Is the new worldrecord walking around in your backyard? Umm…probably not. But our expert hasa good idea where he might be found
It might happen next season or 10 years from now, but it will happen. A hunter’s knees will buckle and his heart will pound as he stares at the freak heading toward his stand. The rack won’t look big so much as outlandish, like a child’s wooden rocker glued atop a deer’s head. Twelve points? Fourteen? More? Who knows, but it’s more bone than you could ever imagine. Somehow the hunter will pull it together, make a good shot, walk up to the beast and start trembling: My Lord, just how big is it?
Sixty days later official Boone and Crockett scorers will tape the rack at 214 inches plus. Our guy, or maybe even a woman or a kid, will become an instant celebrity, and a whole lot richer. Camouflage and archery or gun companies will shower this person with tens of thousands of dollars to stick their gear in his hands and their logos all over his body, until he looks like the underdog who just crashed the winner’s circle at Daytona. He ‘ll pop up in magazines and on ESPN. Heck, he might even get his own hunting reality show. He’ll travel the country with his shoulder-mounted trophy, giving seminars and signing autographs. All because one day he went out and shot the new No. 1 typical buck, the Holy Grail of the whitetail world.
What It Will Take
It will take one incredible animal to best the 213 5/8-inch monster that Milo Hanson shot near Biggar, Sask., in 1993. Our analysis of the top 200-inch typical racks in the Boone and Crockett book show that the new world record will have to possess 12 points or more, with the G-2, G-3 and G-4 tines on each antler in excess of 11 inches; an inside spread of 22 inches and likely more; and bases of 6 inches or more, with good mass throughout the 27-inch-plus main beams. The rack will have to be clean and amazingly symmetrical, with few abnormal points and less than 8 inches of deductions. The animal will probably be 5 to 7 years old.
Many people believe some lucky soul will see and shoot him soon. Consider this: Of the 392 typical bucks of 170 inches or more that have been entered in the B&C book since 2002, 12 scored more than 190, and two cracked 200. It would just take a few more inches of spread, mass and tine length to push a world-class rack like that over the top.
But one of the country’s top whitetail biologists doubts it will happen soon, and he has an intriguing theory why.
“Most bucks have non-typical antlers in their genes,” says Dr. Grant Woods. “As they age, especially on heavily managed private lands where there is so much nutritious feed, they start to put a lot of junk on their antlers. It’s rare for a six-year-old buck to be a typical these days.” Woods expects the record for the largest non-typical (currently a 307-incher taken in 2003) to be broken several times before the new No. 1 typical falls.
Where It Will Happen
The big money for the next record typical whitetail is being placed on two regions: the north-central United States and western Canada.
Many biologists and hunting experts like Illinois, Iowa or Wisconsin, where the whitetail genetics are superior, the soils are rich, crops and browse are abundant and the mixed bottomland and woodlot cover is excellent. The stats support it. Over the past five years, Wisconsin had 13 of the top 50 counties in the U.S. for B&C typicals, followed by Illinois (10 counties) and Iowa (7).
Both of the “I” states are top bets because there’s lots of intensive private-land management going on. Plus, buck tags are on a draw, and the firearms seasons are relatively short. A deer can have the best genetics, food and shelter in the world, but he’ll never grow a mega rack unless he survives four years or longer. Fertile habitats on or near the Mississippi River, from Buffalo County, Wis., through Allamakee and Clayton in Iowa to the much-heralded Pike in Illinois, are spots to watch.
But there are those who think the new record will stay home in western Canada. Saskatchewan (five 180-plus typical bucks since 2002) and Alberta (a 187-inch brute in 2004) are the favorites. The Canadian bush is far bigger than any habitat in the Lower 48. There are vast grain fields in the southern and central portions of the provinces, as well as good browse in the bush. Mild winters the past few years have provided the 300-pound bucks with more time to grow massive antlers.
Could a hunter rock the world by shooting Mr. Big someplace else? It’s conceivable. In 2002, a Massachusetts hunter went out on public land, sat against a tree and busted a 193-inch stud. While nobody expects the record to come out of the hot, heavily hunted Southeast, somebody shoots a 180-incher there almost every season. No matter where you hunt, there’s hope.
Tactics to Get Him
HUNT THE FEED: From wheat to clover to corn to soybeans to acorns to browse, the more diverse the fall foods on your land, the better your chances. The feed will keep the does nearby, and they’ll draw bucks from miles around.
WATCH THE COVER: Devote several 10- to 20-acre pockets of thick cover on your land to no-hunting zones. Monsters will pile into those sanctuaries when the guns start booming on adjoin ing lands. Hang a stand 100 yards down wind of the edge of the cover.
HUNT THE RUT: I’d lay odds the new No. 1 will be shot in early to mid-November, quite possibly between the 8th and the 11th. (A staggering 15 B&C brutes were killed on Nov. 8, 2003.) A superior buck might walk in daylight only a few times each season–most likely during the peak of the rut.
HUNT ALL DAY: You can’t shoot the record if you’re flopped on the couch. Spend as many days, hours and minutes in the woods as you can.
GET LUCKY: There’s no perfect strategy for killing the new record buck. Just hunt hard and hunt smart. And hope for some incredible luck.
What Are Your Odds?
From 2000 to 2003, in the top B&C county of Buffalo, Wis., 33,580 whitetails were harvested. Just 15 typicals scoring 170 or better made the record book, putting the odds for entry at 0.045 percent. Now imagine the astronomical odds of killing a buck with 44 more inches of antler. Still, some lucky hunter will shoot the new No. 1 sooner or later. It could be you.
Odds of being struck by lightning in lifetime: 1 in 3,000 Source: NOAA
Odds of a city-sized asteroid smacking into Earth in next century: 1 in 5,000 Source: USA Today
Odds of dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000 Source: Life: The Odds, by Gregory Baer
Odds of being attacked by a shark: 1 in 10 million Source: International Shark Attack File
Odds of shooting a world-record typical buck: 1 in 361 million* Source: Outdoor Life
*Calculated by estimating the number of deer hunters since 1970 divided by the scored deer in that same time frame.
What Other Experts Predict
According to some of the top people in the deer hunting business, here’s where the next world-record typical buck might be found.
DR. GRANT WOODS, whitetail biologist I pick north-central Missouri. Last fall a bowhunter shot a 196-inch typical on a 3,000-acre property. It was the third-biggest buck I caught on my trail cameras–the other two are still alive. On a public area, another hunter killed a monster 10-pointer. If it had had 12 or more points, it would’ve pushed the record.
ERIC PAWLAK, hunting consultant, Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures The record could come from Saskatchewan again, but my new secret spot is eastern British Columbia, on the Alberta border. Last year one of our outfitters there took 12 hunters out. Ten of them killed bucks, four of which made the B&C book; another one missed it by 2 inches.
KEITH BALFOURD, director of marketing, Boone and Crockett Club I like Kansas, a state with strong typical genetics and so many private croplands, bottoms and woodlots. Low access means a lot of bucks grow old. Iowa and Illinois are still tops, but there are more non-typical genetics there. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are all powerhouses.
BRIAN MURPHY, executive director, Quality Deer Management Association It would be hard to bet against any of the Midwestern states, from Kansas to southern Minnesota and Wisconsin down into Iowa and Illinois and over into Ohio. All of those states have the genetics, food sources and tremendous soil to produce the next record.
TERRY DRURY, whitetail expert and TV/video producer with M.A.D. Calls If I had to pick one state, it would certainly be Illinois. It could happen there literally any day. There are a lot of big bottomlands across the state with fertile soils and thick cover. The deer have great genetics as well. I’d bet the monster would come out of one of those habitats.
GENE WENSEL, Iowa whitetail hunter, guide and author In Canada, I’d pick Saskatchewan, Alberta or western Manitoba, in that order. In the Lower 48, I’d say Iowa, Illinois or Kansas. There’s a chance a 214-inch buck could be raised inside an enclosure. If someone kept it mum and passed it off as a wild deer, it could make a big splash.
Top 10 Hot Spots
If you want to up your odds of being the lucky hunter to take the next world-record whitetail, set your sights on one of the following states or provinces.
1 ILLINOIS Led by the famed Pike County, the state boasts 107 bucks taken since 2000 that scored 170 or more, with 5 of them breaking the 190 mark.
2 WISCONSIN Superior genetics and abundant cropland have made Wisconsin home to 13 of the top 50 counties for B&C typicals since 2000.
3 IOWA With access protected by a strict draw system and relatively short seasons, Iowa is home to 7 of the top 50 counties for typicals.
4 SASKATCHEWAN Home of the current world-record typical, many believe the vast land and abundant food make the province ripe for another.
5 ALBERTA Though Alberta doesn’t receive the fanfare Saskatchewan gets, its deer have the same strong genetics and terrain in which to grow.
6 KANSAS Look to the eastern or south-central regions of Kansas as a serious contender, thanks to the habitat and strong genetics found there.
7 KENTUCKY The western part of the Bluegrass State is where hunters have shot 18 typicals scoring 175 or better in the last three seasons.
8 MISSOURI One of two new hot zones garnering increased attention is found in north-central Missouri, where rolling farmland feeds big deer.
9 OHIO South-central Ohio is another new hot spot, where 6 of the top 15 typicals in 2004 were taken, including the biggest of the year at 201 1/8 inches.
10 MANITOBA Along with eastern British Columbia, Manitoba is a long shot, but remote land and huge deer make it a contender.
MID-ATLANTIC SEABOARD Great agriculture and soils favor the eastern shore of Maryland, where a 194-inch monster was killed in Kent County in 2002.
INDIANA Five 170-inch-plus bucks were killed in the Hoosier State during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, including a 192-inch giant in White County in 2003.
EASTERN COLORADO The herds are not yet overpopulated, the deer have plenty to eat, the age structure of the bucks is good and the pressure is relatively light. The groundwork is there to grow that one-in-a-million buck in the next decade. A 192 1/8 -inch beast was shot in El Paso County in 2003.
ONTARIO A 199-inch typical was poached there in 2003 (the criminals were caught and charged). Could the monster’s offspring be prowling the bush with 15 more inches of antler? It’s quite possible.
Trophy Search is an online database of all deer and big-game animals entered into the B&C book from 1932 to the present. It’s the best tool we’ve seen for researching where the biggest heads are coming from. You can check record whitetail racks by number of points, greatest spread, beam length, etc. The database is accessible for $50 a year at booneandcrockett.org.