When it comes to stories about Oklahoma trophy bucks, frankly, nothing surprises me. Our state yields some super bucks each season, and there will undoubtedly be more in the future. Hunters are catching on to the “let them live long enough to grow their best antlers” mantra.
Last season proved to be golden for a number of Oklahoma’s deer hunters — several incredible bucks were taken, and even some by out-of-state hunters. Although some areas of our state annually produce big bucks, it seems other giants show up in the most unlikely places.
If you’re a big-buck aficionado or just curious to read about where some of last year’s best bucks were taken, read on. The stories related here may provide you with insight and tips that can help you tag a dandy buck of your own this fall.
AWESOME ARCHERY BUCKS
Jones resident George Moore had a feeling; his gut instinct told him the day would be a good one for deer hunting. Hunting the elusive buck in eastern Oklahoma County that he had nicknamed “Most Wanted” usually left Moore perplexed, but that day was different.
After climbing into his stand on the afternoon of Oct. 18, Moore was entertained by some does and a small buck feeding beneath him on rice bran. Suddenly, the deer heads jerked up; they peered intently into the trees before moving away.
Moore figured another buck, perhaps bigger, was approaching. His speculation was confirmed seconds later when Most Wanted emerged 20 yards away!
“I couldn’t believe he was finally in front of me,” Moore said. “I was going nuts. I closed my eyes for a few seconds so I wouldn’t get nervous from staring at his massive antlers.”
Moore opened his eyes, took careful aim, and released an arrow that buried into the buck’s left shoulder. The buck whirled and vanished behind some cedars.
Moore waited until 6 p.m. and called his son Matt with the good news. His son joined him as darkness fell; after finding hair and a small drop of blood, Matt urged his dad to wait until the next morning to look for the buck.
The next morning George and Matt found Most Wanted 60 yards away from the spot where he was shot. When George saw the buck he was overcome with emotion.
“I thanked God as I grabbed the buck’s rack,” Moore recalled. “I was amazed. The buck was awesome!”
Sixty days later the 21-point non-typical was officially scored. The impressive rack grossed 206 5/8 and netted 191 7/8.
Jody Slingo loves to hunt suburban bucks, and last season he spotted a dandy at his hunting spot in Oklahoma County, just three days before season. Slingo set up a tree stand near an area where the big buck came out onto an alfalfa field, in hopes of getting a shot at the bruiser.
Little did Slingo know, he was destined to have some bad luck. Just before dark on opening day, the big buck walked under Slingo’s tree. But it was too late to shoot. The next evening the buck came out late, just out of range, and never presented a shot. To add insult to injury, the next evening the buck came out 28 yards away — and Slingo missed, shooting just over the buck.
Slingo remembered shooting his best buck ever — a 147-inch, 12-point brute — after getting a haircut before the hunt. He remembered his good fortune, and wondered if a haircut might change his luck.
“I went to the salon and told my hair stylist, Heather, that I needed a haircut, to change my luck,” he said.
On Saturday Oct. 9, Slingo climbed in his stand hoping his luck would change. After seeing no deer, Slingo was ready to leave when a nice 10-point buck walked out. He drew on the buck and then a sound alerted him to another deer nearby. Slowly glancing to his side, he spotted the big buck. Shifting his Hoyt bow, Slingo released a perfect arrow that struck the big buck on target.
After a short tracking job, Slingo found his buck and was overcome with emotion. The big buck was unbelievably massive with more than 1 inches of mass in all the circumference measurements. The mainframe 6×6 rack carried 5 sticker points and scored 183 7/8.
Bowhunter Brian Strickland knows Oklahoma is a sleeper state for big bucks, and so he doesn’t mind the 9-hour drive from his home in Colorado to hunt the abundant whitetails near Mangum.
Strickland’s lease is typical of those in southwestern Oklahoma — riparian habitat, agricultural areas, thick mesquite brush, and rugged breaks. The area has been managed extensively with some monster bucks inhabiting the tough environ.
Strickland made his pilgrimage twice last October, after narrowly missing a 150-inch buck he nicknamed “Dagger.” That miss was due to an admitted rookie mistake.
Redemption came on Nov. 15, just a few days before the state’s gun season opener. The weather was forecast to bring a morning wind shift, so Strickland planned on changing stands. At midmorning the wind shifted, causing Strickland to move to his second stand.
Knowing some of the does in his hunting area were in estrus, Strickland set up a doe decoy between a bedding area and a wheat field. Around noon, Strickland spotted a buck emerging from a mesquite thicket 75 yards away. The buck locked in on to the doe decoy and circled downwind for a closer look.
Strickland thought the buck was merely good until he put his glasses on it. “I realized I was looking at the biggest buck I had ever seen on the hoof,” he said.
The buck angled in and stopped at 38 yards to sniff the wind. Using a Hoyt bow, Strickland held his 40-yard pin low on the buck’s chest and released a perfect arrow. The mortally wounded buck bounded off, but was recovered a short distance away.
Strickland’s buck was majestic, sporting matched 24-inch main beams and a 23-inch inside spread. With 11-points on a 5×5 typical frame, the great deer later netted 168 6/8.
BRUISER BLACKPOWDER BUCK
Travis Faulkner heard that Oklahoma was a pretty fair place to hunt deer, and so the Kentuckian decided to try hunting here. With several big bucks already to his credit, Faulkner booked a blackpowder hunt with outfitter Todd Rogers, of Rut-N-Strut Guide Service (580-799-1920) near Sayre.
Rogers told Faulkner that he had been seeing good bucks on the 40,000 acres he leases in Roger Mills and Beckham counties. Faulkner chose to hunt a 7,500-acre spot with typical western habitat — tallgrass prairie, a creek bottom, red hill canyons, and an alfalfa field.
While glassing and scouting, Faulkner spotted antler rubs near a presumed bedding area. That afternoon Faulkner set up near a well-used deer trail and saw a nice buck slip out of the bedding area to go feed. The buck chose a different trail than Travis had expected, leaving him without a shot. The savvy woodsman cut some limbs and made himself a ground blind for the next morning.
Unfortunately, the wind direction was completely wrong for a morning hunt and Faulkner elected to wait until evening to ease back into the area. During the midday hours, he slipped into his makeshift blind and waited for the top-heavy buck to exit the thickly covered bedding area.
About an hour before dark, the shooter Faulkner had been waiting on appeared along the edge of a brushy draw, and started working toward him. The buck just needed to step out from behind a single tree to give Faulkner a shot at its vitals, when all of a sudden a group of does erupted on the scene and ran toward both of them. Faulkner was in disbelief until he saw a pack of coyotes.
“It felt like I had been punched in the gut when the coyotes messed up my chances at the monster buck,” Faulkner said. “The deer ran completely out of the country, so I shot one of the coyotes, and it made me feel a little better.”
The final morning of his hunt Faulkner spotted the big buck following a doe 180 yards away. Confident in his shooting ability, Faulkner rested his Thompson-Center smokepole on shooting sticks and made a perfect shot on the huge 10-pointer.
The buck was awesome with a rack sporting bladed tines that later scored 168 inches.
GNARLY GUN BUCKS
Michael Cole stared in amazement at the trail camera photos, Fresh out of velvet was a giant whitetail with points clustered on both beams of its massive antlers. Nicknaming the brute “Heartbreaker,” Cole hunted the buck the entire 2009 season, but was afforded only brief glimpses. He never saw the buck again until last Halloween night; he was relieved to know the huge buck was still alive.
Cole spent the first few days of gun season trying to help his daughters Megan and Madison shoot a buck. “My daughters are my priority,” he said. “I was hoping one of them could shoot the big buck.”
After his daughter Madison took a small buck, Cole decided to use her rifle and hunt the day before Thanksgiving. He promised his wife Lorie and his daughters that if he shot the big buck, he would do the duty that all husbands dread: He would go shopping with them on Black Friday.
The next morning Cole overslept and climbed into his ladder stand an hour later than he had hoped. Once in his stand, he hung his binoculars on a branch and then sat down with Madison’s rifle across his lap. He looked up and couldn’t believe his eyes! Just 60 yards away walking toward his stand was Heartbreaker.
Cole raised his rifle and shot the buck — now a mere 30 yards away — in the chest. The buck vanished almost instantly, and so Cole climbed down and went to get his wife and daughters to help him find the buck. During his walk back, Cole spotted the huge buck lying in the woods.
Cole’s buck was 28 inches wide and had 28 points. The buck later netted 230 2/8, making it the largest buck ever taken in Lincoln County.
Cole credits the Lord for allowing him to be in the right place at the right time. Madison had the last word, reminding her dad, “You have to go shopping with us on Black Friday!”
Oklahoma State University student Jarrett Orrell readily admits he hasn’t taken many deer in his lifetime. In fact, the Caddo County deer hunter has taken eight deer total, with just over half being bucks — his best a 7-pointer. Last season, Orrell turned a corner when he took the biggest buck ever killed in Caddo County.
Orrell’s family’s 80-acre farm usually holds a fair number of deer; mostly does with a few small bucks. The property has a wooded area and a creek that runs through the middle, with a 20-acre wheat field and a 20-acre grass field on each side.
On opening morning Orrell’s spot produced no deer, and so he opted to try another piece of property nearby. That afternoon he shot at a small buck but missed; later he discovered his scope was off.
After re-sighting his rifle, Orrell hunted again Thanksgiving morning with chilly temperatures and clear skies. From his tower blind he spotted four does that came out of the trees at midmorning.
“I dozed off for a couple of minutes and when I awoke the does ran out onto the field and looked back toward the trees,” he said. “Instantly, a buck walked out that I knew was bigger than any other buck I had ever seen.”
Orrell took careful aim and fired, striking the monster buck. After a brief wait, Orrell walked into the trees and found the buck dead nearby.
“It was unbelievable,” Orrell remembered. “I called my dad and told him I got the big one.”
The non-typical rack was slightly more than 17 inches wide with 26 points, netting 220 2/8.
Thirteen-year-old Kelsey McKay is a spunky teen who just loves to hunt deer with her family.
On the second day of gun season last fall, Kelsey headed to the woods of Coal County with her mother for an afternoon hunt. Just before 5 p.m., Kelsey got impatient and was ready to leave because no deer had been seen. Her mother Helen compelled her to stay, and in seconds a doe came out 25 yards away. Sure enough, a buck was chasing her. A second buck then ran across the opening, followed by a third, even larger buck. Kelsey raised her rifle and shot at the big buck but missed. Incredibly, a fourth buck cautiously walked out; to Kelsey’s chagrin her single-shot rifle was empty and the buck trotted into the woods.
“Did you see that buck?” Kelsey asked her mother. Helen reminded her daughter that she needed to be quiet while they were hunting.
Kelsey’s father John heard the shot and hopped on his ATV to come investigate. In route to his wife and daughter’s location, he inadvertently scared the big buck back toward them. The buck ran to within 75 yards of Kelsey, but she didn’t feel comfortable making the shot. When John arrived, Kelsey and Helen told him about the encounter.
Incredibly, the monster buck stepped out again 120 yards away, now facing Kelsey. “If you are going to try for that buck,” John told his daughter, “here’s your chance.”
Kelsey raised her rifle and made a perfect shot. The excited teenager found the buck and was amazed at its antlers. The non-typical rack sported 19 points and netted 200 7/8.