High school student Lynzi Becker tagged a 200-plus-inch mule deer on opening day of the Nebraska firearms deer season. Lynzi, 17, was hunting with her dad, Art Becker, of Cozad, Nebraska, on their annual lease when they spot-and-stalked the giant 10×10 nontypical mule deer.

Lynzi has been hunting with her father for five years and credits him with putting her in a position to harvest a buck every year. “He’s extra careful because I’m not so careful,” she says with a laugh. “He just kind of leads the way and helps me scope the deer out, and then he always lets me have the first shot.”

Opening Day Magic

young female hunter takes grip-and-grin with big mule deer buck
The muley rough scored in the 215- to 220-inch range after deductions. Lynzi Becker

Early on the morning of November 13, Lynzi and Art had seen several decent whitetails. But a few minutes later, they spotted the big muley 900 yards away in a cut cornfield with a group of does. “There was nothing but open ground between us and them,” Art explains. “They probably spotted us at that distance, but we stayed far enough away that they didn’t spook.”

The duo waited for the deer to drop into a canyon before setting off on a long stalk. The deer were to the southwest and the wind was coming out of the west, so Lynzi and Art headed south until they hit the canyon. “We had to guess how far into the canyon he’d go, and when we decided we were far enough south, we walked straight west to intersect the buck,” Art says.

But when they looked into the canyon, there were no deer in sight. After glassing carefully for a couple of minutes, Art caught a hint of movement: the flick of a doe’s ear. The deer had already bedded down in the trees. As Art and Lynzi watched, a doe stood up and moved into the open, and the big buck soon followed.

Art ranged the muley at 227 yards and gave his daughter the go-ahead. “I was pretty excited, but I was just trying to calm my nerves so I wasn’t shaking too much,” she says. “I tried to slow my breathing so that my hand was steady.” Then she took the shot.

The Buck’s Antlers Seemed to Grow As They Walked Up to It

lynzi becker poses with big buck
Lynzi and her father were shocked when they finally got to the buck. Lynzi Becker

When Lynzi and Art walked up on the buck, they realized how massive the rack actually was. “We knew it was a shooter, but it was not until we were probably 20 yards away that we could see how many points were really on it,” Lynzi says. “We just looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ The body was really big, the rack was wide, and there were just points everywhere.”

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Estimates put the nontypical buck’s score in the 215- to 220-inch range after deductions—not that it matters all that much to Lynzi or her dad. “I just focus on having fun and taking it all in more than trying to get the biggest buck ever,” Lynzi says.

“We make it about family time and enjoying the outdoors,” adds Art. “Those are some of the greatest times right there.”