Dream Bucks: Your Trophy Deer Photos From the 2005 Hunting Season

Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Travis Loew
Score: 1852/8 B&C; official
Rusk County, Wis.
November 19, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
My grandpa-“we called him Eagle Eye because he’d always see stuff that me and my five brothers missed-“had died just a few weeks before the season opened. He was only 73, and we’d always hunted together. It’s a big deal in our family. But it was different this year, sadder, not having him around. Back in September, when my brother and I were trimming brush on the family farm in the Blue Hills region, we saw this buck. He jumped a fence and stood looking at us from 15 yards away, just a tall, perfect main-frame 10. On the opening morning of gun season, we’d gotten 4 inches of snow, and the weather was overcast and not too windy. I hadn’t seen much that morning, so in the afternoon, I got my climber and set up on a ridge. But it just didn’t feel right. I got down after about five minutes, walked down a trail and over some runways, and set up on another oak ridge overlooking some popple slash where the deer like to bed. I figured they’d come feed in the evening. By 3:30 I hadn’t seen anything and was starting to doubt myself. Then I heard some distant gunshots and saw movement in the slash. I put my scope on it but lost the deer. Then I saw a buck going away into the popple, so I grunted. Nothing. I grunted again and he stopped. I grunted a third time, and he turned my way. And then he was moving toward me. I mean fast, you know, deliberate, head-down walking, like he wanted a fight. But it was thick, and all I saw was bits of antler. He stopped 60 yards out, behind a blowdown. By then, I’d seen a couple of tall tines on his right side, just for a split second. I’m pretty selective about what I shoot. But I’ve been hunting since I was 12, so I can judge deer, and I knew this was a good one. I get shaky just talking about it. I put the crosshairs on him where his neck and shoulders came together and squeezed. He went down. And then I was so shaky I could hardly make my climber work. I walked up on him with my gun ready, and all I could see was antlers. The size almost scared me. I let out a holler and shot three times in the air to let my brother know. I nearly had tears in my eyes. My brother and I dragged him out and got him into the truck. And then I called Grandma, because we kids always showed our deer to Grandpa first. And I said, “Grandma, I got a big buck and wanted to let you know first. Eagle Eye must have sent this one to me.-¿ And right then I was pretty sure Grandpa was looking down with a big smile. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Joel Henry, of Montana, took this monster mule deer with an offhand shot last year after surprising it while he was still-hunting. “The wind came up around 10:30, from the west, and it was blowing pretty hard,” he said. “The woods got loud and the hunting got harder. I saw four muley does but they spooked far out through the woods from me and bounced off quickly. Had one of them been a world-record buck, I couldn’t have shot him.” “I switched back to the west side of the ridge where the snow was deeper, the wind calmer, and conditions much better for slow still-hunting. That’s when things got really exciting. “I was behind a big old Douglas fir stump, with the roots in front of me, so I couldn’t see too far in front of me. When I came out from behind the stump I saw three sets of smoking-fresh tracks just a few feet in front of me. “When I looked to my right, the direction the tracks came from, I saw between two small trees this huge deer with equally big antlers. He had his head down, smelling fresh deer tracks like a beagle tracking a rabbit. He was very close, and I am sure he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. “Things happened fast. He turned and took off in a big hurry, quartering away from me from right to left. I pulled up my gun, found an opening, and when his shoulder hit the opening I squeezed the trigger. The next thing I saw was an explosion of snow and deer just beyond that opening in the trees.” “When I walked up to him I about lost my breath. His antlers were big – heavy, wide, and tall – but it was the size of the deer that took me. Obviously I had taken a steer impersonating a mule deer buck.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Steve Daines and his 15-year-old son, David, took these two big bucks, one mule deer and one whitetail, in November while hunting the rut in eastern Montana. “We were putting the sneak on David’s whitetail buck and a group of does with fawns when they suddenly spooked and ran several hundred yards.¿¿ We thought we had caused the spook, but then saw that a coyote had run through the middle of the herd, spooking the fawns,” said Steve. “After two hours of waiting the big buck out he finally followed a hot doe into a draw, putting us in position to get a shot. During that time we saw that buck chase off two smaller bucks who had come to challenge him.”¿¿ Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
T.J. Heald
Score: 1697/8 B&C; official
Kent County, Mich.
November 28, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
I’d never seen this buck myself, but he was a local legend. My grandma had a newspaper photo of him on her refrigerator from an article about deer getting out of control in Wyoming township. On the second to last day of gun season, I was hunting our farm, which is right on the border between two townships, Byron Center and Wyoming. You can’t hunt in the city of Wyoming. And last year they put a street along the border, right through the middle of the farm. So you have to see the deer, because you’re not going to hear them over the road noise. I’d hunted the bow season and missed an 8-pointer, just shot over him. I’d also hunted a week in Iowa with about 20 buddies and whiffed. So I wasn’t too psyched by this point. It seemed like everything was against me. And it was nasty weather-“drizzly, with 25-mph winds. But I had the day off and figured seeing nothing in the woods was better than watching TV. I set up around 4 p.m. in my usual bow stand, a wooden platform in a huge lone apple tree by a cornfield. But it was blowing so hard, I knew I’d fall out if I had to let go to raise my Mossberg 20-gauge. So I came down to still-hunt. I got to a dried-up swamp nearby, and I saw a doe and fawn take off, but I could tell it wasn’t me that had scared them. A few seconds later, this buck stepped out from some deadfall and brush 40 yards away. He took a couple of steps, turned, and looked at me. I saw antlers and a good spread quartering toward me. The only shot I had was at the chest, and I hit high, in the neck. He buckled, then took off running. My buddy Mike Hielkema was hunting 150 yards away, and he helped me track the buck. By eight it was dark, and our flashlights were giving out. We borrowed some from another farmhouse, but they were weak, too. So we were on our hands and knees. The deer had crossed that border street, gone down into a bowl, and up a hill. And we were crawling, looking for blood, and suddenly we look up and there’s a streetlight shining on this rack. It’s huge and sort of glowing in the light. Unbelievable mass. And I thought, Holy cow, I’ve just shot the local legend. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Brad Calvert hunted this Casey County, Kentucky buck for two years before bringing him down with a bow last November. The deer took fifth place for a typical bow kill in the state with a score of 176 4/8. “I harvested this deer after 2 hard years. I had his sheds, trail camera photos of him, and I finally caught up with him on Nov. 5, 2005. My fianc¿¿e was with me hunting that morning and I felt very blessed to have her there with me when this happened.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Richard Jenkins
Score: 153 unofficial
St. Mary’s County, Md.
December 5, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
I’ve been hunting this one farm between a marsh and the St. Mary’s River in southern Maryland for about 20 years. It’s been my luck that I never get the big ones. I’ve brought a lot of friends who’ve gotten nice bucks here, but I was starting to feel like a guide. It was cold and snowing pretty good this day. I got on stand at about 2:20 and just started blowing on my hands to keep warm. I was 100 yards back in the woods, near a grainfield with some oaks and pines that had been downed in a hurricane. I said to myself, Well, you’ve hunted all this time. Sometime or another those deer have got to come through here. After a while, a doe showed up and raised her head. There were deer fighting in the distance. It sounded like it was behind me, but it was hard to tell with the snow falling. So I just sat there. I didn’t want to turn around. Then I heard something coming up from behind. I thought it was a squirrel. I cut my eyes left and there he was, 10 yards away. All I knew was that he was really wide racked. That’s all I wanted to know. He stopped. My heart was hammering and I was shaking so hard that I was sure he’d spot me. Maybe having all that snow on me saved me. I was only 10 feet up in a ladder stand, my shotgun still in my lap. I didn’t want to look at him. I closed my eyes. And after a minute I squinted my left eye open, and he was still there but looking away. So I started to shoulder my gun and had it halfway up when he looked right at me. I froze again, and he must have stared at me for three minutes. And I could barely hold the gun. I was shaking and saying, Rich, you’d better calm down or he’s gonna run. And then I heard another deer coming. That’s what saved me. He turned his head and grunted. I got the gun up and pulled the trigger. And he just fell over backward. And the weird thing was, the buck he’d grunted at never ran away. It came up and nudged him and backed up and kept grunting at him before it finally left. They must have been fighting. When I calmed down, I called my daughter and my brother. They came and helped me down, and we walked over to that big 9-pointer. And my eyes just glowed. I get a lot of pleasure from putting friends on deer. But it’s nice knowing how it feels to get the big one yourself. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Larry Kauffman
Score: 2052/8 B&C; official
Washington County, Iowa
November 18, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
I was hunting on a private farm where I help out when I first saw this deer at about 10:30 on November 5. At a distance and through binoculars, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing, if you know what I mean. And I’ve been hunting for 40 years. After that, I hunted every day from the fifth to the 10th, from dark to dark. Longer, actually. I’d get into the woods a couple of hours before first light and sleep at the base of a tree to keep from spooking the deer going in. I saw him again on the 10th. He came in from behind me, 13, 14 yards away. I tried to turn around but spooked a doe, and she took him with her. I was just in agony after that. I’d blown a chance at a world-class deer. But I kept hunting. Finally, eight days later, we got a strong west wind, just right for a stand I’d placed along an east-west gully. It was chilly when I moved into it at 1 p.m. About 4:15, I looked down the creek and saw him moving toward me. He got to about 50 yards away and was real excited by the scent of a hot doe that had come through earlier. I hit my grunt a couple of times, and he came closer, into brush about 30 yards off. I didn’t even want to look at those antlers once I knew it was him. Five minutes passed, and the wind died a bit, and I know he must have caught a whiff of me, because he raised his nose and bobbed his head. And I was sure he was going to turn and run. But then, from up over a creek bank where he couldn’t see, came the grunt of a buck following a doe. He heard it, so I knew he was about to cross the creek, and I drew. He was broadside at 25 yards when he stopped, and I drilled him. He didn’t go another 30 yards. I’m usually meticulous with my pack and bow hanger and rattling antlers, but I think I just threw everything out of the stand. Then I climbed down real slow and careful, because I didn’t want to die coming down. I called my best friend, who drove 35 miles in about 20 minutes. And the two of us just stared at that deer for about an hour. You want to know something strange? I almost hope I never see a deer that big again. Because bucks like that are so rare that when you see one, when you’re given that opportunity, you feel like you have an obligation to put every bit of effort into hunting it that you can muster. It’s a marathon. I’m an experienced hunter. I’ve been at it a long time. And I did my part in making that shot. But you don’t get a deer like that without being lucky. Nobody does. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Caroline Mifsud
11 years old
Score: 1625/8 B&C; official
Guernsey County, Ohio
October 9, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
Caroline: We’d been shopping at the big mall near Columbus, and after we got home my mom went out hunting by herself. She was gone for about two hours. Kathy Bartunek (Caroline’s mom): I was. I sort of snuck out, I admit it. But I came home because I didn’t really like being alone. Caroline: So I was just, like, waiting for her in my hunting clothes when she came in. I really wanted to go. And I said, “Take me out. You won’t regret it.-¿ I had a feeling we’d see some deer. So we went to a double ladder stand over a food plot, some clover we’d planted on this piece of land we have that’s about 75 acres. I had my Horton crossbow-“I hunt with that or a 20-gauge-“and it was 4:30 by then, a pretty warm day, maybe 60 degrees or so. After about 20 minutes, we saw two does, but then it was quiet again. About 10 minutes later, my mom goes, “Holy crap!-¿ Bartunek: Actually, I’m afraid I said something worse than that. Caroline: Yeah, you did. And she pointed out this huge deer that my stepsister, Jenna-“she’s 12-“had seen two days earlier, only it had been too far away to shoot. And we waited and waited and he finally came up. I was shaking so bad my mom had to, like, sit on me. It was hilarious. I was going crazy. And he was no more than 15 yards away. Bartunek: The deer came from my left, and Caroline was on my right. We were running out of light, and she knows I won’t let her shoot if it isn’t legal. I’m always telling her, “No iffy shots.-¿ And suddenly this deer is broadside, and I’m still trying to process it mentally. It wasn’t even the rut yet. And I’m getting ready to tell her all this, but it’s too late because Caroline had already taken the shot. Caroline: I really like to hunt, and I had a good shot. At first we couldn’t find the arrow, then we found half of it covered in blood. He’d kicked it after the shot. But we’d never really followed a blood trail before. This is only the third deer I’ve killed. So we got my stepdad, and we didn’t find the buck until dark, even though he only went about 80 yards. He was a big, fat deer, with 10 points, and he weighed 200 pounds dressed and skinned. I was in the newspaper, and now I’m on the Division of Wildlife website. And I know the boys at school are jealous, because they told me. I was a little worried that Jenna would be mad because she’d seen that deer first. I think she’s forgiven me. And, anyway, I know there’s a bigger one out there on our property. I’m definitely hunting next year. Chris Mueller
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Larry Porter took this 13-point, 175-pound buck with a 50-caliber muzzleloader in Weakley County, Tennesee. “Most people hunt for food here, and with all the hunting pressure a deer rarely lives past his second birthday. Finding a Boone & Crockett trophy deer in Weakley County is like finding a needle in a haystack. But I had joined a deer hunting club this year with some of my buddies, and this would be my first time to hunt the new property. “It was 4:00 p.m. and I had an hour and a half to hunt. The thought ran through my mind that I’m just wasting my time, but I told myself let’s just enjoy being out in the woods and sit here until dark. An hour went by and all I’d seen were two squirrels. With no deer activity I decided it couldn’t hurt anything to try my old grunt call. I’m not a professional grunter by any means, so what happened next left me in disbelief, as in my 40 years of hunting I’ve never seen anything like it. “This monster buck bolted from a thicket looking for a fight, and he was heading right at me. It happened so quick that when the buck stopped he was at 75 yards and I hadn’t even had time to get my gun ready. I have a scope on my muzzleloader, but it didn’t take any kind of optics to tell this boy was a shooter. I managed to get my gun up and get my sights on him, and when he stopped at 60 yards I pulled the trigger. I couldn’t see a thing for a couple of seconds, but when the smoke cleared all I could see were antlers. Big antlers like I’ve never seen before. “It was the nicest deer that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I’ve never been a big believer in using a grunt call, but after this hunt I will never be caught without one again.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Don Pestun, of Apache, Oklahoma, took this buck on November 20 last year. “I was actually taking a leak and fixing to put my backpack on when I first saw him,” he said. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Trevor Tomlin
Score: 15-point buck, currently unscored
Champagne County, Ohio
November 28, 2005 As told to Bill Heavey:
We live in Maryland but go hunting on my grandma’s farm in Ohio each year after Thanksgiving. My uncles were there, too, but they didn’t want to hunt the farm because they thought there weren’t any deer there. So Dad and my cousin and I hunted it opening day of gun season. My ladder stand is in a lonely tree, the only one in the middle of a big beanfield. I had my muzzleloader-“just one shot, like in the old days. It’s more authentic, more of a challenge. But I also have a red-dot sight on it. So it’s both old-fashioned and high-tech, I guess. After an hour, a fawn and a big doe came out into the field 80 yards from Dad. And they were crossing the field when a big buck came out. I counted 4 tines on one side, so I knew it was at least an 8, and it had a tall rack. I tried to whistle at it, to make it look at me so I could get a better shot. That works with squirrels. It makes them curious. I had the gun on the wrong side of the tree, so I waited until it started to feed and moved the gun a little each time. He was about 50 yards away. He looked at me a couple of times, then started feeding again. I finally got the gun up and put the scope on him and shot. And he took seven or eight steps and went down. When Dad and I got over to him, we saw that there were 4 points on one side and 7 on the other, and drop tines and little spikes all over. We counted 15 points and estimated a 22-inch spread. And it field dressed at 220 pounds. We showed it to my uncles, and they couldn’t believe it. At first they congratulated my dad, who doesn’t have the greatest luck, on finally getting a big buck. But he said, “No, Trevor got it.-¿ See, Dad has been hunting for about 25 years and only has one buck. And this was already my second, because I got one the first time we ever went out. He forgets stuff a lot and then bums it from his brothers. Like one year, he forgot ammo and had to borrow some. And another time he had his sights on a 12-pointer and the gun wouldn’t fire. So he lowered it, and the ball rolled out. He’d put a .45-caliber ball in his .50-caliber muzzleloader. So I think he’s proud of me and a little bummed at the same time, you know? But, I tell you, now everybody wants to hunt Grandma’s farm next year. Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Edward Heine of Clarksville, Iowa took this unusual buck on the first day of the 2004 shotgun season. “The taxidermist (Kingery Taxidermy of Marble Rock, Iowa) did a very good job preserving the velvet,” he said. “Approximately 80-90 percent of the velvet remains on the antlers.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Alex Sokolic took this strangely-racked whitetail buck in Coahuila, Mexico with a bow. It was the only 3rd-beamed buck he’s ever seen, and scored a 147 (P&Y;). Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Kyle Knutson, of Perham, Minn., shot this 225-pound whitetail while hunting some farmland near a swamp in Minnesota’s Becker County. “That afternoon I walked through the neighbor’s field to the property corner and got up in the stand,” he said. “It has shooting lanes down each fence line overlooking some low land with woods directly in front of and behind me. After letting things settle a bit, I left the stand to place some scent wicks and drip a trail along one of those lanes, then climbed back into the tree. Things were quiet for about an hour and a half, then a buck appeared. “I raised my .300 and scoped him. The antlers looked decent. He was a ways out over a swamp, about 250 yards, but he dropped with the first shot. “I didn’t realize the size of the antlers until I got up to him. When my friend Ben and I finally got him out of the field and into the truck we were exhausted. He weighed 225-pounds when we registered him that evening. It was a great hunting experience.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
Colton Camp, of San Saba County, Texas, took this buck on opening morning of the state’s youth weekend season after watching it fight off another buck for the attentions of a nearby doe. “We sat in amazement as the two deer rattled horns, threw dirt, and spun each other around,” said Colton’s father, David. “The eight point finally got an advantage and pushed the six about twenty yards backward down the fence row, then spun him to the ground. The proud buck slowly returned to the doe, and my son tracked him with his .308.-¿ Field & Stream Online Editors
Your Biggest Bucks of 2005
11-year-old Adrian Cassidy, of Orleans, Indiana, took this nice 8-point buck on November 26 of last year. Adrian has been hunting with his dad since he was 2 years old. “There really isnt an exciting story to tell about my deer,” he said, “but I did want to tell you how much I enjoy hunting!” “My mom got me a subscription to Field & Stream and I like to read it a lot. I even take it to school to read when the teachers let me. I’m not sure, but I think I like hunting better than girls.” Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors