Okay, 2020 was not the best of years. But it wasn’t all bad, especially for hunters. Most of us found more time and a few extra reasons (not that we needed any) to be outdoors. Many of us made the most of it, too, in the form of filled tags. And a very select few—the hunters below—cashed in big with a true buck of a lifetime. I’ll say this for 2020: I don’t think we have ever covered more gross 200-plus-inch bucks than we did this year. Almost all of the deer here fit that description, and the ones that don’t are nearly all 190-class typicals. In other words, the best bucks of 2020 might be the best bucks of any year, ever. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Paslie Werth’s World-Record Whitetail
Let’s start at the top, with Paslie Werth’s new world-record Kansas buck. Werth wasn’t out to set any records when she pulled the trigger on this incredible non-typical buck last September. She was simply enjoying a youth-season deer hunt on a farm owned by her grandparents, and continuing a hunting tradition established by her parents and siblings. But after the mandatory 60-day drying period, her Kansas buck officially measured 271-4/8, making it the Boone and Crockett record book’s highest-scoring non-typical whitetail deer ever killed by a female hunter. You can read the full story of Werth’s world-record buck here.
2. Tanner Neu’s Monster Mule Deer
Tanner Neu was hunting in Saskatchewan on opening day, September 1, when he spotted this colossal velvet buck. Using wind and terrain to his advantage, Neu slipped to within 37 yards and made the shot. The non-typical buck green grossed 246 inches, a score that, if it holds up, could place the buck in the Top 25 velvet non-typical mule deer in the P&Y book.
3. Ryan Berran’s Buckeye Beast
Ryan Berran passed this buck up at point-blank range during the Buckeye State bow season last year. “This year I literally watched him blow up on camera,” he says. “Every time I checked the cards he was making these amazing jumps in antler growth. By the time the opener came, I figured he’d score around 190. But Berran was wrong, in a good way. This fall, when the giant walked into bow range, there was no passing him. Berran shot and the 214-inch whopper crashed within hearing distance. “He snapped off one of his three drop tines,” Berran laments. “We’re still looking for it!”
4. Michael Pulido’s Spot-and-Stalk Stud
Fort Riley is a Kansas military installation known for producing big whitetails. But one of those brutes was no match for Battalion Tank Master Gunner Michael Pulido, who spotted not one, but two giant bucks while hunting from a treestand in late September. Pulido crawled down from the stand and, using wind and cover, slipped toward the bucks. While that stalk didn’t produce a shot, Pulido felt he had the right game plan. “I came right back to the same area the next day and was actually sneaking up on another great buck when this one stepped out,” he says. “Amazingly, he stopped right where I needed him to.” The huge buck has 22 scorable points, 7-inch bases, and green grossed 221 B&C.
5. Darcy Kress’s Next-Level Trophy
For another Saskatchewan monster mule deer, we turn to Darcy Kress (dkressoutdoors). “I’ve dreamed about taking a deer that’s in that ‘next level’…but I’m sure most hunters have,” said Kress in a recent Instagram post. Well, he found just that sort of buck while glassing with his dad this summer, and the pair nicknamed the deer “Ovi”, a buck Kress said “had mass beyond belief and had me shaking every time I saw him.” Finally, on September 13, Kress was able to get on the buck, and after five hours of stalking, arrowed the huge mule deer. No word on this buck’s gross P&Y score, but with over 50-inch of mass measurements, cracking the 200-inch barrier seems like a given.
6. Ryan Alexander’s 200-inch Non-typical
Ryan Alexander, who runs Urban Buckeye Outfitters, knew he was on to a once-in-a-lifetime buck when he set himself up for a 19-yard shot on this towering whitetail. According to his Instagram post, “I watched him wobble and fall at 55 yards. Words can’t describe the feeling when you see that perfectly placed arrow!” The Ohio giant had 20 scorable points and grossed 200-4/8.
7. Dan Blevins’ Holy “Moses” Buck
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. “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 and green grossed 238-3/8 B&C.
8. Brian Davenport’s Bluegrass Beast
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 back on September 24th. The buck grossed 203 inches.
9. Mark Luster’s Gross-200 Typical
Mark Luster had a history with the Iowa giant he named “Zeus.” “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.
10. David Blanton’s Stateside Mega-Muley
Canada deserves all the attention it gets for huge mule deer, but Realtree’s David Blanton proved true trophies can be found south of the border, too. Blanton was hunting with westernlandsoutfitters.com when he encountered this 6-½-year-old mountain monarch in Utah. Blanton made good on the shot with a CVA Cascade in 6.5 Creedmoor, and tagged out on a muley estimated at 206 B&C.
11. Mark Drury’s October Double
An extended cold front combined with high-pressure systems made for such ideal conditions in October that well-known whitetail expert Mark Drury, of Drury Outdoors, was able to kill two of the best bucks of his life. On October 16, Drury connected with great buck his team had named ‘BW’ for big-and-wide. “This was the biggest-framed buck I’ve ever hunted and he scored 180-4/8,” says Drury. Only four days later, he was set up on another huge buck called ‘The Crooked One.” This was the largest typical I’ve ever hunted,” he says. After not having much information on the buck for a while, Drury got aggressive and set up on a scrape the buck was using. “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.”
12. Don Higgins’ Third 200-Inch Whitetail
On October 30th, when Don Higgins tagged an Illinois monster he’d named “Mel,” he became one of only a handful of hunters who’ve killed three 200-plus-inch bucks. “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 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.” You can read the full story of Higgins’ incredible buck here; you can also watch the hunter’s footage of the hunt at realworldoutdoors.com or on his YouTube channel.
13. Brett Schmit’s Towering Typical
After a few years of trying, Minnesota hunter Brett Schmit finally figured out the core area of monster buck he knew well. On Halloween morning, he slipped in to the deer’s lair, got settled, and spotted the buck out in some CRP. “I rattled, and he 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. Check out the full story of Schmit’s huge typical here.
14. Chad Kenyon’s Candelabra Giant
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.
15. Lance Young’s Sooner State Slammer
It’s a long way from Alabama to Oklahoma, but the 13-hour drive is worth it when you come home with one of the biggest deer ever harvested in the Sooner state. Lance Young had gotten a cell-cam picture of this huge nontypical and knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I took the longest time off work I could,” he says. “I figured out where he was bedded, and then I hung a set.” Young killed the buck the very next day. The monster nontypical has 21 scoreable points and green grossed 236-7/8 inches. “If the official score is even close to that after it dries, it will be one of the top 10 bucks in the state,” Young says. “It’s a true blessing from above that I even had the opportunity to hunt a buck of this caliber.”
16. Claire Flood’s First Buck Ever
Fifteen-year-old Claire Flood had a pretty simple goal while she waited for her first buck to appear. “I just wanted to harvest one bigger than my cousin’s buck,” she says. Trouble was, that buck was a 145-inch 10-point. But that, apparently, was no problem for Flood, as she took this 210-inch monster on November 18th. She was hunting her grandparents’ farm in Breckenridge County, Kentucky—just her third sit ever in the deer woods—when the heavy-horned giant appeared. While she’d never seen the buck before nor had any trail-cam pictures, when word of her trophy spread, a neighbor appeared and gave the buck’s spring sheds to Flood. You can read the full story of Flood’s huge buck here.
17. Ryan Kirby’s Prairie State Stud
Ryan Kirby of Boone, North Carolina, returned home to his family farm in Illinois. Late in the day on November 4th, Kirby was sitting in a stand he calls “Trump Tower.” He had to wait while the enormous nontypical walked through thick honeysuckle. When the animal finally cleared all the obstructions, Kirby had to try and ignore the giant rack while he drew and waited for the buck to work within 10 yards. Not long after the shot, Kirby and his father recovered the huge buck, which green grossed 202-5/8. “He was huge,” Kirby says. “My dad and I exchanged some shocked expletives and multiple high fives when we found him.”
18. Scott McGuigan’s Dream Buck
Sometimes the one that got away doesn’t escape forever. Scott McGuigan was hunting near Calgary, Alberta, in 2018 when he had an oh-so-close encounter with a giant whitetail. “This deer practically haunted my dreams,” he says. McGuigan brooded about the missed opportunity, until November 3 of this year. He’d been sitting in a river bottom just minutes when a big buck emerged. Mcguigan didn’t take the time to study the rack before letting an arrow fly. He followed the blood trail and came upon a familiar figure. “It was unmistakably the giant from two years before,” he says. “It’s quite a feeling to kill the biggest buck you’ve ever seen. It’s an absolute dream come true to be able to put him on a wall.”
19. Jody Dalton’s Possible State Record Typical
This tall and clean 12-point buck could threaten the Mountain State’s typical whitetail record. We don’t have many details on this gorgeous typical buck yet, other than the hunter is Jody Dalton, and the buck is reported to have a green score of 194 inches. The standing state record typical was killed in 2014 and netted 188⅞”. Stay tuned as we try to uncover more details about this fantastic typical.
20. John Clobes’ 26-Inch-Wide Whopper
Losing a hand in a farming accident years ago hasn’t slowed John Clobes down one bit. He was hunting the November 7th when he heard a deer approaching his stand. “The first thing I saw was his antlers, and they looked like they belonged to an elk.” The buck stopped, facing Clobes at 100 yards, and the ex-Marine calmly put the crosshairs on his scoped Browning A-Bolt at the base of the buck’s neck and fired. Clobes’ wife, Jane, was hunting nearby and joined him in a short track job that led to the buck. “He had a 26-inch inside spread and will score around 180,” Clobes says.
21. Zach Young’s Kansas Quest Buck
Zach Young put an end to a three-year quest for a Kansas giant this month. After showing up on trail cameras multiple times in 2018 and 2019, the buck became much more camera-shy this year. Young kept working the buck’s area though and eventually found him hiding below the lip of a creek bed. From a treestand, Young called to the buck with a grunt tube, and the deer emerged from a thicket and closed to 30 yards. “I only had one shot window,” he says. “He looked away once, and I let it fly.” The huge buck has 14 scorable points and a B&C green score of 199 even.