DEER OF THE YEAR 2004

CHRIS GALLAGHER

Over the course of the day, Chris watched countless deer walk through the cattails in front of his blind near Lake McConaughy, but he wasn’t able to get his gun up for a shot at any of them… until this rutted-up buck trudged by.

BRANDON COOK

Fifteen-year-old Brandon’s first deer came in the first hour of the first day of his first hunting season. Brandon shot this public-land buck in Ashland County. “Ol’ Striper,” named for his striped hooves, showed up on the scene just five minutes after Brandon’s dad started rattling.

TONY DINKINS

Apparently good things really do come to those who wait. Tony shot this high-racked 14-point whitetail in his wooded backyard on January 31″”the last day of the season. The deer fell to his .243.

KEN THOMAS

Ken’s guide spotted this Wyoming muley feeding on a ridge more than a half mile away. After sneaking through a wash, they got within 350 yards when the buck spotted them. Ken steadied himself and made a perfect shot.

MEGAN WHITE

Megan, 13, and her family were hunting together when Megan killed her first buck. Her brother and mother were the first to congratulate her. When her father arrived, “he gave me a big hug,” she says. “He had tears in his eyes.”

MARK MARINO

After passing on a six-point, waiting in vain for a nine-point to come within range and watching the light quickly fade, Mark was about to call it a dayÂ…until this monster in velvet presented him with a perfect broadside shot.

CHRIS & MAX MILLER

Chris took his 12-year-old son Max deer hunting for the first time last season. As the sun set one day in November, they sat silently together in a ground blind and shot these two bucks within 20 minutes of one another.

ROBERT SNOW

Though he missed a shot at this velvet buck on the second day of Utah’s archery season, Robert dedicated himself to tracking it. Finally, nine days and several 4×4 muleys later, he caught up to the deer and ended the hunt.

JAKE PARIDON

Jake shot this 4½-year-old buck at 65 yards during Ohio’s youth shotgun season when his father’s friend pushed the deer out of a wood duck marsh. This was only the second-largest deer Jake saw that day.

CHANCY BRANNING

Chancy shot this massive whitetail on his second Canada hunt when the brute showed up with a date for a midday snack. One shot from Chancy’s muzzleloader downed the 250-pounder.

KEN SERVAIS

Ken had never hunted deer before, but his friend Larry, an avid hunter, offered to guide him on a hunt in southern Arizona. They glassed this buck on the third and final morning of their hunt. Ken dropped the deer at 200 yards.

GREG BABCOCK

After Greg’s father spotted this buck during pre-season scouting, father and son decided to hold off on shooting any smaller deer. Greg shot the buck on the last morning of his hunt.

GORDY OATES

Gordy shot this super-wide 10-point buck in Linn County, Kan., with his Ruger 7mm. The deer’s almost perfectly symmetrical rack has an inside spread of 25½ inches and less than 1 inch of abnormal deductions.

HEATHER MARTIN

Heather and her husband, Josh, crawled within 50 yards of this deer bedded in a field in front of their house. When the buck stood up, Heather placed a shot in its neck. It was just her second day hunting

CHRIS SWEARER

Chris and his father, Gary, were on a combination Sitka blacktail and brown bear hunt on Kodiak Island when Chris took this fine buck. Gary shot an eight-point blacktail as well.

KAREN ANDERSON

After crossing paths with this deer on two separate occasions, Karen shot him on their third encounter. With a little help from her dad, Jim, she cleaned, skinned and packed out the deer herself.

STEPHANIE JONES

After stalking this monster muley for more than an hour and passing on a 180-yard shot she was uncertain about, 12-year-old Stephanie made a perfect 155-yard shot on her first-ever deer.

DAWN JANOUSKY

Dawn shot this buck of a lifetime with a bow set at 41 pounds. Dawn hopes women who may be unsure about bowhunting see that practice and a well-placed shot can replace heavy draw weights.

NICK ZEMLACHENKO

With much anticipation, thirteen-year-old Nick’s first deer finally stepped into the opening, where his father had expected. Under the guidance of his father, Nick shot it twice before bringing his reward back to the check station.

BRYAN DAWSON

After the buck escaped from the hands of fifteen-year-old Bryan with one wound in the morning, the buck once again crossed the path of Bryan. Only this time, “the comeback buck” was less fortunate

JOSHUA MILLER

After being on stand for half an hour on a cold Thanksgiving night hunting with his brother, Josh, 17, shot his second deer with a Remington 11-87. This deer being much larger than his first “gave me buck fever to the tenth degree.”

JACK HENGY

Jack claimed that mixing pheasant hunting and bow hunting led him to harvest this magnificent buck, which snuck in on him.

JOSEPH BRAUD

After Joseph, 15, pulled the trigger, he watched his first buck run down the ridge and crash into some brush. Skipping that day’s swimming practice was “well worth it.”

JESSICA MUNTZ

With a little encouragement from her dad, twelve-year-old Jessica shot her first buck.

BARRY L. WILEY

After an hour into a favorable north wind stand, Barry sighted a wide framed buck following the trail of a doe. The buck traveled sixty yards before dropping to the ground.

MATT DENNING

Spending the summer at his father’s house in Idaho, where bucks and deer could be easily sighted, Matt caught on to the hunting fever. He has had tree stands set up since they bought the house four years ago. Matt had let a few bucks slid by, until one evening he spotted a monster buck. The next day the buck reappeared within yards from his stand. Matt pulled his bow back, and the buck’s fate was then determined.

LISA HIRSHFELD

Just days before the hunting season ended, Lisa, 15, and her father spotted a buck behind a heard of deer. Even though the wind was blowing close to 80 mph, Lisa wasted no time when the buck stood up. She shot it down.

ETHAN MENGLE

It was the first day of Pennsylvania’s Deer Hunting season when Ethan, 12, met his monster buck. The buck following a doe passing by Ethan’s stand twice before the buck became Ethan’s prize for the season.