It’s safe to say that every hunter in New England heads into the woods on opening day hoping for a shot at a record-class buck. Statistically the odds for success are low, with only a handful of top-scoring deer ending up in the record books each season. However, every hunter out there has an equal shot at the brass ring. The bottom line in successful trophy hunting in New England is to hunt hard, hunt often, pass on does and small bucks and be ready to take that all-important shot when the opportunity arises.
In an effort to add energy, enthusiasm and impetus to every New England deer hunter in 2018, here’s a look at three of the biggest archery bucks taken in the region last season. These hunters did their homework, and each came home with a tremendous buck that will grace their den walls for decades to come. With luck, perseverance and persistence you could be next.
C. Miles Whyte Buck
“It was the best hunting spot I had in Massachusetts’ Dukes County for the 2017 season,” Miles Whyte recalled. “As difficult as I knew it would be to keep from over hunting it, I was going to treat it like my best spot and hunt it only once or twice the whole season. Most importantly, I was going to hunt it only when I felt like it was the perfect time.”
Whyte had been hunting this particular buck — an absolute giant, for what felt like a lifetime. On the morning of Nov. 15, 2017, all the stars finally aligned. “I climbed into my stand around 6 a.m., just as the sun was starting to come up,” Whyte said. “It is rare for me to get into the stand so late, but from what I could tell from my scouting most of the buck movement in the area was happening between 8:30 and 11 a.m. Before getting into the stand I sprinkled some doe urine on a scent wick and put it near a scrape where I would have a good shot quartering away.”
Whyte continued, “After approximately 45 minutes of sitting I saw my first deer, a decent buck, but not the big one,” Whyte said. “At about 9:15 a.m. I spotted the buck I was after. He was about 50 yards away, downwind and coming right to me. I picked up my bow as slowly as I could and clipped on my release. Without breaking stride he nosed the air as if keying in on the doe urine. I had a camera mounted to my quiver, but it was so still I didn’t dare make the movement to reach up and turn it on.”
“As the buck got within 20 yards he started to slow down and began to act a little more on edge,” Whyte recalled. “My plan was to let him walk past me so that I had a quartering away shot, but he had not read the script. At approximately 10 yards he stopped walking, as if a sixth sense told him something wasn’t right. He stopped and turned 180 degrees and began to walk back in the direction he had come from. As he turned around I came to full draw. About 15 yards away I stopped him with a mouth grunt and picked out a single hair on his body with my sight pin. I squeezed my release and let the arrow fly. Thwack. The shaft hit exactly where I wanted it to, driving up into the chest cavity.”
The buck bolted down the trail for 80 yards and then fell to the ground. At that moment Whyte breathed in deeply to calm his nerves. “I just sat and stared at him from my tree stand, completely in shock,” Whyte said. “As I got out of my stand and slowly walked toward the buck, I enjoyed every step of the way. When I got to him all I could say was, “Wow.”
Whyte’s massive non-typical grossed 205 4/8 inches and netted 195 3/8 inches. Its typical 13-point frame grosses 190 5/8 inches, with main beams of 25 7/8 inches right and 27 4/8 inches left, separated by a 20 2/8 inches inside spread. Five tines measured between 7 5/8 and 8 4/8 inches. Mass was outstanding, with an average of 6 inches for each measurement. There are an additional eight abnormal points (five on the right and three on the left) that add 14 7/8 inches to the final gross score. Whyte’s buck not only tied the typical archery state record at 190 5/8 inches, it could have been the state record in both categories — typical or non-typical.
Rich Lincourt Buck
Berkshire County resident Rich Lincourt also knows about hunting hard, searching for whitetails on some of the most contested public land in New England. Lincourt spent most of a decade poring over topographic maps and using digital cameras to survey potentially productive areas. “I finally moved my stand into what I thought was a pretty good area,” he said. “A small saddle, barely perceptible even when standing on it, sliced through a thick, young oak stand. It was immediately clear that this was the travel corridor bucks were using in November to traverse the ridge.”
Lincourt decided to move his ladder stand in June to give the area plenty of time to rest.
By the end of October 2017, Lincourt had logged two hunts in the new spot without seeing a buck. Nevertheless, his confidence remained high in the setup. “It took everything I had to not hunt that Thursday or Friday evening, but knowing that the year’s first substantial cold front was coming, I decided to wait,” Lincourt said.
On Nov. 4, 2017, temperatures hovered slightly above freezing with a full moon sinking in the gray light of dawn. At around 7:30 a.m. Lincourt noticed movement through the timber to his left. He had time to grab his bow and clip on his release before looking up to see a wide-bodied deer just 50 yards away.
“The buck was coming at a steady walk,” he said. “As it got closer I noticed one drop tine and heavy mass on his right side. When I saw that drop tine I immediately shifted my focus on his rib cage.” When the deer passed behind a series of trees, Lincourt came to full draw and found his anchor point. As the deer trotted into one of Lincourt’s shooting lanes at 25 yards, he attempted to stop the cruising buck.
“I gave a mouth bleat but he didn’t stop. I gave him two more before he broke stride,” he said.
As the buck paused slightly quartering away, Lincourt settled his pin on the vitals and released the arrow. “I saw the arrow bury itself exactly where I wanted it to go,” Lincourt said. After running full out for 40 yards, the deer paused, wavered and crumbled in a heap.
I came unglued,” Lincourt admitted. “Every piece of me starting shaking. I was shaking so bad I couldn’t get my bow back on the bow holder.” When he looked away to place his bow on its hanger, Lincourt lost sight of where the buck had gone down. In a panic, he scoured the tapestry of fall leaves for a glimpse of the November giant.
“For the next 10 minutes I was saying, ‘Please, please, please!’ into my gloved hand,” he said.
After 50 painstaking minutes had passed, Lincourt climbed out of his stand, nocked an arrow and walked to the point of impact. Immediately, his spirits were buoyed by the sight of bright red blood sprayed on both sides of the trail. “With the amount of blood that was on the ground I knew I was in good shape,” Lincourt said. “When I looked up and saw antlers I knew it was all over.”
Lincourt’s non-typical grossed 194 6/8 inches and netted 187 6/8. The typical 8-point frame grosses 166 5/8 with main beams of 27 0/8 right and 26 1/8 left separated by an 18 1/8 inside spread. Two tines were over 10 inches and just over 45 inches of mass. The buck’s typical frame was complemented by six abnormal points totaling 28 1/8 inches.
Mark Hiller Buck
In 2015 Fairfield, Connecticut, crossbow hunter Mark Hiller acquired a new spot to hunt and almost immediately discovered a nice 12-pointer on his trail camera. “I only hunted this spot when the wind was right but never had a daytime picture of this deer nor did I ever see him that season,” Hiller said. In 2016, it was basically the same scenario. Lots of night-time pictures but no daytime encounters.
By 2017, Hiller’s mystery buck had grown into a 19-point non-typical. “A close friend of mine acquired the property right next door and after he set up, he instantly had this deer on his camera, which by this time is a 19-pointer,” Hiller said. “My friend was so fixated on getting this deer that he went out every morning and evening, all season, in hopes of getting him.” Knowing this, Hiller decided not to hunt his property. “I said to my buddy, Jay, “He’s all yours.”
“A few days later, I received a call from a landowner asking me if I would be interested in hunting his property, which was approximately 1 1/2 miles away,” Hiller said. “I went that Sunday to check out the property and realized it was a great area for hunting. That Tuesday I hung my stand there. Friday, I went to hunt it for the first time.”
“As I was driving to the property and about one-quarter mile away I spotted a large buck chasing a doe. I immediately called Jay and said, “I just saw the big boy for the first time, live and in the daytime!”
Hiller drove the last quarter mile to his property, hurried into his stand and waited. At about 3:45 p.m., four does came out from the same direction where he saw the buck down the road. As he watched them feed, the big buck came crashing across the river and started chasing the does. Miraculously, the does turned and ran right under him, bringing the biggest deer he’d ever set his eyes on into his shooting lane.
It was an easy 25-yard shot for Hiller’s TenPoint crossbow. “My arrow went through both lungs,” Hiller said. “He ran no more than 30 yards and he was mine. He had broken off one antler point since my buddy’s picture of him earlier in the season. My first call was to my buddy Jay, of course,” Hiller laughs. “Finally, after three years of seeing this big boy in pictures I had my shot at him. I realize that this is a buck of 10 lifetimes and I am honored to have had the opportunity to take such a majestic buck.”
According to Northeast Big Buck Club scorers, Hiller’s non-typical Connecticut crossbow buck posted a gross score of 189 7/8 inches and a net score of 177 3/8 inches.
The common thread connecting all of these tremendous New England bucks is that each hunter spent considerable time researching the areas he planned to hunt and spent even more time with boots on the ground studying the habitat, deer sign and topography in an effort to find the best place to set up for deer season.
Additionally, all three hunters were careful not to overhunt their areas. Finally, each hunter picked the best possible day to hunt and intended to be on stand all day if necessary in order to take advantage of the prime conditions. Learn from these hunters and maybe your buck will be featured here in 2018.