Indiana Deer Outlook -- Part 2: Finding Trophy Bucks

Indiana Deer Outlook -- Part 2: Finding Trophy Bucks

These days it seems more Hoosier hunters are coming across and bagging true trophy whitetails throughout our state. Is a top trophy area near you? (November 2007)

Photo by Mike Lambeth.

Indiana always has had the potential to produce big whitetail bucks, but only recently has the state begun to show this true possibility through modern deer management practices. Lost in all the hoopla surrounding the modern big-buck craze is the importance of harvesting female deer. It's common knowledge among many of today's highly educated deer hunters that harvesting does is nearly as important as passing up young bucks in order to have more mature, trophy-class bucks statewide.

While the one-buck rule no doubt deserves much of the credit for this recent upswing in big-buck production in our state, the increased annual antlerless harvest needs to be recognized for its contribution to this phenomenon as well.

During the 2006 deer season, a record 36 percent of antlerless deer killed were adult does as determined by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Some hunters mistakenly think that killing too many does will have a deleterious effect on the production of mature bucks, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

Science has proved repeatedly that the best, healthiest herds are those that have a more balanced buck-to-doe ratio, and are herds in which many members (both sexes of each age class) are well represented. Nature intended for there to be a balance in white-tailed deer herds.

If you live in an area that is still overpopulated with deer, don't hesitate to fill those antlerless tags. By doing so, you'll end up improving your overall hunting in your area. Whitetails are prolific breeders and can repopulate an area in short order. In some instances, it's better to harvest too many does, than not enough. An added bonus to doe harvest is the excellent venison that it provides.

Here is the list of those Indiana hunters who realized the ultimate dream of harvesting a huge-racked buck last year.

ZONE 1

This extreme northeastern zone is of Indiana is characterized by its fertile lowland soils. The area is famous for its numerous lakes, rivers, creeks, swamps, wetlands and pothole black swamps.

The wood lot habitat and occasional Conservation Reserve Program lands in this region have kicked out some great bucks over the years. Historically, Zone 1 has turned out some outstanding bucks, but the zone surprisingly didn't produce many top bucks in 2006. It produced 27 entries last year as compared with 42 the year before.

The top buck in the zone was Thomas Zimmer's muzzleloader non-typical, which scored 190 0/8. It ranked No. 8 for the year in its category and was taken in Marshall County. Bill Lortie took a non-typical that scored 182 7/8 with a muzzleloader while hunting in Noble County. Donald Hill bagged his muzzleloader non-typical, which scored 179 5/8, in nearby DeKalb County.

The top typical harvested in the zone was Michael Fackson's buck, which scored 157 7/8 and was shot in Marshall County. Phillip Harreld also killed a Marshall County typical with shotgun, which measured 157 0/8.

Kosciusko County led the zone in 2006 with seven total entries. DeKalb, Noble and Steuben all tallied five entries apiece, while Marshall produced four entries. Elkhart County produced a single entry.

ZONE 2

Zone 2 covers the western side of the upper region of the state. The northern portion of the zone is characterized by its sandy soils and abundant industrial capacity. The southern half of the zone lies in the northernmost section of the Till Plains region, and is characterized by darker, more fertile soils that are excellent for agricultural crop and deer production.

This zone has produced some real whopper bucks over the years. While the urbanization of the northern section continues in earnest, it still harbors some great bucks. The southern portion of the zone can really produce some outstanding bucks as well.

The top buck harvested in the zone last season was Mark Culver's White County muzzleloader buck. This Boone and Crockett (B&C) typical measured in at 171 3/8 and ranks No. 5 for the year in its category. Muzzleloader hunter Scott Banghart killed another great typical. His trophy 162 1/8 dandy hails from LaPorte County. LaPorte also produced a 154 4/8 shotgun typical for Archie Bowen.

The top non-typical from the zone was Jeffrey Wardell's archery buck, which scored 166 3/8. This LaPorte County beauty ranks at No. 8 in that category for the year. LaPorte also produced a 165 6/8 shotgun non-typical for Mike Birkholtz.

LaPorte County led all Zone 2 counties with seven entries for 2006. Fulton County came in next with three entries, while St. Joseph, White and Newton counties all produced two apiece. Jasper, Porter, Cass, Pulaski and Lake counties all kicked in one entry apiece.

ZONE 3

While the extreme northernmost edge of this zone lies in the Great Lakes Plains region, the majority of it is inside the fertile Till Plains region of the state. The area is noted for its low hills and valleys and its fertile river bottom soils. While this zone doesn't boast the number of deer that its sister zone to the north does, it has the potential to produce some real big whitetail bucks. The zone produced 11 entries for the year compared with 14 the previous year.

The top buck for the zone in 2006 was Ryan Osbun's shotgun typical, which scored 170 5/8. This B&C Whitley County 10-pointer ranks No. 7 for the year statewide. This same county also produced another fine typical for shotgun hunter Matt Ridenour, which scored 165 4/8.

Wabash County produced another good typical for shotgun-toting Jimmy Wallen. His buck scored 163 2/8. The zone did not produce any non-typical bucks for any of its hunters at the time of this writing, but Lynn Selking found a 187 7/8 non-typical dead in Allen County.

Whitley and Wabash counties tied for top ranking in the zone with four entries apiece. Allen, Huntington and Jay counties all produced a single entry each.

ZONE 4

The huge swath of real estate that makes up Zone 4, in central Indiana, consists almost entirely of counties that exist in the famous Tipton Till Plains region of our state. The Till Plains is noted for its fertile lowland soils and agricultural production. In fact, this area is part of a larger section of land that makes up the Midwestern Corn Belt.

While the area is perhaps the most intensively farme

d section of the state, it can produce huge whitetail bucks. This area of the state has improved dramatically as far as producing big bucks in recent years. With improved management strategies, the region is really coming on strong. The zone produced 41 entries last year compared with 57 the previous year. It also accounted for nine of the top 40 bucks in 2006.

The top typical from the zone was Marcus Otto's 174 6/8 B&C Miami County brute. This buck ranks No. 1 for the year in the archery typical category. The second biggest typical in the zone was Lyle Friend's shotgun buck taken in Decatur County. This B&C bucks ranks No. 6 for the year statewide and scored 171 1/8.

Another great typical, killed by shotgun hunter Braden Kitchel in Carroll County, scored 166 4/8. Tipton County produced the No. 6 archery typical in Skip Servies' 161 5/8 buck; and No. 7 in the same category for the year was Brian Hartsock's 160 7/8 Hendricks County bruiser.

The top non-typical for the year in the zone was Allan Miller's shotgun-killed 212 1/8 B&C monster from Hendricks County, ranking No. 2 statewide for the year in its category. Nick Inglis harvested the No. 10 non-typical for the year in Madison County, which scored 183 5/8.

Zone 4 also produced three of the top archery-killed non-typicals for the year as well. Teenager Chad Compton arrowed his 206 6/8 monster in Tippecanoe County; Christopher Kendall arrowed his 201 2/8 buck in Hancock County; and Thomas Wright arrowed his 192 4/8 buck in Grant County. These bucks ranked in at Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

Hendricks, Tippecanoe and Decatur counties all produced four entries apiece to lead the zone. Madison, Warren and Carroll counties produced three entries each. Several counties also produced two entries apiece. They were Hancock, Grant, Montgomery, Miami, Johnson, Shelby, Boone, Wayne and Fountain. Marion, Randolph and Tipton counties each produced one entry apiece.

ZONE 5

Zone 5 lies in southeastern Indiana and is the first zone to inhabit the Southern Plains and Lowlands areas. The glaciers of the northern part of Indiana didn't make it this far south and it is for this reason that the hills and hollows of southern Indiana exist today.

Also, these "knobs" that were not touched by the glaciers of the past are heavily wooded these days. This is one reason that the area has produced so many fine bucks over the years. Whitetails tend to have more escape cover in this area of the state, and the record books reflect this fact.

The zone produced seven of the top 40 bucks in Hoosierland in 2006. Overall, Zone 5 accounted for 31 entries for the year compared with 37 the year before. Archer Chris Robbins harvested the top overall archery non-typical for the year in Switzerland County. This B&C bruiser scored 213 6/8 and is the new state record in the HRBP record book.

Ranking No. 1 for the year in the firearms non-typical category was Ohio shotgun hunter Johnny Thacker's 215 0/8 Franklin County B&C buck. Another great B&C non-typical, ranking No. 3 for the year, was taken in Jennings County by Greg Hopper with a shotgun. His buck scored 202 7/8.

HRBP scorer Chris Fischvogt killed the No. 5 archery non-typical. This Jennings County beauty scored 190 4/8. Gregory Stewart Sr. took his No. 6 ranking archery non-typical for the year in the same county, which scored 178 4/8. Tobey Woolwine killed the No. 7 archery non-typical for the year in nearby Dearborn County, which scored 167 4/8.

The top typical for the zone, and ranking No. 10 for the year in the firearms typical category, is William Field's 168 3/8 Jennings County buck.

Jennings and Franklin counties tied for first place in the zone with seven entries apiece. Switzerland County accounted for five entries, while Dearborn and Ripley both tallied in three entries apiece. Jefferson County accounted for two entries, while Randolph, Fayette and Franklin counties chipped in one apiece.

ZONE 6

This south-central zone also lies in the Southern Plains and Lowlands area, and like its neighboring zone to the east is heavily wooded. The hills, knobs and hollows here are also famous for producing many outstanding bucks over the years. Zone 6 produced 60 entries for 2006 compared with 61 the year before; it also produced a record 10 of the top 40 bucks for the year statewide.

Shotgun hunter Richard Vierling killed the top typical in the state for the year. This Harrison County B&C monster scored 181 2/8. Denis Petit killed another B&C giant while hunting in Parke County. It scored 176 0/8 and ranks No. 4 for the year in its firearms category. The No. 8 typical in that same category was harvested by shotgun hunter Steven Buckallew in Parke County. His buck scored 168 6/8.

Chris Thomas took the No. 4 shotgun non-typical from Parke County, which scored 198 3/8. The Nos. 5, 6 and 7 firearms non-typicals for the year were also taken in Zone 6. A 193 7/8 buck was killed by handgun hunter Merrill Wiseman Jr. in Harrison County; a 193 0/8 buck was taken by shotgun hunter Westley Austin in Crawford County; and shotgun hunter John Vowell harvested a 192 0/8 buck from Greene County.

Chris Brotherton killed the No. 2 archery typical for the year. This Putnam County B&C brute scored 173 7/8. George Alexander killed the No. 3 bow typical in Morgan County, which scored 165 0/8. The No. 4 bow typical for 2006 was killed by Jeremy Hill in Perry County and measured 163 6/8. Another great typical, a 165 5/8 Washington County buck, was killed by shotgun hunter Robert Carl.

Parke County led the way for the zone, and tied Pike County for statewide honors, with eight total entries. Greene County produced seven entries, while Dubois and Putnam counties both produced six entries each. Orange and Perry counties both produced five entries for the season.

Harrison and Crawford counties tallied four each, while Jackson and Lawrence counties chipped in three each. Washington, Morgan, Martin and Bartholomew counties registered two apiece. Rounding out the zone were Owen and Scott counties with one entry each.

ZONE 7

This zone lays in the southwestern most corner of the Southern Plains and Lowlands region and is also a part of the southern Indiana hill region. With heavy stands of timber, rugged hills and intermixed farmland, the area produces some outstanding bucks.

The zone produced 27 total entries for the year compared with 29 in 2005. Terry Gibbs killed the No. 2 firearms buck for the year with a muzzleloader. This Posey County B&C monster scored 179 7/8.

Kurt Coleman was next in line at No. 3 with another giant typical muzzleloader buck as well. His buck scored 179 0/8 and was killed in Pike County. Glenn Clinkenbeard killed his 168 3/8 typical in Vigo County with a muzzleloader. Archer Jack Fields II took another great typical. His 162 5/8 buck was taken in Vigo County as well and ranks No. 5 in its category for the year.

The top non-typical from the zone was tak

en by shotgun hunter Michael Van Horn. His buck measured 187 7/8 and was harvested in Clay County. A 181 1/8 scoring buck was taken by muzzleloader hunter Adam Osborne in Posey County.

Pike County led the way in the zone, and tied with Parke County for top honors with eight entries in 2006. Vermillion County tallied four entries, while Daviess, Vigo and Clay counties all registered three apiece. Posey County produced two entries, and Clay, Knox, Spencer and Warrick counties all kicked in one each.

More hunters are warming up to the idea of harvesting surplus does in their hunting areas, in conjunction with passing on young, immature bucks. The benefits of these modern management practices are manifesting themselves in more big-racked bucks roaming the woodlands of Indiana. Here is hoping that you have a great deer season in 2007, and possibly will harvest that buck of a lifetime as well.

Find more about Indiana fishing and hunting at: IndianaGameandFish.com

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.