buck we called “Crabs” in that bean field. He fed, then bedded, and I knew I had to put a stalk on him.” It was a windy day, and Allen decided to use that to his advantage by slipping in close and waiting for the buck to stand up and feed, a mid-morning pattern he’d observed. “I snuck to a spot I figured was 70 yards from his bed and settled in. When he finally stood up, I was shocked; he was only 29 yards away. I waited for him to put his head down to feed, then I stood and drew. As soon as he turned broadside, I took the shot. I could tell I’d hit him, but I nocked another arrow and when he stopped at 63 yards, I shot him again.” Allen found the buck after a short blood trail. Despite only a 16-inch inside spread and relatively short beams, his public-land, 14-point trophy grossed 182 inches B&C.
Missouri Best-Buds Double
Dalton Barnes shared this post on his Facebook page in October, showing an incredible Show-Me State double, taken by him (top) and his childhood friend, Josh Heuser. Reacting to his buddy’s buck, Barnes wrote in a related post: “I don’t even know what to say!! When we were kids we use to crawl around the floor acting like deer taking turns shooting each other with nerf guns while dreaming about deer like this. For both of us to be able to harvest the biggest deer of our lives four days apart is just mind blowing, and roughly pushing 475” of horn is just crazy.”
Young-Gun Buckeye Booner
Not many high-school kids have tagged one Booner whitetail, but Carson Putnam took his second this month. In 2021, Carson shot a 260-inch behemoth during the gun season. And this week, he proved that the first buck was no fluke when he tagged another giant, this time with his bow. While not officially gross-scored yet, this wide and heavy monster should push the 190-inch mark.
“My dad and I had been watching this buck all summer while scouting,” Carson said. “He showed up on our cameras about three weeks ago, and then started daylighting the week before the archery opener. I hunted him the Sunday of opening weekend but had no luck. The next day, I had trap-shooting practice after school so I couldn’t hunt, and of course he came out about 10 yards from my tree stand about 5:00 p.m. I was able to hunt the next evening, and he appeared about 5:30. I filmed him with my phone as he walked into the standing corn. Eventually he worked within 30 yards, and gave me a perfect broadside shot.”
Reindeer in October
Jeff Crowns was hunting southwestern Wisconsin on the morning of Sunday October 23rd, with his daughter Rose, when they encountered a buck they’d seen over the past two seasons. “We’d nicknamed him ‘Reindeer,’ and he actually stood up from his bed as he responded to my grunt call,” Crowns told F&S. “He walked straight toward us and gave me a 15-yard shot.” Crowns’ buck sported an incredible 27-inch spread, 39 inches of mass, and scored 189 inches B&C. It should threaten the Badger State record for typical crossbow kills. The giant buck weighed a whopping 253 pounds field dressed.
Beau Wamsley and his father had been chasing a buck they called “Stickers” for two seasons on their Nebraska property when the elder had a chance at him in the 2021 season. “Unfortunately, Dad had a crossbow malfunction and missed,” Beau said. “After that, the buck seemed to go nocturnal. We felt this buck was already going downhill, antler-wise, so I was determined to try for him this fall.” Beau was getting consistent photos of the buck prior the season, but he knew that he’d only have one chance at him.
“We had a good cold front come in, and the temperature dropped from the usual 90 to 95 degrees to 54 degrees for a high. When I saw that, I immediately told my boss I’d be leaving work around noon to go hunting,” Wamsely said. He headed to a stand near a bedding area along a river bottom. Deer after deer piled out that evening, but with 30 minutes of light the big one hadn’t shown. “Finally he emerged from the thickets, crossed the river, and walked right toward me. I stopped him after he crossed a fence, and he turned broadside.” Wamsley made good on a the 28-yard shot. “After three years of chasing the most notorious deer on the farm, I finally got him” The rack has a 23½-inch inside spread, 7½-inch bases, and 21 scorable points. “He ended up gross-scoring 186 and is my biggest deer to date. I’m 20 years old, and I’m still pumped up about it.”
What Friends Are For?
While hunting a new piece of public ground in Arkansas in early December, Josh Hogue’s best friend spotted a giant typical buck. The two worked together to pattern the deer, but Hogue always planned for his buddy to ultimately put a tag on bruiser.
On December 16, Hogue was free to hunt, but, due to obligations, his buddy couldn’t go. So Hogue gave him a call. “I said, ‘Man, please tell me yes or no if you want me to go in there without you,’ And he answered, ‘If I can’t go, you need to be in there. I’d rather it be you than anyone else.” With his buddy’s blessing, Hogue grabbed his gear and headed out.
Sure enough, a little after 8 a.m. that morning, the huge buck walked in to Hogue’s bow stand and turned broadside at 15 yards. You can read the full story here.
Buckeye Brothers Buck
Ohio hunter Matt Church and his brother had trail-cam photos of this great buck late last season and through this past summer. But then the deer vanished. “On Thanksgiving night, we got our first photo of the buck since summer, and he continued to show up but almost exclusively at night,” Church told F&S. Matt and his brother both hunted the buck in late November, and both bumped the buck from its bedding area. The big whitetail stayed in the vicinity, however, and with its core area located, the brothers hung two stands to catch the buck exiting his bed in the evenings. “After another encounter from the stand while bowhunting on December 8th, I went back into the same setup on the 12th with the north wind that he needed,” Matt said. “Fifteen minutes before dark, the buck followed a late estrous doe 28 yards from my saddle setup, and I arrowed him there. He scored 178 6/8 inches B&C.”
Southern Iowa deer experts Dawn and Beau Jensen know very well the power of snow and cold temps when it comes to getting mature bucks on their feet; the couple have tagged several Hawkeye State whoppers in December and January, and this year was another highlight. Dawn was first to score, with a drop-tine 10-point she killed on December 11 during Iowa’s shotgun season. “This was a 5-½-year-old buck that I’d seen numerous times before the season opened,” she told F&S. “Then he disappeared for a long time. Finally, we got a pic of him in the morning when I wasn’t hunting of course. But I kept after him. The afternoon I shot him I was actually kind of late getting to the blind, but I had great conditions and he finally appeared and I made the shot.”
Husband Beau waited until December 22 to tag his muzzleloader buck, and Dawn was in the blind filming him on one of the coldest days of the year. “Beau had seen this buck several times during the archery season but just couldn’t get a shot with his recurve,” she said. “When we went out for the muzzleloader hunt it was minus-38 with wind chill, and I think we saw about every buck we knew in the area on the food plot that afternoon.” One of those bucks was the heavy-racked 9-point Beau had been chasing all fall, and he made good on the shot. Beau’s buck was also 5-½ years old.
Father-and-Son Late-Season Studs
Think you need massive tracts of managed ground to kill monster bucks? Tell that to Zack and Matt Gandee, a father-and-son team that tagged a pair of late-season giants on tiny parcels. Zack scored first, with a 180-inch buck that his brother Dylon had been scouting for months. “We had pics of this buck, but since he was largely nocturnal on this property, I didn’t know what kind of chance we had,” Dylon said. “Plus the huntable ground we had was basically a ditch in a beanfield.” But the buck daylighted just as Zack arrived home for gun season and conditions seemed perfect for a chance. After several days with no success, Zack had only one hour left of hunting when the big 12-point appeared and walked to within 30 yards of his setup.
Not to be outdone, father Matt took an ancient buck two days before Christmas. “We actually had pics of this buck back in 2018, on another property,” Dylon said. “We lost access to that spot, then landed on another property in the same area this fall. We couldn’t believe it when we started getting pics of him again; this property is like 6 acres!” While Matt had seen the buck on several November hunts, the old warrior stayed on a neighboring farm. That all changed on the frigid afternoon of December 23, when Matt crawled up in a fenceline tree stand. The buck–estimated to be at least 8½ years old–rose from a bedding area and walked within range of Matt’s crossbow. The massive whitetail grossed 196 inches B&C.
The Biggest Bucks of 2022: Bonus Whoppers
Not every monster buck fits into a neat category—and that’s a good thing. Some big bucks are special for their own reasons—because it’s a hunter’s first or biggest or because it came off a small property or just because it makes for one damn good story. For those reasons and others, here are even more great bucks from 2022.
Kansas Broken-Bow Buck
Jared Paden saw this 190-class Kansas buck from stand on October 30th. But just a few day’s later on November 4th, he bent a cam on his compound bow while practicing with some new arrows. Paden bought a crossbow on the spot to use while his compound was being repaired, and the very next day, on November 6th, he headed back out. The hunter knew where he needed to be to ambush the buck, but there were no good stand trees in the area. So, he hid in some grassy cover on the edge of a soybean field, and when the giant buck chased a 140-inch 9-pointer right past him, Paden made good on a 30-yard broadside shot. The buck scored 192 2/8 B&C. You can read the full story here.
Three Acres and a Booner
Casey Nicewander is a military veteran who only got into bowhunting three years ago and hunts a southeastern Minnesota tract that measures only 3 acres. “It’s a rut funnel that hunts well for about two or three weeks in October and in early November,” he said. “It’s a pinch point where bucks come off the top of a bluff and the terrain and cover forces them to converge in a couple of spots. I’ve learned that if I come up from the bottom and stay off the trails, the thermals carry my scent downhill, and I’m pretty bulletproof. Last fall I killed a nice 8 there that was my biggest deer ever.” But Nicewander used that funnel to take things to the next level on October 18 this fall. “I was in the stand and saw a doe and a 6-point came down the bluff, followed by a buck that I could see had tall points and good mass. He was working through the cover when I finally had a good shot at 18 yards. The buck mule-kicked at the shot, then moved uphill toward a pine tree; I watched him through my binocs for quite awhile and he disappeared. I slipped out of there, but when we came back to track him we found him not far from that pine.” Nicewander’s buck grossed 180 inches and sported 14 scorable points.
Drury Outdoors co-owner and team member Terry Drury got a single trail-cam picture of a great buck on his Illinois farm in mid-October. While the buck appeared to be a very good one, conditions were so foggy, Drury couldn’t positively identify the deer, which led to his nickname of “Batman.” In the following weeks, Drury recognized Batman as a buck they’d had pics of during the last several seasons, and he’d exploded into a giant. Batman quickly became a target buck, but Drury didn’t catch up with him until November 19th, with the Illinois gun season in full swing. After a morning hunt that didn’t produce, Drury headed to a blind in a cornfield for the afternoon, and Batman followed a group of does into range of his Traditions Nitrofire. Despite breaking off the end of one main beam and a G5, Batman grossed 190-⅞ B&C. You can watch the full hunt on the Drury’s DeerCast Journal.
Icebreaker Georgia Giant
Bryce Spillers ended a long campaign on October 10th when he made a 30-yard bow shot on a buck he’d been after for three years. Spillers’ big nontypical whitetail sports 18 points and scored 198 2/8 inches. Georgia’s current top Pope and Young nontypical is a 213 4/8-inch giant killed in 2007 by Jay Maxwell, but the No. 2 buck, tagged by Kevin Carnes in 2015, scored 195-2/8. So Spillers’ buck has a solid shot at the runner-up spot. Oh, and did we mention that this is Spillers’ first whitetail buck ever? You can check out the full story of his Georgia giant here.
Matt Reed tagged his biggest whitetail buck ever on Kentucky’s September 3rd archery opener, after eying the buck all summer. With an unofficial Boone and Crockett score of 194 1/8 inches, the early-September trophy sports 18 points with super-wide bases and an 18 1/4-inch inside spread. “I don’t hunt this early in the season every year,” Reed told F&S. “But if I’m hunting a good-size deer, early season is the best time in my mind to hunt them, because you can time your watch to when they’re going be where they’re going to be.” Which is just what he did. Despite it being 90 degrees on that opening day, Reed’s target buck walked right under his stand at the appointed time and turned broadside. “Killing a deer like that has always been my end goal,” he said. “I’m still walking around with a stupid grin on my face.” You can read the full story here.
Minnesota Drop-Tine Monster
Chad Garteski knows top-notch whitetail ground. As owner of Weiss Realty, he sells it for a living, and as a dedicated deer hunter, he owns a chunk or two of it himself. Garteski was hunting one of his properties on the second day of the Minnesota bow season when he encountered a deer he’d named the “Jam-4″ buck. “He was one of my target deer last fall, and I almost had a shot at him on November 1, when he came in to rattling,” Gartestki said. “He smelled me at the last minute and stiff-legged away.” Garteski shot another great whitetail a few days later and was relieved to learn that the Jam-4 buck was alive and well after the season. The buck was a regular on Garteski’s trail cams this summer, and he hunted him the first time he had a perfect wind. “He showed up and there was velvet hanging all over, and twisted around, his rack,” Garteski said. “It was a pretty amazing sight.” The hunter gross scored the heavy-beamed, main-frame 10-point at 184 inches B&C but admitted it was hard to get an accurate tally with all that velvet in the way. Check out the full story of Garteski’s buck here.
Mystery Velvet Muley
We don’t know much about this incredible mule deer, except that it is obviously on the North side—the Far North side—of 200 inches and was apparently taken by a hunter named Collin Heaps. We’ll keep our nose to the wind for further details. In the meantime, feast your eyes.
When Heath Rayfield drew an early-muzzleloader tag for Kansas, he didn’t spend a second wondering where to hunt, but just called his friends Cody and Kelsey Nickel, owners of Double Nickel LLC. “During the summer, Cody and I started watching a deer he’d named ‘Austin’,” Rayfield said. As the opener approached, Cody felt that if the deer stayed true to his pattern, Rayfield would get a shot. The opener was September 12th, and with a perfect southwest wind, he climbed into a tripod stand. “I was overlooking a water tank that Austin had been hitting on his way to a soybean field in the evening.” Despite temperatures in the 90s, deer were moving early that day. “About 6:45pm, I looked across the CRP and saw three bucks coming to the tank, with Austin in the back. Watching him come for 300 yards was unbelievable, especially that early in the afternoon.” When the bucks reached the tank, Rayfield watched them drink for 10 minutes before they turned to head north. “I just had a small window in the tall grass to make the shot, but I touched it off. and after the shot I couldn’t tell if I’d hit my mark or if he’d just disappeared in the grass.” But with the help of his outfitter, he found the buck only 20 yards from where he’d shot him. “This was one of the quickest hunts I’ve ever had in Kansas; Austin was a super-wide buck and my second-largest at 179⅞ B&C. I can’t say enough about my Kansas family, Cody and Kelsy Nickels, and it was a blessing to be sitting behind this special deer.”
Texas Ranger Buck
Max Arquindegui is all set to start training for the U.S. Army’s Rangers but was able to sneak in a hunt at the Yugo Ranch in South Texas first. Guided by ranch manager Brent Johnson, Arquindegui arrowed this gorgeous 6X7 buck that sported a 23-inch inside spread and grossed 170-6/8 B&C. “It was an honor and very fulfilling for me to have a buck like this go to a special man like Max, who’s willing to give everything to protect our freedoms,” Johnson said.