Top Missouri Trophy Bucks of 2010

Missouri's deer hunters are preparing for another awesome fall in which they might tag that once-in-a-lifetime buck. There are more opportunities than ever for hunters to kill a record-book whitetail in the Show Me State.

This article features the accounts of five hunters who killed monster bucks in Missouri during the most recent deer season. Combined, those racks total 844 4/8 inches of antler! That's an average of more than 168 inches each!

Read on to relive the exciting stories of how these Missouri trophy bucks went down.

MATT KEENEY

BOLLINGER COUNTY

Matt Keeney of Marble Hill grew up deer hunting in the Van Buren area but moved north as an adult to Bollinger County where he now hunts on a private 500-acre farm. He's been hunting the same tract of land for the past 10 years.

On Nov. 13, opening day of Missouri's 2010 firearms deer season, Keeney hunted from the ground in an open area where you could see a couple of hundred yards straight away between two patches of timber. The gap between the timber is only about 75 yards wide, and so you've got to be on your toes as deer can get through the clearing rather quickly. The area has always been a good crossing to watch for deer in the past and that's why he chose that spot on the farm for opening day.

Keeney saw seven deer early in the morning including two bucks — a decent 8-pointer and a fork-horn. He wasn't about to shoot a mediocre buck early in the season because he saw a true giant in full velvet in August. The neighbors had trail camera pictures of the monster too.

Opening morning was turning out to be a good one with plenty of deer action. But it was about to get a lot better when two does made their way across the opening at about 10 a.m.

"I thought the way the does were acting that there might be a buck behind them," Keeney said. "A minute later a huge buck stepped out of the timber about 80 yards away."

The bruiser buck began herding up his does, pushing them in whatever direction he wanted them to go. Keeney picked a place ahead of where they were going. He had to act quickly because the buck was almost through the clearing and getting close to the timber on the other side. If the buck got in the woods it would be almost impossible to get a shot at it.

When the big-antlered buck stepped into Keeney's sights, he settled the crosshairs on the deer's shoulder and fired his Stevens bolt-action .308 and the buck dropped on the spot.

"I never saw a buck like this in the woods," Keeney said. "I didn't have too much time to get overly excited when I first saw him, but when I walked up to him I could hardly believe it."

The big Bollinger County 16-pointer officially measured 185 4/8 net as a B&C non-typical!

ERIC CASSINGER

ST. CHARLES COUNTY

Eric Cassinger of Old Monroe is an avid waterfowl and deer hunter. With a diehard passion for both, he is always torn between deer and duck hunting seasons. It's very difficult for him to give up one for the other.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Cassinger was hunting with his brother Wally and they both limited out. The ducks and deer were moving well that day. While duck hunting, Cassinger's father-in-law, Tim Westhoff, called him and said there was a 150-class buck headed toward his stand. Cassinger told his father-in-law that he wasn't in his stand but in a duck blind instead. Westhoff wasn't real happy because he would have shot the buck himself if he knew that Cassinger wasn't in his deer stand!

The next morning, Cassinger was torn between duck hunting and deer hunting. He knew he could go with his brother again and slaughter a limit of ducks, but then again a 150-class buck had just walked by his deer stand the day before.

Cassinger opted for the deer hunting that morning. He was hunting his in-law's 80-acre tract in the bottomland of the Mississippi River in St. Charles County. Westhoff let him hunt his box blind stand that sits about 10 feet off the ground and overlooks thick bottomland timber choked with buckbrush, oaks and sycamores.

Although it hadn't been daylight very long, at about 7 a.m. nothing was happening in the deer woods and Cassinger considered climbing out of the stand and going duck hunting. Fortunately, he decided not to. Just 15 minutes later he saw a deer moving through the brush.

"I grabbed my rifle because even if it was a doe I had a bonus tag," Cassinger said. "By the time I shouldered it, the deer stepped out into a shooting lane."

Cassinger instantly knew the deer was a trophy buck. The broad, heavy rack the deer sported didn't leave any question about it. He fired one shot from his Remington Model 700 .30/06; the buck hunkered up and bolted.

Huge tufts of deer hair were floating in the air where he shot at the huge buck. Cassinger knew he hit the deer but didn't know how well. Westhoff, the veteran deer hunter, came to help him look for the buck. He knew that if they pushed the deer too hard he could wind up in a nearby duck lake and they'd never recover it.

The hunters began looking for blood and found just a few drops. However, 20 yards later the faint blood trail exploded to a six-foot wide swath. The huge buck was piled up only 75 yards away.

"I said, 'Oh my God! Look at the size of this deer,'" Cassinger recalled. "I thought the buck's head was propped up on something — its antlers were so wide."

Cassinger and Westhoff celebrated the fall of the huge 10-pointer, which was the biggest ever killed on the Westhoff property. The incredible buck would wind up "officially" scoring 161 0/8 as a B&C typical!

Once they took it back to the house Cassinger's mother-in-law, Teresa immediately recognized the deer as a buck they had captured on trail camera on a different part of their property in October.

"This is my best deer ever by far," Cassinger said. "I honestly doubt that I will ever kill one this big again, but I sure hope to."

KEVIN LEE

ST. LOUIS COUNTY

Kevin Lee of Cedar Hill has been chasing whitetails for the past 30 years. He got laid off from work on Oct. 29 and utilized every minute he had to his benefit in the deer woods.

Lee had been bowhunting on 800 acres of private property near the St. Louis/Jefferson County line nearly every day since his layoff. The majority of the habitat on that property is timbered ridges and hillsides. Although sign was plentiful he wasn't seeing anything but forkhorns, spikes and a couple of immature 8- and 10-pointers from his two hang-on stands and a ground blind. He wasn't interested in shooting those lesser deer since he had so much time to hunt.

Once the firearms deer season was about to start, Lee was suffering from a virus. That didn't keep him out of the woods though. He knew he'd have a good chance of shooting a trophy with a firearm where he was hunting.

On the fourth day of firearms season, Lee almost didn't go out in the woods but at the last minute decided to go anyway. He got to his makeshift blind at a waterhole before daylight. Just 15 minutes after dawn a big buck appeared at a distance of 50 yards, walking away from the excited hunter.

The buck turned and started walking downhill right toward Lee. At a distance of just 30 yards, the big buck dropped down into a ravine and out of sight.

"It got real quiet," Lee recalled. "It seems like it took over a half hour but just a few minutes later he popped up 30 yards away and getting closer with each step."

When the buck got to within 20 yards, Lee took aim with the 2x7 scope that sat atop his Thompson Center Contender handgun in .30/30 Ackley-Improved caliber. The big buck took four big bounds, went down into another gulley and crashed after the blast from the Contender echoed across the property.

Kevin Lee's giant handgun-killed buck has 25 points as a mainframe 8-pointer. It had 27- and 28-inch main beams respectively, and heavy mass throughout. Although still unofficially measured at press time, it green scores right at 180 inches!

"I had to sit down for a few minutes because I was shocked," Lee said. "I didn't realize just how big he was until I walked up to him. All kinds of emotions run through your mind."

LEE SCHMIDT

BATES COUNTY

Lee Schmidt of Adrian started deer hunting in 1965 and has learned a lot about whitetails over the last 45 years. He's no stranger to killing trophies and his first really big deer was a 13-pointer taken in 1987 that scored 143 3/8 inches.

The 2010 Missouri firearms season sneaked up on Schmidt and he wasn't really prepared for the hunt. About a month before the season started, he set out a popup blind about 400 yards behind his house where a hedgerow meets a little block of timber near a small creek. Keep in mind that this property is less than a mile from the city limits of Adrian and was supposed to be a backup hunting spot in case he didn't have time to go anyplace else.

Opening morning dawned wet and cool. Schmidt found himself hunting alone from the "backup" blind. At about 6:45 a.m., he saw a buck about 70 yards away.

The buck's main beams appeared massive and Schmidt decided that it was good enough to be legal and decided to shoot it. By then the deer was 94 yards away. Schmidt shouldered his Thompson Center Encore, centered the sights on the buck's shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The deer dropped where it stood.

"I've hunted back behind my house before but I never looked at it as a real good hunting spot," Schmidt said. "It was just a backup spot in case I didn't have time to go anyplace else. I never had any idea there was a buck like this back there."

The "Freak Nasty" buck, as Schmidt and company have nicknamed the deer, weighed 201 pounds field-dressed and had 25 points, of which 20 were scorable. The net score of the buck is 174 1/8 inches as a non-typical.

Schmidt later found out that another local hunter named Brian had been hunting that buck on an adjacent property. Brian had a couple of trail-cam pictures of Schmidt's trophy and also found a set of sheds that score in the mid-190s. It's likely they are from Freak Nasty too.

TIM SCHMIDT

ST. LOUIS COUNTY

Tim Schmidt of St. Charles is a dedicated bowhunter. He utilizes every chance he has to be in the deer woods with his Hoyt Cyber Tech bow.

On Oct. 27, 2010, Schmidt had a couple of hours left after work to bowhunt and so he went hunting in nearby St. Louis County. He walked into the narrow patch of woods behind his friend's house where he chose to hunt from the ground.

It was very windy and warm that afternoon. Schmidt wasn't in the woods very long before he heard a deer approaching. He readied himself and watched as a nice rack appeared over the crest of the ridge.

The big 8-pointer walked by Schmidt broadside at a distance of just 5 yards! It stopped at 7 yards and started urinating on the ground. It was then that Schmidt heard another deer coming from where the 8-pointer had materialized.

"I slowly turned around and was looking face to face with a huge buck staring at me just 3 yards away!" Schmidt said. "We stared each other down and I tried not to focus on the rack."

Schmidt knew it was a big buck with at least 5 points on one side. The monster whitetail began stepping backward down the bank of the creek that Schmidt was overlooking. Once the buck was just out of sight, Schmidt took his can call and gave out a bleat. The buck circled down below the anxious hunter into the creek and walked right to where Schmidt had a scent wick out. At a distance of just 12 yards Schmidt released his arrow tipped with a 100-grain, 4-blade, Slick Trick broadhead.

The buck bolted up the creek and out of sight. Schmidt heard it continue on to about 75 or 100 yards but then heard nothing else. He waited about a half-hour and then went down to the creek to check for sign. He found a lot of blood but no arrow.

Schmidt had a meeting pending that night so he opted to back out of the woods and take up the trail of his trophy later that evening. At about 10 p.m. he and his buddy went back to the blood trail and quickly followed it to Schmidt's enormous 12-pointer with a 22 1/8-inch inside spread. Schmidt's impressive bow kill grossed 175 2/8 inches and after deductions netted 143 7/8 P&Y.

SUMMARY

The awesome accounts of these Missouri monster bucks should have you chomping at the bit to get into the deer woods this season. It just goes to show you that you never know when or where one of these giants will make an appearance.

Maybe you'll be featured in next year's big-buck roundup!

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