Whitetail Hunting photo

Late in the afternoon on November 6, 2016, 18-year-old Austin Pontier of Clark County, Iowa, killed this humongous typical whitetail—and set off a firestorm of speculation. Gross-score guesses, from experts and everyday hunters alike, ranged from 220 to 240 inches B&C. Many believed the monster had a legitimate shot at toppling Milo Hanson’s longstanding typical whitetail world-record. Here’s the story of Pontier’s hunt, his remarkable buck, and his brush with whitetail hunting immortality.

Austin Pontier Iowa Buck
Austin Pontier with his incredible Iowa buck on the evening of November 6. Kayla Pontier
Buck scratching face
Although Pontier had heard that there was a giant typical in his neighborhood last summer, the only big bucks that he knew were on his hunting property were a pair of great non-typicals and nice 9-pointer. Then, in September, he got pics of a huge, heavy typical. “I thought, ‘Okay, there he is!’” he says. “I nicknamed him ‘The OG Buck’ because he reminded me of a buck called ‘The Ohio Giant’ killed a couple years ago.” Kayla Pontier
Huge Buck
Pontier was excited about the huge whitetail, of course, but he wasn’t sure about his chances. “The OG Buck was a real wanderer,” he says. “I’d get a pic of him, and then nothing for a while. Then he’d show up at a camera on the other end of the farm, close to two miles away. If he had a core area, I couldn’t figure it out.” Kayla Pontier
But as the rut approached, Pontier caught a trail cam photo of the buck near one of favorite stands. “That was on October 30th, and on the afternoon of November 6th I went straight to that stand, which I’d stayed out of all fall. I wasn’t holding out for just him, but I remember thinking, ‘At least I know he’s in the area.’” Kayla Pontier
Shortly after Pontier settled into his stand—tucked in a wood line overlooking a bean field—a half-dozen does came out to feed. “Then a small 6-point chased the does off,” Pontier says. “I decided to grunt and rattle, because the deer seemed to be moving well.” Kayla Pontier
buck skull
The calling had an immediate effect. “I’d just finished rattling when I looked around and saw the antlers of a big buck coming through some tall grass along the beans,” he says. “I knew right away it was The OG Buck. He stood there a minute, staring past my stand to the opposite side of the field. I looked over there and saw another big buck, one that we’d named ‘Lucky 9’.” Kayla Pontier
The two deer stared for a while, then bristled up and marched toward each other. “I was right in the middle of two mature bucks ready to fight,” Pontier says. “Lucky 9 stepped into the timber behind my stand, but The OG Buck walked right in front of me and stopped at 20 yards.” Kayla Pontier
cleaned buck skull
Austin slowly raised his crossbow (he’d received an Iowa crossbow permit after suffering a wrestling injury), and found the massive typical through the scope. “He gave me a perfect shot, and I remember thinking, OK, don’t mess this up.” I heard the arrow hit and knew I’d made a good shot. He trotted off 30 yards, wobbled for a few seconds, and then went down.” Kayla Pontier
Iowa Record Buck
That’s when the adrenaline started flowing. “I’d been pretty calm up to that point, but then I started shaking like crazy.” Finally, Pontier climbed out of his stand, walked up to the buck, and lifted the rack. “It was pretty amazing. I texted my dad and said, ‘I just killed a huge typical that could be over 190.’ He didn’t believe me at first.” Kayla Pontier
big trophy buck
When this jaw-dropping field photo hit the Internet, it sparked a firestorm of speculation about whether the buck might threaten the typical world record. “The reaction was overwhelming. My phone blew up with all kinds of attention for weeks,” says Pontier. “A lot of good stuff was being said, but a lot of ugly rumors were spreading around, too. It’s sad how some people can make up such lies. As hunters, we should be on each other’s side and congratulate each other.” Kayla Pontier
Measuring rack
All the world-record talk seemed a little farfetched to Pontier. “When I first got trail cam pictures of the buck, he thought he had a chance. But after I shot him and took a good look at his rack, I knew he wouldn’t quite make it. But that didn’t change the way I thought about the deer in the least.” On January 12, 2017, after the mandatory 60-day drying period, B&C measurer Randy McPherren finally put an official tape on the giant buck. Kayla Pontier
B & C scoring
Pontier’s huge 7×7 carried impressive mass measurements well out along the beams. The inside spread went 19-6/8-inchs. When all the numbers were tallied, the typical whitetail grossed 202-3/8 inches and netted 194-1/8 B&C. Pontier’s buck is the largest crossbow typical ever registered in the state of Iowa. Kayla Pontier
trophy mount

trophy mount

Though only 18 years old, Austin is a veteran outdoorsman who recognizes the rarity of his achievement. “I was lucky enough to kill a buck of twenty lifetimes,” he says. “I’m totally aware of how special he is, but having him on the wall doesn’t lessen my passion for hunting mature deer. I decided to buckle down this year and wait for a special buck and I was rewarded. From now on, any mature buck is going to make me happy.”