Early-Season Success: 10 Photos of Giant, Velvet Bucks

cartwright buck, velvet buck, record buck
Early deer seasons are less than a month away across much of whitetail country. These late-summer hunts offer the opportunity for hunters to take a classic trophy: a mature whitetail buck in velvet. So, we hunted down 10 great velvet bucks to get you excited for the early season (as if you needed any more motivation). Thad Cartwright
Kentucky
September 3, 2012
Score: 283 5/8
Cartwright missed this buck as a 160-class 10-pointer in 2011, then figured it was a goner after another hunter wounded it. Not only did the buck survive, it came back bigger and better than ever in 2012, sporting a freakish rack that was already pushing 200 inches in midsummer trail camera photos. When the 20-year-old University of Kentucky student finally got a shot on the third day of the archery season—from his favorite "money tree" stand—the buck was packing a 50-point rack that set a new Buckmasters world record. See the full story of Cartwright's record buck here.
Chris Warren
Minnesota
September 15, 2014
Score: 240 (unofficial)
While claims that this Winona County deer would set a new state record were overblown, there’s no arguing that Warren’s early season archery kill was among the best bucks taken during the 2014 Minnesota season, velvet or hard horn. Warren reported the green score of his “truly once-in-a-lifetime buck” as 240 inches. There are are still plenty of rumors about this buck, and as far as we can tell, it's official score has not yet been reported.
Stan Potts
_Kentucky
September 2011
Score: 197 4/8 _ You might think a TV personality like Potts, who hunts prime spots in multiple states every year, would have checked the Big Velvet box on his bucket list early in his 40-plus-year hunting career. But, no, the effervescent host of “Matthews’ Dominant Bucks” and “Hunt Masters” didn’t drop his first velvet until 2011. After getting trail camera shots of the Kentucky giant, Potts studied aerial photos to pinpoint a likely feeding area: A small, secluded green field surrounded by timber. Then he sweated out a 10-minute wait with the buck at 20 yards before it finally turned broadside. Hoo-boy: Give us a second.
Nicholas Brumley
Kentucky
September 5, 2010
Score: 185 1/8
August trail cam photos showed a 16-point typical walking a ridge on a predictable pattern: “He showed up morning and evening like clockwork to munch acorns,” Brumley says, “except once a week he moved after dark.” When opening day brought plenty of deer but no 16-pointer, Brumley feared he’d spooked the buck—until he downloaded trail camera photos on day two that showed the deer passing 15 minutes after he’d left his stand the night before. “That’s when I knew he’d used his once-a-week night move,” Brumley says. When the buck showed that afternoon, he drilled him at 17 yards.
velvet buck, giant buck, bowhunting
Andrew Clark
Kentucky
September 4, 2011
Score: 171 6/8
Clark spotted this big nontypical while walking fields with the landowner on an 85-acre farm he’d never hunted, and he even managed to snap a cell phone photo of the bruiser. After suffering through a 100-degree opening day, Clark caught a break when a cold front dropped temperatures into the 60s on day two. He spotted the buck at 4:30 p.m., and watched it pop in and out of the woods for two hours until it reappeared 20 yards from his stand, silhouetted by the setting sun. “I’d never seen anything like it,” Clark recalls. “I had the distinct advantage of being in the right place twice.”
wyoming record buck, velvet buck, giant buck
Shane Sanderson
Wyoming
September 1, 2012
Score: 170 3/8
Sanderson shot this velvet buck on his family ranch in Kinnear on opening day after glassing it for a full month. That extensive scouting let him pick a perfect spot for a ground blind, near a corner the buck was using to enter a grass field where it was staging with other bucks before hitting a nearby alfalfa stand. Though it was his first velvet buck in 13 years of bowhunting, Sanderson elected to strip the velvet in order to get the rack scored by Pope & Young—and it earned him the Wyoming record for typical whitetail deer.
Chris Currin
North Carolina
September 9, 2015
Score: 155 7/8 Currin arrowed this 11-pointer while sitting on a dove stool at the edge of a bean field that he knew a large group of bachelor bucks frequented. Six smaller bucks preceded the 155 into the field, and Currin had to pass on his first opportunity when a smaller deer blocked his shot; then one of the young bachelors blew at Currin, scattering every buck off the field—except the big one. Currin was fortunate to connect on his shot, which flew under the buck’s belly and clipped an artery on the opposite leg after the buck turned to flee just as Currin released.
velvet buck, giant buck, kansas buck
Hannah Anello Kansas September 9, 2014 Score: 154 3/8 Extensive pre-season target practice on a life-size cardboard deer target helped 13-year-old Anello make a tough shot on a quartering-to giant the second day of the Kansas youth season. Hunting with her father, Tim Anello, co-host of the “Inside Outdoors” TV show, Hannah watched the buck feed at the edge of a timber clearing for 30 minutes without turning broadside. Tim pulled up a photo of the target on his phone to review exactly where she should aim, and Hannah made a 90-yard shot with a Remington .308 that dropped the 8-pointer in its tracks.
south carolina buck, big buck, velvet buck
Tanner Herndon
_South Carolina
August 20, 2013
Score: 147 _ Massive by South Carolina standards, this 240-pound buck fell to 12-year-old Herndon’s .243 in a lowcountry peanut field on day five of the deer season. Hunting with his father in a ground blind, Herndon had actually spotted the buck two days earlier but decided to pass up an uncertain shot. Tanner’s dad, Harley Herndon, reported breathing so hard that his binoculars fogged up, but Tanner was able to keep his composure as the 9-pointer walked toward him after stepping out of a standing corn field 120 yards away.
Lane Cox
Louisiana
October 6, 2013
Score: 147 7/8
When Gnarls—a buck Cox and a hunting buddy nicknamed for his gnarly 9-point rack—showed up near their ground blind during a morning hunt, the 19-year-old Louisiana Tech student was holding a video camera. His buddy pointed out the buck that they’d been following on trail cams, but the big 240-pound deer left before Cox could swap his camera for a bow. When Gnarls showed up a second time that evening, Cox was again filming, but this time he managed to grab his bow in time to drop the velvet bruiser.