Jesse Schroeder thought he was looking at the tines from a nice shed antler as he wandered a Minnesota farm back in early April. But as he moved in to scoop up his find, he realized that those few tines were part of an enormous rack attached to a dead buck. How enormous? Schroeder’s deadhead—which was officially panel scored on Saturday following the mandatory 60-day drying period—will almost certainly become Minnesota’s new No. 1 nontypical whitetail in the B&C record book, pending a final verification process.

Walking Up on a Record Buck

Schroeder was shed hunting a 32-acre Goodhue County property owned by his brother on April 7 when he found the buck. “I’ve picked up some nice sheds there over the years, but nothing that came anywhere close to this,” he told F&S. “I spotted the tines and walked toward then, and then I saw stuff sticking everywhere and my walk turned into a quick little sprint, followed by a high-school-girl scream when I kneeled by the buck. My shed hunting was definitely done for that day!”

After calling local conservation officer Brittany Hauser, Schroeder took possession of the rack and word of his incredible find spread. “I never had an encounter with him while hunting, or even a trail-cam pic of the buck, though he’d obviously been on the property at times in his life,” he said. “A friend of mine was hunting the property one afternoon and told me he saw a buck that looked like it had a tree on its head. But as the buck approached, my brother’s wife came outside to call her cats, and that scared the buck off. We’d heard there was a giant buck in the neighborhood, and we figured that had to be him.”

Other neighbors, however, were much more familiar with the deer. “After I found him, I started getting trail-cam pics and videos from hunters and landowners in the area,” Schroeder said. “They were from locations as far away as 5 miles, but all in the same basic corridor. One guy had a shed from the buck that he figured was from when the deer was 2-½ or 3-½ years old. That shed was from 2017, so the buck was 7 or 8 years old, the best we can figure.”

Schroeder said the buck’s carcass was basically a skeleton and revealed no clues as to cause of death. “I did notice some of his front teeth were gone, and it looked like the jaw bone might have been fractured and infected,” he said. “My guess is the buck got in a fight and got sick and just didn’t make it through the winter. We plant 5 or 6 aces of food plots every year, just to help the deer feed and winter well, but this winter was tough on the deer, with plenty of ice and snow and cold, which stayed around late.”

Scoring the Jumble of Tines

Schroeder’s record-breaking deadhead tallied a net nontypical score of 277-3/8 inches B&C. Jesse Schroeder

Schroeder’s buck was officially measured on June 10 by a panel from the Boone & Crockett Club, led by veteran measurer Dave Boland, and amassed a total net score of 277-⅜ inches. The Gopher State’s current nontypical state record is a 268-⅝-inch monster killed by Mitch Vakoch in Norman County in 1974, just shy of a half-century ago. B&C accepts found, or “picked up” heads in its record book—which means that the Schroeder deadhead is poised to overtake the Vakoch buck as Minnesota’s new No. 1.

The Schroeder buck has 10-point main frame that by itself gross-scored over 182 inches, with a 20⅝-inch inside spread, 23-inch main beams, and circumferences better than 6 inches at the base. But thanks to an amazing array of drop tines, kickers, and stickers, the buck gained 100 inches of abnormal points, which catapulted its score into B&C’s “world class” category. Assuming the panel score holds up (B&C typically reviews the scores of all top-end bucks), the Schroeder buck will be a new state record and tie for the 25th spot for nontypical whitetails all-time in the B&C record book. 

With the panel score finally done, Schroeder admits he’s still a bit awed. “I mean, I knew the buck was huge when I found him, but I really didn’t appreciate how big he was until a friend clued me in to just what I might have,” he laughed. “Suddenly the 60-day drying period seemed like forever, and I was worried something might happen to the rack. But now that that’s done, it’s just fun to share him with other people, so they can appreciate what an amazing buck he was.”