The Rut Club: Four Huge Bucks Tagged by Readers

Our readers tagged some huge bucks on last year’s Best Days. So we dropped in at the homes and camps of four to hear their stories and help show off their trophies.

Our readers tagged some huge bucks on last year’s Best Days. So we dropped in at the homes and camps of four to hear their stories and help show off their trophies.

big bucks, hunting, deer
✖ THE FROST GIANT ✖ Hunter: Shawn McDonough ✖ Location: Buffalo County, Wis.
✖ Score: 1943⁄8" gross B&C ✖ Date: Nov. 7, 2014

First McDonough's cousin missed the buck in 2012, when it was a 160-class 3-year-old. "His arrow nipped a branch and sailed off," says McDonough. Then McDonough almost put his tag on the giant in 2013. "He chased a doe right past my stand—at just 10 yards—but I couldn't get him stopped." So, heading to the same area around 11 a.m. on a blustery, cold Nov. 7, 2014, McDonough knew exactly what deer he was after. But by 3 p.m. he hadn't seen a thing. "Then it started to sleet, and the wind began whipping like crazy. I decided it was time to bail." As he reached for his quiver to attach it and lower his bow, he glanced at a trail behind him. “There he was, standing just 20 yards away, and looking in the opposite direction.” The buck went only 60 yards at the shot and piled up. “It was unbelievable. At three o’clock I was ready to bomb out of the woods. At four I was calling a buddy to help me drag out my dream buck.”
Ackerman + Gruber
big bucks, hunting, deer
✖ THE BOONE-COUNTY BOONER ✖ Hunter: Bo Dylak ✖ Location: Boone County, Ill.
✖ Score: 178" gross B&C ✖ Date: Nov. 22, 2014

Dylak missed the opening day of Illinois's 2014 shotgun season. "My sister is a straight-A student, but I'm not," he says. "So when the opener fell on a Friday, she got to go hunting, and I had to go to school." Come Saturday morning he couldn't wait to get out and asked his dad where he should hunt. "He told me to sit the Meat Stand. It's a good spot to take a doe, and our freezer was empty." When the first doe showed, Dylak got his gun ready. "I was about to shoot when I suddenly spotted a nice buck trailing her." The trophy stopped, but Dylak missed. "He just stood there for a second, trying to figure out where the first shot had come from, and my second one hit him." When Dylak finished the buck with one more shot, it became the first Booner ever taken in Boone County. Back at school on Monday morning, the principal called Dylak to the office. “I thought I was in trouble for sure,” he says. “Turned out, he just wanted to congratulate me on my buck.”
Ackerman + Gruber
big bucks, hunting, deer
✖ THE HALLOWEEN MONSTER ✖ Hunter: Clint De Boer ✖ Location: Gregory County, S.D.
✖ Score: 1873⁄8" gross B&C ✖ Date: Oct. 31, 2014

In 2013, De Boer and his buddies kept seeing a big buck come off the neighbor's property and enter a creekbottom on their farm to bed. "We put him in the 160s," De Boer says. The next spring, he was hanging a stand in the bottom. "I looked down and saw a matched set of sheds not 20 yards away. That's when I knew we'd underestimated the buck in a big way." Come fall De Boer, a professional firefighter, decided he’d wear that stand out until he killed the buck or it moved. By Halloween morning, he’d sat the spot 13 times and was starting to feel burned out. “It was 9 degrees with a brutal wind, and I was freezing my butt off by 9 a.m.” Like ­McDonough, he was almost ready to bail. “Then I looked up, and the buck was walking right to me.” It closed to 11 yards, then looked right up at De Boer. “As he started to walk away, I drew, grunted to stop him, and shot.” It took all he and a friend had to drag the beast out. “We found out why later—he field-dressed at 270 pounds.”
Ackerman + Gruber
big bucks, hunting, deer
✖ THE BACKYARD BRUTE ✖ Hunter: Mike Chamberlain ✖ Location: Washington County, Minn.
✖ Score: 1987⁄8" gross B&C ✖ Date: Nov. 13, 2014

Out raking leaves in his yard one afternoon, Chamberlain looked up to see a huge buck walking by. "I shook my head," he says. "Here I am within bow range of a monster, during archery season, with only a rake in my hands." In his suburban neighborhood, Chamberlain has access to 5 acres but hunts mostly on his own 11⁄2-acre lot. “It’s a perfect pinch point; the deer come off a big park nearby, walk between my neighbor’s house and driveway, and funnel right through the yard.” Which is exactly what the big 13-pointer did on the afternoon of Nov. 13. “When I first saw him, I thought, That deer has a branch stuck on his head.” Then he realized what buck he was looking at. “The rest is a blur. He came in, and I thought I hit him well.” The deer ran a short way but stopped at around 30 yards, wobbling. “By then I’d settled down. I nocked another arrow and made an even better shot. It was the complete opposite of ground shrinkage. The closer I got to him, the bigger he got!”
Ackerman + Gruber