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December 15, 2008
BuckTracker: You're Such A Freak!

I’ve covered freak whitetails in this space before (including antlered does and cactus bucks), but nothing—in my mind—that compares to the deer below. This whitetail arrived in a Maryland taxidermist’s shop recently and may very well be the strangest set of antlers I’ve seen.


This buck’s antlers seem to be fused at the base. Indeed, even some of the “kicker” and “sticker” points growing well above the antler bases have grown together, creating a kind of huge, single “horn” that sprouted from this buck’s noggin.


I know, I know…someone is going remind me that deer grow antlers, not horns…the difference being that antlers are shed and regrown each year. I get that, up, down and sideways.  I also propose that this is one whitetail that—had he not been killed by a hunter—would have wished that the monstrosity between his ears would have remained firmly in place come late-winter. What would that poor fella have looked (and felt) like when he shed this antler? Antlers? Horn?

December 12, 2008
BuckTracker: Way Up in the U.P.

For the last several years, Michigan has taken back seat to several of its Midwestern neighbors (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, etal.) known for their big-buck reputations. This, despite the Wolverine State’s long and storied reputation as a whitetail hunter’s state; when I covered the Great Lakes region for F&S’s regional pages (remember those?) some of the most knowledgeable and passionate deer hunters I interviewed came from Michigan.


Well this buck—shot near the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) town of Newberry—should remind folks that Michigan can still produce a world-class whitetail. While the information I have is spotty, the buck was apparently green-scored by a B&C measurer at 197-3/8”, and sported 14 points, 27” main beams and a 24” inside spread. Apparently the buck was a “migrator” (UP bucks often leave their summer/fall home range and head toward wintering areas close to Lake Michigan) and was captured on trail camera three days before it was killed.

Should that green score hold up, this UP giant will rank among the state’s largest whitetails ever shot by a hunter. Even if it doesn’t, I feel this is one of the prettiest typical bucks I have seen this fall.

December 11, 2008
Michigan Whitetail Harvest On Track, Despite Bait Ban

From The Flint Journal:

If early estimates are any proof, it appears the controversial and much-dreaded bait ban has actually had little or no impact on the success of the firearm deer hunting season.
 . . .

Many hunters had worried the ban would hinder their ability to get deer within shooting range. . . .

Early projections indicate hunter success was very similar to last year in both the southern and northern halves of the Lower Peninsula where the ban was in effect, said DNR big game specialist Rod Clute.

Whitetail News Roundup

Michigan Lifts Ban On Deer Rehabilitation

National Park Service To Cull 2,000 Deer Near Camp David

Six Wisconsin Wolves Shot As Deer Gun Season Opens

Mr. Buck Goes To School

December 10, 2008
Bucktracker: Can you say “Monster”?

With the first of two Iowa shotgun seasons winding down, I figured pics of some huge Hawkeye bucks would start circulating. My hunch proved correct when a friend shot me the following photo today.

According to the accompanying story, the buck was shot by Des Moines resident Chris Wood while he and buddies from Perficut Lawn Care were making a drive near Bedford, Iowa. The buck sports 33 scorable points, plus a drop tine. Though Wood will have to wait 60 days to have the rack officially scored, the buck was green-scored at 264-0/8”. If this score holds, the buck would be the new #2 buck in the Iowa record books.

December 08, 2008
BuckTracker: More Young Guns

This fall, my home state of Minnesota took the admirable step—in my opinion—of lowering the minimum hunting age for big game seasons. This year, hunters as young as 10 could participate in the firearms deer season. They must be accompanied (read; kept at arm’s length) by a licensed adult mentor. The young hunter did not need to have passed a hunter’s safety class, but would need to do so by age 12.

Just this weekend a friend (my daughter’s former 2nd grade teacher) pulled me aside at a dance recital and asked “do you think this is a good idea? Letting 10-year olds hunt?” I said that, providing the 10-year old was eager, physically big enough to handle a gun, and escorted by a mentor of sound judgment, the idea was a good one, indeed. Better yet, I could point to an excellent example.


Brooke Johnson is an 11-year old 5th-grader who attends the same school my kids do; Rushford-Peterson elementary. Brooke and her father Brent were hunting Minnesota’s first firearms deer season when Brooke shot this fine 6-point buck. My young daughter (also named Brooke) was standing by me when Brooke told me she’d shot her first deer. After we congratulated her, my Brooke tugged at my sleeve and said “I want to do that next year!” Well I would like her to do that next year to, and I thank Brooke Johnson—and the Minnesota DNR—for inspiring my young daughter in such fine fashion!

December 04, 2008
Video Report: Montana Ranchers Untangle Locked Bucks

From the Great Falls Tribune:

The chores at the neighbors' ranch went way beyond the usual last Friday for the Walleweins of north Toole County. The family had to gang up to separate two trophy whitetail bucks that had locked horns while fighting during the rut. . . .

Jesse and Lance sat on one deer while Mike Wallewein sat on the other. He told his kids to get ready to jump when he got the deer undone.

"I undone them. The one with the horn through its mouth took off. I was sitting on the other one and I jumped up but it just lay there. It was so winded. It gave me a chance to count the points. I rolled it over with my foot and then it jumped up and took off."

Whitetail News Roundup

Minnesota To X-Ray All Donated Venison

Suicidal Deer Meets 18-Wheeler’s Windshield

Venison Pizza? Eatery Manager Claims Misunderstanding

Illinois Hunter Bags 9-Point Doe

BuckTracker: Pretty Piebald!

Every fall I look forward to what I call “surprise bucks”; not necessarily the biggest deer, but the most unique specimens. Today’s nominee is this gorgeous piebald buck. Not sure where this buck was taken (as always, lots of rumors, but you know how that goes) or who the lucky hunter was…but this is surely one of 08’s prettiest whitetails.


About 10 years ago, I hunted a farm that I knew hosted a piebald (partially albino) doe. She was an old and wise matriarch that threw several all-brown fawns over the course of her life. One December evening I was in a stand overlooking an apple orchard when that deer wandered in, cut my boot tracks, and trailed them to the base of my tree. She gave me multiple shooting opportunities which I decided to pass….for no other reason than I just didn’t feel like killing her. That deer lived for at least three more seasons and—to the best of my knowledge—was never taken by a hunter.

Anyone else have encounters with a piebald or been lucky enough to shoot one?

December 02, 2008
BuckTracker: What’s Up in Wisconsin?!

OK, by now you know the “Field & Stream buck” is dead. If you don’t, check out Colin Kearn’s great story on the Buffalo County giant shot by bowhunter Bob Decker early this month. But if you think Wisconsin is done producing monster for the year, here’s another whopper to ponder.

Heath Tschumper of La Crosse shot this incredible 12-point in western Wisconsin about a week after Decker’s trophy fell. This buck sports great mass, tall tines and excellent symmetry. In fact, it will likely outscore Decker’s buck on the typical side. Heath’s buck has 42” of mass measurements alone, and minus a couple sticker points, seems to have few deductions.


These two giants prove why Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of P&Y entries, and the top-end bucks from the Badger State just keep getting better and better. With the Wisconsin firearms season set to open on Saturday, I expect to see even more super bucks come from here this fall! Great buck, Heath!

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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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