Hoosier Deer Outlook -- Part 2: Finding Trophy Bucks

Here is the annual statewide review on where big bucks were harvested last season in our state. Are any of these counties near where you live?

Photo by Billkenney.com

We've all imagined what it would be like to harvest a mature buck with a gargantuan set of antlers. In Indiana, the chance at such a buck is a real possibility. Of the three well-known components of mature buck production -- genetics, age, and nutrition --only one of the three has been lacking here in the past.

The excellent soils of Hoosierland have always produced great agricultural crops, in addition to creating highly nutritious native forages, which in turn help our whitetails to attain large antlers. The genetic potential of our deer is also very high; a few of the bucks harvested in the past rank right up there with some of the top-scoring bucks taken in North America. What the majority of our bucks have lacked in the past has been the ability to reach maturity.

County records are falling like fresh snow. Several of the top bucks harvested this past season are new county records. Take young Charles Harvey's Delaware County non-typical, which was harvested during the second week of the November firearms season. This 202 1/8 monster shatters the old record by nearly 15 inches!

The young hunter took this tremendous buck in a county not previously known to produce giant deer. His stepfather, Jason Rees, said that they are seeing such improvements in the overall number of big bucks that it is hard to believe compared with past years, when they would go all season without seeing any real big deer.

The ever-improving Hoosier Record Buck Program is looking for a few good men or women who would like to become official scorers. There are still areas of the state that don't have adequate numbers of scorers. If you, or someone you know, live in one of these areas and would like to become a scorer, you can write to HRBP, c/o John Bogucki, 66603 Pine Rd., North Liberty, IN 46554.

ZONE 1

This northeastern zone puts out some of the top bucks in the state every year, and 2004 was no exception. Zone 1 produced 26 racks for the HRBP last season, up from 20 the year before.

Noble County, which has proved to be this zone's top county, produced seven entries last year, maintaining its spot at the top. Shane Silver's monster 21-point non-typical was tops for the zone, and also the top muzzleloader non-typical buck from the entire state last season. It ranks No. 2 overall in the firearms category.

The Silver buck's score of 206 1/8 puts it in the B&C record book as well. Chris Addison, a Columbia City High School student, harvested the No. 2 archery non-typical from last year. It came from Noble County as well. His wide mega-buck scores 193 2/8, just missing the all-time B&C book by less than 2 inches.

Another noteworthy buck is Adam O'Connor's new 21-point DeKalb County record non-typical, which scores 187 4/8. Another great non-typical from Zone 1 is Jimmy Hampson's 183 0/8 taken in Marshall County. Marshall produced six total entries.

The top typical buck taken in the zone is by muzzleloader hunter Peggy Gantz. She harvested her 167 2/8 buck in Marshall County. Other Zone 1 counties that produced at least three entries include Kosciusko (5), LaGrange (4) and DeKalb (3). Steuben and Elkhart also produced entries.

ZONE 2

Northwestern Indiana's Zone 2 lies in the shadows of Lake Michigan's highly urban, industrial area. In this somewhat unorthodox habitat live some whopper bucks. This zone produced 23 HRBP entries to the overall number, compared to 2003's total of 20. While this zone traditionally kicks out a few giants, it did not put any of its bucks near the top of the four categories this past year. This does not mean that Zone 2 has lost any of its prestige, however.

LaPorte County, which checked in five entries for 2004, is where archer Chad Schau harvested his 169 4/8 non-typical buck. This buck is the sixth highest-scoring non-typical in the archery category for the year. Newton County bow-bender Richard Booker harvested that county's new archery typical record buck, scoring 160 0/8, which was also good for 10th place statewide in the archery typical category last year. Muzzleloader hunter Andrew Fox also took a 160 0/8 typical in nearby Lake County.

The top overall scoring non-typical for Zone 2 was a 171 2/8 buck taken by Brian Hoffman with a muzzleloader. Zone 2 counties that produced at least three entries were Pulaski (6), LaPorte (5), Jasper (3) and Fulton (3).

ZONE 3

Eight-county Zone 3, which is south of Zone 1, and largely surrounding the city of Ft. Wayne, gave up 16 entries for the program in 2004, down slightly from its previous number of 18. Huntington (5), Wabash (4) and Jay (3) counties produced three or more HRBP bucks last season.

The top non-typical scoring buck for the zone is Michael Beckley's 188 5/8 deer, which breaks the old Wabash record with room to spare. It is the No. 6 buck in the firearms non-typical category for 2004. The other top buck from the zone is bowhunter Jerry Reynard's Jay County non-typical, which came in as the No. 5 scoring buck in that category. This buck scores a very respectable 172 6/8.

Huntington County produced a couple of good bucks as well. Shotgunner Rick Dailey harvested a 163 0/8 non-typical; and muzzleloader hunter Noel Eltzroth smoked a 161 4/8 typical that beats the old county record in that same category.

ZONE 4

The huge central Indiana Zone 4 is the largest overall zone in the state. It turned out 42 entries for the HRBP, compared to 34 in 2003. This zone produced a number of the top-scoring bucks for the 2004 season. Shelby County shotgun hunter Ray Jones harvested the top overall scoring typical in the firearms category for the year. His 181 7/8 monster buck is also that county's new record deer. The other bruiser taken in the zone is teenager Charles Harvey's 202 1/8 non-typical, which was taken during the firearms season.

His awesome buck features super-long brow tines and excellent mass. It is the No. 3 firearms non-typical for 2004, and is, as mentioned previously, a new Delaware County record in that category. Delaware produced six overall entries for 2004. Interestingly, bowhunter Joseph Hirst also broke this same county's archery non-typical record with a 184 5/8 brute. This buck is also the No. 3 buck statewide in that category.

The No. 7 and No. 8 typical archery bucks also came out of this zone in 2004. Frank Chesher harvested his 165 5/8 bruiser in Henry County, followed closely by Erik Vohs' 161 3/8 beauty taken in Hamilton County. Hamilton produced three entri

es for the year.

Randy Speicher shot his 172 7/8 non-typical, the No. 4 overall archery buck for the year from that category, in Madison County. The No. 7 non-typical buck from last season, which scores 165 5/8, belongs to Tippecanoe County archer Stephen Jenkinson. Tippecanoe County produced four entries for the program in 2004. The No. 8 archery non-typical buck is also from Zone 4. Miami County hunter Terry Brantley harvested his 160 7/8 buck, which is the new county record, there.

Other counties producing at least three bucks for the program were Warren (5), Montgomery (3), Fountain (3) and Shelby (3).

ZONE 5

In the southeastern tip of the state lie the nine counties of Zone 5. This zone produced 39 entries for 2004. This was up slightly from the previous year's number of 37. Although geographically small in size, Zone 5 cranks out its share of trophy bucks.

Bowhunter Mark Bonnewell killed his 183 3/8 typical buck in Ripley County. This county produced eight overall entries. Not only is this deer the new archery record for the county, but it is the overall typical record for the county as well. It also is the top typical harvested statewide for 2004, by all weapons, in addition to being a new top five all-time entry in the archery typical category. Other counties in the zone that produced at least three entries are Jennings (12), Dearborn (6), Jefferson (6) and Switzerland (5).

Jack Schuerman harvested his big buck in Switzerland County with a shotgun. His 171 1/8 typical was the No. 5 buck in the firearms typical category for 2004. Archer Travis Skinner's Jefferson County typical scores 167 3/8 and comes in at No. 5 for the year in that category.

Jennings County produced a 164 3/8 typical brute for blackpowder hunter Eric Dickerson, and also cranked out two 160 4/8 typical bucks. Ray Vaughn harvested his buck with muzzleloader, and its twin-scoring buck was taken by shotgunner Rodney Vogel. Jennings also produced a 182 2/8 non-typical buck for blackpowder hunter Robert Kiefer, which ties it for the No. 11 spot in the firearms non-typical category for the year.

Jennings County produced many outstanding bucks for 2004 and came in as the county that produced the second most HRBP entries in the state for 2004.

Another non-typical of note is the 173 4/8 buck taken by Jared Napier. His bruiser deer was taken by shotgun in Jefferson County.

ZONE 6

Zone 6 is in south-central Indiana and is the second largest zone in the state behind Zone 4. This zone has produced many of the state's largest bucks over the years. Parke County alone registered an amazing 19 entries for 2004, making it the top producer of big bucks for a single county in the state!

The entire zone turned out an unbelievable 79 entries for the season, up from its 2003 production of 57. Nine of its counties produced at least three deer. Coming in behind Parke is Greene (10), Washington (10), Putnam (7), Owen (5), Martin (5), Jackson (4), Morgan (4) and Orange (3).

Not only did the zone produce a ton of overall entries, it also produced 16 of the top 39 scoring bucks for the season. At the top of the list is Bobby Hardwick's new Martin County record typical buck, which comes in at No. 2 for the year in its category. This whopper of a muzzleloader buck scores a very impressive 180 1/8, and is a top five typical muzzleloader buck all-time for the state.

Equally impressive is David Brassuer's Martin County firearms non-typical buck, which registers an impressive 220 2/8. This shotgun buck was the top scoring non-typical overall for 2004, and is Martin County's new record non-typical. This B&C behemoth will also find its place as the new No. 8 for Indiana shotgun non-typicals all-time.

Another great buck was Brian Berrisford's 195 0/8 buck harvested by bow in Parke County. This is the No. 1 archery non-typical buck for the state in 2004, and breaks that county's record in its category. Parke also produced a 172 3/8 typical for shotgunner Neil Dickerson, good for No. 3 in the state for the firearms typical category for the year. In addition, this big-buck factory also produced the No. 6 scoring buck for the year in the firearms non-typical category. Michael Fowler harvested his 192 1/8 bruiser with a shotgun, and Parke County also produced the No. 9 archery typical buck in Danny Jacks' 161 2/8 trophy.

James Hawk used a muzzleloader to down Orange County's new typical firearms record buck. His 171 7/8 buck is also big enough for No. 4 in the category for 2004. Brad Williams' Putnam County deer is the No. 2 overall archery typical buck for the year. Its score of 176 4/8 is good enough for the all-time B&C book; this is no small feat for an archer, and is the county's new archery typical record, too. It will also find a home in the all-time top 10 for bow typicals.

Coming in right behind this buck at No. 3 for 2004 bow typicals is Mark Hildebrand's new Scott County archery record 169 3/8 buck. Owen County produced the No. 6 bow typical of the year for Josh Walls. This new county-record archery buck scores 167 1/8.

Other giant typicals harvested in the zone include Richard House's shotgun 170 1/8 Greene County brute. This is the No. 6 firearms typical of the year. Coming in at No. 8, just two places and less than an inch behind Richard's buck, is Nathan Scott's Putnam County muzzleloader buck, which scores 169 5/8.

Scott Marstellar harvested the No. 4 firearms non-typical for the year in Putnam County. This 195 0/8 monster was taken with a shotgun. Next on that list, at No. 5, is 11-year-old hunter Kory Wait's 194 4/8 trophy, which he harvested with his dad's muzzleloader at Muscatatuck in Jackson County.

Last, but certainly not least, is Jonathon Ray's Jackson County non-typical, which is No. 11 for the year in the firearms non-typical category. This buck scores a very impressive 182 2/8. J.C. Linville also harvested the No. 11 firearms typical for 2004 with a muzzleloader in Owen County, which scores 166 7/8.

2004's TOP QUALIFIERS FOR THE HOOSIER RECORD BUCK PROGRAM*
Hunter's Name

County (Zone)

Score

Typical Bucks, Firearms
Ray JonesShelby (4)181 7/8
Bobby V. HardwickMartin (6)180 1/8
Neil DickersonParke (6)172 3/8
J

ames K. Hawk

Orange (6)171 7/8
Jack W. SchuermanSwitzerland171 1/8
Richard E. HouseGreene (6)170 1/8
Brennan ChandlerSpencer (7)169 7/8
Nathan ScottPutnam (6)169 5/8
Non-Typical Bucks, Firearms
David BrasseurMartin (6)213 5/8
Shane T. SilverNoble (1)206 1/8
Charles H. HarveyDelaware (4)202 1/8
Scott C. MarstellerPutnam (6)195 0/8
Kory WaitJackson (6)194 4/8
Michael FowlerParke (6)192 1/8
Michael A. BeckleyWabash (3)188 5/8
Adam O'ConnerDeKalb (1)187 4/8
Tony WheelerClay (7)184 2/8
Jimmy HampsonMarshall (1)183 0/8
Typical Bucks, Archery
Mark A. BonnewellRipley (5)183 3/8
Brad WilliamsPutnam (6)176 4/8
Mark A. HildebrandScott (6)169 3/8
Paul J. Pula Jr.Sullivan (7)167 6/8
Travis SkinnerJefferson (5)167 6/8
Josh WallsOwen (6)167 1/8
Frank ChesherHenry (4)165 5/8
Non-Typical Bucks, Archery
Brian K. BerrisfordParke (6)195 0/8
Chris AddisonNoble (1)193 2/8
Joseph A. HirstDelaware (4)184 5/9
Randy SpeicherMadison (4)172 7/8
Jerry L. ReynardJay (3)172 6/8
Chad SchauLa Porte (2)169 4/8
Stephen J. JenkinsonTippecanoe (4)165 5/8
Terry BrantleyMiami (4)160 7/8
*This is not a complete trophy listing

ZONE 7

In the southwestern corner of the state is Zone 7. This zone traditionally yields some very outstanding bucks, and usually plenty of them. It produced 30 entries for the program in 2004. Those counties that turned in at least three HRBP entries for the year were Spencer (6), Daviess (6), Sullivan (4), Vigo (4) and Clay (3).

Brennan Chandler killed the No. 7 firearms typical buck of the year in Spencer County. This 169 7/8 buck just misses the all-time B&C book by a wink, but is an outstanding buck nonetheless. Shannon Davidson also shot an excellent typical in Vigo County. This 167 1/8 buck was No. 10 in the category for the year and was harvested with a shotgun.

Tony Wheeler took his 184 2/8 non-typical with a shotgun in Clay County, ranking it as the No. 9 buck for the state in 2004 in its category. Paul Pula Jr. took the No. 4 archery typical of the year in Sullivan County, a 167 6/8 beauty.

Another significant typical firearms kill occurred at the Newport Chemical Depot in Vermillion County for electrician Mike Biggs. The hunt took place during the depot's special muzzleloader hunt. Biggs' buck scores 164 7/8. A 177 3/8 non-typical buck was harvested by shotgunner Eli Hendricks in Vigo County, and Robert Mills took a 175 3/8 non-typical with a muzzleloader in Pike County.

There you have it -- the listing of where many of the mega-bucks of 2004 were harvested. With an improvement in the age structure of our bucks, it is no secret that more and more of them will continue to turn up over the next couple of years. While it has always been a possibility to harvest such a buck in our state, the results of the one-buck rule have begun to show. Have a safe and successful 2005 season!

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