The Best Bucks of October 2020
The vagaries of the tenth month didn’t stop these hunters from taking world-class deer, including at least three 200-plus-inch bucks
Sure, October exists in that netherworld sandwiched between the excitement of the early-fall opener and the November rut. And you bet this month can be tough sledding, with wildly variable temperatures and weather conditions, changing food sources, the so-called “lull,” and increased pressure of upland and small-game hunters. But if you’re the sort who tends to ignore October for all of these reasons, check out the bucks killed last month by the hunters below. You might decide to change up your game plan for next fall. Trust us, when it comes to whopper bucks, October is plenty good.
Buck #1 Holy “Moses” Monster
Think you need a huge property to tag a slammer whitetail? Tell that to Dan Blevins, who killed this giant on a 3-acre tract in Lake County, Ohio, that he purchased last year. “I named this buck ‘Amos Moses’ after the Jerry Reed song, and I actually missed him the year before, when he was 4½ years old,” Blevins says. “October 24th was our waterfowl opener. I’m an avid duck hunter, and I shot a limit of ducks in the morning. Then I went deer hunting on my place in the afternoon, and shot this buck at 11 steps with my crossbow. So, it was pretty much a perfect day.” Blevins’ buck had 20 scoreable points, an inside spread of 16½ inches, and green grossed 238-3/4 B&C.
Buck #2: Minnesota Mass
Jonnie Koenen’s father bought a hunting property three years ago near their home in Minnesota, and they started getting pics of this buck in that first season. On a snowy afternoon this October 25th, Koenen was overlooking standing soybeans when he noticed a doe and fawn walking into the plot. “The doe kept peering back, so I looked behind her with my binoculars and saw the buck. Before entering the plot, the deer made a scrape and then leaped at the fawn and pushed her off a bit.” Although the huge buck was in bow range, it stood facing Koenen for nearly 5 minutes, never giving him a shot. “Finally, he moved back behind some brush in the plot as the doe and fawn moved into the woods to my left. He then made another scrape and started to run for the doe and fawn.” Koenen stopped the buck at 35 yards and made the shot. The massive 6×4 was at least 5½ years old.
Buck #3: Public Buckeye Brute
Indiana bowhunter Landin Hall started his 2020 deer season hunting his home turf, but then he decided a change of plans was in order. “I contacted a good buddy in Ohio, and he told me about a local world-class deer they’d seen running in and out of a small piece of public ground. I used my OnX maps to pinpoint saddles and points I wanted to hunt.” The next morning, on the 23rd of October, Hall drove to southern Ohio and was in a stand that afternoon. “At around 5:45, I heard a very deep grunt, more like a roar, and I grabbed my bow. When I saw his rack, I thought I was dreaming. He started walking away so I grunted and bleated to him but he didn’t even budge.” Finally, Hall snort-wheezed and the buck turned and started walking to the downwind side of his treestand. “I was freaking out because I didn’t want him to bust me.” As the deer walked behind a tree that Hall had ranged at 40 yards, the hunter drew his bow. “I tried stopping him with a mouth bleat, but he didn’t stop, so I said ‘Hey!’” The brute stopped and Hall made good on the shot. When he climbed down and saw the buck’s rack, he couldn’t believe it. “I dropped everything I had and fell onto the deer. I knew I’d just done something amazing.”
Buck #4: Kentucky Colossus
If you like a jumble of tines, look no further than this awesome whitetail killed by Kentucky bowhunter Brian Davenport. While the 5-point right side is nice and clean, the left decided to go a little crazy, which I’m sure caused Mr. Davenport to not hesitate one second when it came time to pick up his bow. Davenport actually arrowed his buck back on September 24th, but we only found out about it last week, so he gets a spot in our October roundup, with this incredible 203-inch nontypical.
Buck #5: Second-Chance Trophy
Mark Luster has killed some great bucks over the years, but an Iowa giant he named “Zeus” escaped him last fall. “I had a shot at him in 2019, but my arrow hit a honeysuckle limb and wounded the animal,” he says. “Thankfully, he made it through and grew an even bigger rack this year.” On October 28th, Luster spotted the buck on a ridge opposite his stand. “I rattled, and he came running in. I’ve been getting trail-cam pics of this buck for the last two years, so I know him pretty well. But even with that, he seemed to get bigger and bigger when I walked up on him.” Zeus grosses 204-6/8 as a typical, and nets 188-6/8.
Buck #6: Wait-For-It Whopper
Brett Schmit is a veteran Minnesota whitetail hunter, but it took him a few seasons to figure out his dream buck. “In 2017, he was a 3½-year-old, 140-class buck,” Schmit recalls. “The next year I had a ton of pics of him, but I never once laid eyes on that buck, and it was the same thing last fall. It was driving me crazy.” This year, Schmit decided to get a little more aggressive with camera placement and finally figured out that the buck largely confined his movements to a small, thick chuck of woods that didn’t have many other deer. “I knew sitting there was going be torture, because I wasn’t going to see many, if any, deer except for him.” But on Halloween morning, he slipped in, got settled, and spotted the buck out in some CRP. “I rattled, and he turned to face me, then took a few steps my way. I was thinking Here we go when a 145-inch 9-point moved in between us. I was sure this smaller buck would bust me and end it, but he came in, caught my scent, and ran out the other way so the big one couldn’t see.” Schmit hit the horns again and the big buck came trotting in to 25 yards, where the hunter stopped him and made a good shot. “I knew he was big, but putting my hands on him was something else.” Schmit’s buck had 6½-inch bases, 14-inch G2s, and grossed 194 typical.
Bucks #7 and #8: October Double
Whitetail expert Mark Drury has battled through some tough Octobers in his 40-year hunting career, but this wasn’t one of them. An extended cold front combined with high-pressure systems made for such ideal conditions that Drury was able to kill two of the best bucks of his life. “On October 15, camera-man Wade Robinson and I were setting up in a blind on a food plot, and we looked up as a giant buck we knew well—we called him ‘BW’ for big-and-wide—was standing up in the CRP next to the plot and staring right at the blind. He got nervous and trotted off. But with perfect conditions the next day, we decided to stay aggressive, and he came out to the same plot. This was the biggest-framed buck I’ve ever hunted and he scored 180-4/8. Only four days later we were set up on another huge buck, one that was harder to figure out. We called him ‘The Crooked One,’ and he was the largest typical I’ve ever hunted. After not having much information on this buck for a while, he showed up on a scrape in early October, then disappeared. On October 15, he showed up on another scrape, a mile-and-a-half away. Again, we had perfect conditions, so we got really aggressive and set up on this new scrape and amazingly, he showed up and I was able to kill him. The Crooked One was 6½ years old and scored 200-2/8. I’ve never seen hunting this good in October.”
Buck #9: Trophy Trifecta
Don Higgins is no stranger to this space; we’ve covered at least two of his giant Illinois bucks in the past. But with the addition of “Mel”, the Prairie State monster he killed on October 30th, Higgins entered some pretty rarefied air, becoming one of only a handful of hunters who’ve killed three 200-plus-inch bucks. “I first encountered this buck in 2017, when he was only 1½ years old,” Higgins says. “I usually don’t pay that much attention to a yearling buck, but this one had ten points already, so he was special. The next year, as a 2½-year-old, he was a 12-point that probably scored 160. He was the biggest, wild 2-year-old I’d ever seen. As a 3½-year-old, he was a legitimate 200-inch buck, and I actually had the chance to kill him and passed. Going into this season, I faced a real dilemma; I knew he could get bigger, but I also knew he ranged far away from my farm and other guys were after him. I also knew he was a fighter, and that the chance of him getting through the season without breaking off tines or a beam was low. So, I decided that if I had a chance to shoot him and his rack was clean, I’d do it. On the morning of October 30th, all of that came together.” To hear more about this incredible buck and watch Don’s footage of the hunt, visit realworldoutdoors.com or Don’s YouTube channel.
Bucks #10 and #11: Sooner Two-For
Whitetail Properties Land Specialist Rustin Hayes was featured in a roundup last fall, and he’s back for a return appearance, this time with a pair of dandies he took in a four-day span. “I shot my archery buck on the morning of October 20th,” he says. “The buck had 10-1/2 and 9-1/2-inch brow tines, and just the trash around his bases measured 18 inches. I had his gross green score at 167-7/8. The muzzleloader buck was one I knew well and have chased hard over the years. The same day I shot the bow buck, this one finally showed up on camera, at 7 a.m. So, on opening day, October 24, I went right in after him and was lucky enough to kill him right away. He scored 167-2/8. It was a pretty special week; it took only two hunts to kill a pair of great Oklahoma bucks!”
Buck #12: Candelabra Buck
Whitetail experts Chad Kenyon and Ted Marum manage several prime properties together, and for the last three years they’ve had their eyes on “Candlesticks,” a heavy-framed typical whose long brow tines made him easy to spot. Kenyon was hunting in the wheelhouse of this Iowa giant on October 28th, when Candlesticks wandered into bow range. The 5½-year-old 6×6 grossed 186.
Buck #13: Monster Muley
Deep forks, tons of mass, and a huge frame make this a muley to remember for Jesse Burch. No word yet on where the hunter took this incredible buck or what it scores, as we are still trying to track down details.
Buck #14: Baby Booner
Drury Outdoors’s Dawn Jensen gave birth to her first baby this year, but the happy new mom wasn’t giving up her time in the deer woods. Dawn and husband/cameraman Beau headed to a food plot on their Iowa farm on the state’s archery opener with hopes of spotting a buck they knew well. “We called him ‘Tex’s Buddy’ because he hung out with another buck we’d named Tex,” Jensen says. “He didn’t appear on camera until just before the season started. But with cool weather and high pressure on opening day, we arranged for a babysitter and headed out. We saw several deer as the evening wore on, but a couple of does spooked and blew and cleared the field. We decided to hang tight, and it wasn’t long before a couple of young bucks appeared. Then Beau spotted movement, and it was Tex’s Buddy. There were quite a few tense moments, but he finally worked into range and I made the shot.” Jensen’s 11-point buck sported 14-inch tines and is her largest buck to date.
Buck #15: Towering Typical
Don Kisky of Whitetail Freaks TV has been tagging whopper Iowa whitetails for decades, and this gorgeous, tall-tined typical continues the hunter’s legacy. We don’t know much about this beautiful buck just yet, except that Kisky recently posted this photo Instagram and that the deer’s long beams and tines should push it well into Booner territory—and then some.