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Buck Report: Big Whitetails from the 2022 Deer Season (Updated)

Check out these big harvests from the 2022 white-tailed deer season.

Buck Report: Big Whitetails from the 2022 Deer Season (Updated)

Max Mongrello's awesome 13-point Iowa whitetail taken on Nov. 26 scored 170 7/8 inches. (Photo courtesy of Max Mongrello)

Here’s a look at big bucks tagged so far during the 2022 deer-hunting season. (Updated Dec. 5, 2022)

NOVEMBER

Opening Day Success in Pennsylvania

Amanda Baker Buck
Amanda Baker tagged this Pennsylvania buck on Nov. 26, the state's opening day of the gun season. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Baker)
  • Hunter: Amanda Baker
  • Date: Nov. 26, 2022
  • Location: Elk County, Pa.
  • Method: Rifle
  • Stats: 147 6/8"

Amanda Baker harvested this 10-point buck on the opening morning of Pennsylvania's rifle season on a family-owned property in Elk County, Pa. The buck stepped out into a cut cornfield at 7:20 a.m. Amanda promptly shouldered her rifle and placed a perfect shot that dropped the buck in his tracks. This buck was seen over the past several years on trail cameras, and Amanda and her family have had a long history with the deer. Amanda had made the 10-point her primary target for this rifle season, and she connected during the first hour! — Dustin Prievo

TAGGED OUT

Iowa Hunter Harvests Corn-Fed Giant

Max Mangrello Iowa Buck
Iowa bowhunter Max Mangrello arrowed this impressive buck on Nov. 26. (Photo courtesy of Max Mangrello)
  • Hunter: Max Mongrello
  • Date: Nov. 26, 2022
  • Location: Iowa County, Iowa
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 170 7/8"

Max Mongrello is a 25-year-old Southerner working to make his way in the Midwestern whitetail world. The Georgia native makes his living behind a camera filming hunts. His company, Maximum Exposure Productions, has done work for operations like Midwest Whitetail and Operation Impact 22.

"Operation Impact 22 takes disabled veterans on the hunt of a lifetime," Mongrello says. "They hunt for three or four days and get to see what Iowa whitetail hunting is all about. Many of these veterans are struggling mentally, and this experience is a huge pick-me-up. So not only do we want them to leave with a trophy buck, but also some helpful advice from guys who have been through it. It's an unbelievably rewarding thing to be a part of."


When he's not behind the camera, Mongrello spends his time working to punch his tags on trophy bucks. He did just that on Nov. 26 in Iowa County when he arrowed a 13-point giant that scored 170 7/8 inches.


"I got on this farm last year for the first time and had an encounter with him right away," Mongrello says. "My partner would have shot him, but he was on the wrong side of the fence. We watched him walk by us only six yards away."

The buck showed up on camera just once in the summer. Then, in October, he moved back into the area and was there until the end.

Mongrello says does have largely transitioned back to food over the last few days. And this is how he got a chance at his trophy.

"They're hammering cut corn and beans," the bowhunter says. "He came out following a group of four or five does. There were 40 does in the field and he pinpointed one. And a few little bucks were on her, too. When he came in range, I made the shot." — Brandon Butler




Persistence Pays Off in Tennessee

Nick Gatlin Buck
Tennessee hunter Nick Gatlin tagged this big buck on Thanksgiving Day. (Photo courtesy of Nick Gatlin)
  • Hunter: Nick Gatlin
  • Date: Nov. 24, 2022
  • Location: Lincoln County, Tenn.
  • Method: Rifle
  • Stats: 140 1/8"

Nick Gatlin recently hung his tag on a great Tennessee whitetail. Gatlin saw the buck last year and had gotten photos of the deer on trail cameras this season at night. However, he hadn't laid his eyes on the buck this year. Gatlin decided that if he saw the buck, he would take advantage of the encounter.

"His schedule was very sporadic, and he showed up on one of my cameras on November 20 while I was at church," Gatlin says. "I thought I had missed my chance. That Sunday morning was the only time I had a picture of him in daylight."

On Nov. 24, after hunting the buck for seven straight days, Gatlin got his opportunity. At 6:05 a.m., just minutes after legal shooting light, the big deer stepped into view.

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"I'm pretty certain I bumped him on the way to my stand," Gatlin says. "I could hear him running a doe and grunting across the cornfield before shooting light. As it got light enough to see, I saw the doe first and then he popped out. He was too far for a shot, so I let him work his way toward me. Once within range I stopped him with a grunt call."

Gatlin ranged the deer then squeezed off the 128-yard shot, which hit the mark. The deer fell upon impact.

"This buck means so much to me; it was the reward for perseverance and patience," Gatlin says. "I'm thankful to God for the blessing of letting me harvest this awesome animal in a heavily hunted area."

For Gatlin, it is his best Tennessee buck, his first 10-point and first piebald. — Josh Honeycutt

Super-Wide Maryland Stud Goes Down

Jason Rudden Maryland Buck
Jason Rudden's big 9-pointer had a 24-inch inside spread. (Photo courtesy of Jason Rudden)
  • Hunter: Jason Rudden
  • Date: Nov. 14, 2022
  • Location: Anne Arundel County, Md.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 9 points; 24-inch inside spread

Jason Rudden had never laid eyes on this buck until his trail camera captured three images of it on the night of Nov. 13. The following morning, Rudden was on stand as day broke. Early action consisted of two small bucks passing through the area. Then, around 8:10 a.m., Rudden noticed this buck coming across a creek, but thought it was a different deer he had been after.

Everything happened quickly after that, and the buck came in fast despite seeming tired and winded. He put his head down, grabbed a few bites of corn and kept moving. Rudden stopped the buck at 25 yards and sent a perfect shot into his chest.

Rudden gave the buck an hour before climbing down and finding it roughly 60 yards away. It wasn't until he noticed that the rack was sticking two feet above the ground that he realized this was the deer he'd had on camera the night before. — Dustin Prievo

Youth Gun Hunter Bags Buckeye Bruiser

Adam Wallace Ohio Buck
Adam Wallace, 13, shot this 8-pointer on Nov. 19 near Tipp City, Ohio. It was the biggest buck he has ever harvested. (Photo courtesy of Adam Wallace)
  • Hunter: Adam Wallace
  • Date: Nov. 19, 2022
  • Location: Tipp City, Ohio
  • Method: Rifle
  • Stats: 8 points (not scored)

John Wallace has dedicated his career to conservation. As Delta Waterfowl's Regional Director for Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, Wallace puts a lot of rubber on the road and spends more nights away from home than he'd like. The proud father shares three children, Adam (13), Wade (12) and Claire (8) with his wife, Jamie. The only thing Wallace cares about more than conservation is his family, and last weekend was a big one for the Wallace clan.

Since Wade had a football tournament out of town, John enlisted his outdoor mentor, his uncle Kevin Krimm, to take Adam out for Ohio's youth firearms season.

"Uncle Kevin was pretty much my outdoors influence," Wallace ways. "He introduced me to hunting deer, ducks, squirrels and pretty much everything outdoors. So, to have him now taking my children outdoors, it really means the world to me."

Great-uncle Kevin and Adam were only in the blind 10 minutes before two does appeared in the cut cornfield they were hunting. Another pair of does showed up around 30 minutes later.

"Uncle Kevin told me he could see five deer out of his window," Adam says. "We watched two small bucks fighting. Then another buck comes out into the field. Then my buck showed up, and we knew he was big. He chased a doe, then he had to chase all the bucks away because they were trying to steal his doe. He zigged and zagged out in the field, then he mounted the doe. After he got off of her, I shot him, but he went right back to chasing the doe. Then he started wobbling and going in a circle, and I knew I got him. It's the biggest deer I've ever been up and close to. It's bigger than anything my dad has shot."

John Wallace's children all have lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for Missouri, the state the family recently left to return to Wallace's hometown to be close to family. His familiar connections have allowed his boys to get right into the action in Ohio, though.

"We are very blessed to have family and friends who open their property up to these boys," Wallace says.

Another cool twist is John's cousin, Ernie Wallace, owns and operates Central Flyway Taxidermy. He'll be mounting Adam's deer, thus making this experience a total family affair. — Brandon Butler

Georgia Giant Hits the Dirt at Last Light

Hunter Rotarius Georgia Buck
Hunter Rotarius shot this huge Georgia whitetail along the edge of a cut cotton field. (Photo courtesy of Hunter Rotarius)
  • Hunter: Hunter Rotarius
  • Date: Nov. 17, 2022
  • Location: South-central Georgia
  • Method: Rifle
  • Stats: 168 3/4 inches (gross)

Georgia's Hunter Rotarius keeps a detailed inventory of the bucks on the property where he hunts. However, he had never laid eyes on this bruiser buck until the day he shot it.

On Nov. 17, after lunch, he climbed into an elevated blind along the edge of a cut cotton field. It was cold and crisp, so he suspected it might be a good afternoon.

With about 15 minutes of legal light left, he saw the big buck milling on the field edge. The buck was out beyond his comfort zone, so he waited patiently for it to move closer. When it got to within 150 yards, Rotarius calmed his nerves as best he could and squeezed off the shot, dropping the deer. However, the buck was still moving so Rotarius put a second round into it just in case.

"This deer is something I have dreamed of since I was introduced to hunting around the age of 4," Rotarius says. "I never thought I would have an opportunity at a buck of this quality, but having it was genuinely a life-changing experience. I'll remember this day and hunt forever."

Rotarius credits his dad, Jimmy Rotarius, and hunting buddy, Clay Turner, for the tireless work they do on the property to grow big deer.

"Without them, I would not have gotten a chance at this quality of a deer," he says. — Josh Honeycutt

New York Nightstalker Makes Daytime Appearance

NY 9-pointer
New York hunter RJ Booth had only seen this 9-pointer on nighttime trail-cam images until he tagged it on Nov. 7. (Photo courtesy of RJ Booth)
  • Hunter: RJ Booth
  • Date: Nov. 7, 2022
  • Location: Monroe County, N.Y.
  • Method: Crossbow
  • Stats: 9 points, plus stickers; 151” (rough score)

On the morning of Nov. 7, RJ Booth finally laid eyes on a buck he had previously only seen in nighttime trail-cam photos during the early part of the season. At 7:05 a.m., he watched the buck enter one of his food plots about 90 yards away from his stand and start chasing a doe. The buck then moved into a second food plot where a cellular trail camera sent him a close-up image of the buck.

A short while later, the doe he was with led the buck down a trail directly to RJ, who placed an arrow behind the shoulder on a hard quartering-away shot. The buck ran off into a thick patch of brush. RJ watched him stand in one place for a few minutes and believed he saw him tip over. Not being completely sure, however, RJ left the woods and returned several hours later with his kids to find the buck lying right where he last saw him.

He took a moment to say a prayer and count his blessings, with the warm feeling that his late grandpa was there to share the moment with him as well. — Dustin Prievo

Young Hunter Bags Missouri Stud

Lauren Plunkett Buck
With this 10-pointer, killed during opening weekend of the Missouri firearms season, Lauren Plunkett has now tagged nice bucks three seasons in a row. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Plunkett)
  • Hunter: Lauren Plunkett
  • Date: Nov. 12, 2022
  • Location: Fayette, Mo.
  • Method: Rifle
  • Stats: 10 points

Lauren Plunkett started the bass-fishing team at Helias High School in Jefferson City, Mo., and was the only female member of Drury University's perennial powerhouse bass-fishing team. Her regular haul of impressive lunkers earned her the nickname, "Big Fish." Twice, she won the Missouri Outdoor Communicator's Buck Rogers Memorial Scholarship. Now she works in the outdoor industry as the Hunt/Fish Community Manager for Sawyer. Her list of impressive outdoor accolades has more recently come to include "big-buck hunter." After her success last weekend, she's now shot a good buck three seasons in a row.

"Hunting is very different than fishing," Plunkett says. "Fishing is competitive. Hunting is not. At least not for me. I relax when I'm in a deer stand. And I love opening weekend of firearms season because it's the one weekend of the year where you can see so many people who love the same thing you do. We're all wearing orange."

Plunkett's buck came out into an open bean field in pursuit of a hot doe. He was following her into a wooded draw when Plunkett shot him with a .280 Ackley rifle she built. The buck is a tall 10-pointer with a broken G4 on its left antler. She's going to do a European mount of the skull herself. — Brandon Butler

Persistence Pays off in Pennsylvania

Jessica Edmonds Buck
Crossbow hunter Jessica Edmonds tagged this buck on Nov. 12 in Schuylkill County, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Edmonds)
  • Hunter: Jessica Edmonds
  • Date: Nov. 12, 2022
  • Location: Schuylkill County, Pa.
  • Method: Crossbow
  • Stats: 128 inches; 186 pounds

For two solid weeks, Jessica Edmonds had a laser focus on this buck and hunted it every day, even though almost all her trail-cam photos of it were taken at night. On the afternoon of Nov. 12, Edmonds heard a lot of ATV activity on a neighboring property and feared it was going to ruin her hunt. Then, at about 4 p.m., a doe emerged to feed in the food plot over which she was hunting. Before long, a second doe arrived on the scene.

Both does seemed anxious, however, and with the wind and ATV noises, Jessica feared her hunt was going to be a bust. The does then turned their attention to the surrounding timber, and Edmonds got her first glance at the buck she had been after. The buck started feeding in the same food plot and making his way toward Edmonds, but turned and went around her through some patches of thicker cover that didn't allow for a shot. Once he made it through the thick stuff, Edmonds grunted at him. The buck immediately approached her stand and stopped at 40 yards, offering a clean, broadside shot.

Shaking uncontrollably after letting her arrow fly, Edmonds managed to tap out a text message to her husband, who was hunting with their oldest daughter at the time and has taught Jessica about deer hunting for the past decade. Before long, they arrived and joined Jessica in tracking the buck. They found it within 100 yards of where it was shot. — Dustin Prievo

Bowhunter Rattles in Michigan Monster

Michigan 10-pointer
A day off from work for Michigan bowhunter Thomas Garries offered less-than-desired conditions, but he still tagged this big 10-pointer. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Garries)
  • Hunter: Thomas Garries
  • Date: Nov. 3, 2022
  • Location: Cassopolis, Mich.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 10 points; 147 4/8” (gross score)

Like most hardworking Midwesterners, Thomas Garries does not have nearly enough time off in the fall. He'd be in the woods every day if could, but as it is, whenever he's able to get off work, he hunts.

"I was off all day on Thursday, Nov. 3, so I knew I had to make the most of it," Garries says. "The weather wasn't going too good, with temps in the 70s and a bad wind direction for my stand, but there was no choice. I was going hunting."

He leases land west of Cassopolis, Mich., in Cass County. His spot is between an alfalfa field and a standing cornfield. Bucks have been doing some chasing, but not a ton with the warm weather. He saw a nice 8-pointer in the morning that he'd hoped would show back up in the evening.

At 6:30, with about a half hour left of light, Garries hadn't seen any deer, so he decided he should try grunting. Unfortunately, he quickly realized he'd forgotten his call in the truck. Instead, all he had was a rattling pack, so he gave it a shot.

"Five minutes later," he says, "I see a buck working his way towards a scrape and licking branch 40 yards away. I drew back and let it fly. The shot was perfect, and he went down within 50 yards."

The buck is a main-frame 10 with a kicker, and the bruiser weighed 200 pounds dressed. The green score is 147 4/8 inches. — Brandon Butler

Crazy Carolina Luck

10-point piebald buck
North Carolina hunter Michael Ball doubled up on Nov. 5, including this 10-point piebald buck. (Photo courtesy of Michael Ball)
  • Hunter: Michael Ball
  • Date: Nov. 5, 2022
  • Location: Ashe County, N.C.
  • Method: Muzzleloader
  • Stats: 2 bucks, including a 10-point piebald

Michael Ball has been hunting his Ashe County family farm for 22 years, but never in a million years could he have expected what occurred on Nov. 5.

The day brought warm, windy conditions. Ball arrived at the farm soon after daylight and spotted a buck chasing a doe in a river bottom. He moved quietly to his box blind and settled in. Later in the day, he spotted a young, small 3-point. Around 5:45 p.m., an 8-point walked into range. Ball shot that buck, waited about 30 minutes, then started the walk back to his side-by-side to load it up.

"I decided to leave my muzzleloader in the box stand because I had no intentions of shooting another deer," says Ball. "As I was walking up a logging road, I noticed something white that caught my attention. At first, I thought it was a white barrel at the bottom of this hollow he was in. I pulled out my phone, zoomed in as far as I could and couldn't believe my eyes. I dropped down and slipped back to my blind to grab my gun."

When Ball returned, the piebald deer was still in the same spot making a scrape. Ball leaned up against a tree, settled in and took the 75-yard shot. The buck ran about 30 yards and crashed.

To give the deer some time, he went and recovered the 8-point before returning to the piebald 10-point.

"I could not believe my eyes. I threw my arms up in the air and started screaming like I had won the lottery. Of course, I had to call all my friends," Ball says. "While FaceTiming one of my hunting buddies, he told me to look at the screen. My jaw dropped. Right there on the screen was a piebald he had just shot! We had both shot piebald bucks on the same night!" — Josh Honeycutt

Double-Drop-Tine Tennessee Giant

Alan Hunt Buck
The only time Tennessee hunter Alan Hunt had previously seen this buck was in a single trail-cam image from 2018. (Photo courtesy of Alan Hunt)
  • Hunter: Alan Hunt
  • Date: Nov. 12, 2022
  • Location: Hickman County, Tenn.
  • Method: Muzzleloader
  • Stats: 180+ inches

In mid-November, Alan Hunt encountered a buck in-person for the first time since previously only seeing him on a single trail-cam image … in 2018.

"I had hunted in a different spot that morning, and it was miserable cold and raining," he says. "The wind shifted, so l left. That afternoon, the rain cleared out and a cold front pushed in. The barometric pressure was up and the wind was perfect for the area I wanted to hunt. It was a northwest wind pushing my scent out of the hollow and into the open sage field."

His spot was deep in a hollow flanked by steep hardwood ridges on each side. No one had been there since January. It's a spot that holds good deer, but it's very difficult to hunt due to minimal shooting lanes.

It took Hunt about 20 minutes to walk to his hunting spot. Due to the good conditions, he fully expected to see lots of movement. He wasn't disappointed. Soon after he settled in, four does walked in. Then, two more. Then, at about 3:20 p.m., a double-drop-tine buck walked right down the same trail as the does had earlier in the afternoon.

Hunt aimed, settled the crosshairs and pulled the trigger. The 45-yard, quartering-away shot struck true. The buck ran 20 yards, tipped over and tumbled down the ridge into the ditch in front of him. Hunt says the buck scores in the 180s. A true giant anywhere, but even more so for the Volunteer State. — Josh Honeycutt

OCTOBER

Illinois Hunter Arrows Giant Public-Land Whitetail

Huge Illinois Public-Land Buck
Fernando Barrera. 20, was hunting a small parcel of public land near Kankakee, Ill., on Oct. 13 when this big buck got in range. (Courtesy photos)
  • Hunter: Fernando Barrera
  • Date: Oct. 13, 2022
  • Location: Kankakee, Ill.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 173 green score

The wind was blowing upwards of 22 mph when Illinois hunter Fernando Barrera, 20, got off work at 3 p.m. on Oct. 13, and headed to pick up his dad to hunt a public parcel near Kankakee.

But, given the windy conditions, they debated whether a hunt was even worth the bother. "My dad tried talking me out of hunting because it was windy," said Barrera, who convinced his father to go, "so we arrived later than we wanted to.”

The timing couldn’t have been better. Instead of heading deep into the woods, he hunted a more-open area near the edge of a field and high-traffic road. Instead of hiking in far from the parking lot, he hunted within about 75 yards of his truck; his logic being other hunters would be spread out further into the woods and pressuring deer.

"I usually try to go farther away from people, but since other people have been walking farther into woods, I decided to go the opposite direction and hunt close," he said. Around the same time, a farmer driving a combine was exiting a nearby cornfield, and Barrera was able to sneak in and set up as the farmer was coming out.

Around 3:45 p.m., Barrera was in his stand, and before he could nock an arrow, a couple of does came walking in, and passed through the area. At 5:10, Barrera saw a big buck crossing the road, followed by an even bigger buck. The bucks hopped the fence and entered the public parcel. Within 10 minutes, the first buck passed through, trailed by Barrera's now target buck.

Barrera ranged the buck at 27 yards, but a large truck then drove past, pushing the buck even closer, to within 15 yards. "I tried to let out a 'meh' to get him to stop, but I was shaking so bad, I couldn't get it to come out." But the buck paused on his own, presenting a perfect broadside shot. "I double-lunged him," said Barrera. "He ran maybe 50, 60 yards." — Jack Hennessy

Maine Micro-Property Success

Stephen Bennett Buck
Maine hunter Stephen Bennett killed this 201-pound, 11-point buck on 20-acre property that he and his father have had permission to hunt the past seven years. (Photo by Stephen Bennett)
  • Hunter: Stephen Bennett
  • Date: Oct. 29, 2022
  • Location: Lincoln, Maine
  • Method: Centerfire Rifle
  • Stats: 11 points, 201 pounds

Stephen Bennett killed this 201-pound, 11-point whitetail with his 7mm-08 on Oct. 29, in Lincoln, Maine. Bennett said he started hunting the small, 20-acre property where the buck was shot 7 years ago, when his father Scott obtained the landowner's permission.

Scott opted to hunt across the street from the property while Stephen made his way up the beaten tote road roughly a quarter of a mile to his stand. On his way, he set out a Tink's Scent Bomb, which became an integral part of the hunt.

After being in the stand for roughly 20 minutes, the younger Bennett heard something coming directly at him. The buck had his eyes set on a doe, and before long they began running around the opposite side of Stephen’s stand. However, the buck made a mistake when it stopped and offered Bennett a shot. The massive Maine monarch made it 50 yards before going down.—Dustin Prievo

Trad Bow Toad Falls in Kansas

Justin Gibson Kansas Buck
Traditional bowhunter Justin Gibson of Kansas arrowed this 11-pointer on Oct. 28. (Photo courtesy of Justin Gibson)
  • Hunter: Justin Gibson
  • Date: Oct. 28, 2022
  • Location: Madison, Kan.
  • Method: Recurve Bow
  • Stats: 11 points; 158 7/8-inch gross score

Four years ago, Justin Gibson decided it was time for a new challenge. He hung up his compound bow and began shooting traditional archery exclusively. In that time, he’s tagged four nice Kansas bucks, with the most recent being a main-frame 9-pointer with two additional scoreable points. He arrowed the 158 7/8-inch buck on Oct. 28 from a treestand on the edge of a standing bean field. As it turned out, Gibson had at least three years of history with the buck.

"After I shot him, I went through old pictures and I definitely have photos of him from 2019," Gibson says. "He was at least 3 1/2 years old then. I have pictures of him from last year when I tried to get my wife a shot at him. From last year to this year, he put on a lot of mass and just got bigger overall."

Gibson says the younger bucks in his area are pushing does around, but the big boys haven't started getting aggressive yet. When he shot this buck, there were six does in the field in front of him, but the buck didn’t have any interest in them at all. He thinks the chasing is going to begin in earnest this week or next.

While some may balk at the notion of relying on traditional archery equipment while pursuing big deer, Gibson has never regretted moving away from his compound bow.

"Hunting with a trad bow is all about the satisfaction of the challenge," he says. "There are no sights, and I have to get in closer. I shot a 161-inch a couple of years ago, so it's working."—Brandon Butler

Mississippi Hunter Arrows Unique Trophy

Justin Develle Mississippi Buck
This 8 1/2-year-old buck killed by Mississippi hunter Justin Develle on Oct. 22, was ear-tagged in 2018 by the Mississippi State University Deer Lab as part of a buck-movement study. (Photo courtesy of Justin Develle)
  • Hunter: Justin Develle
  • Date: Oct. 22, 2022
  • Location: Madison County, Miss.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 130 inches

Very few deer hunters have harvested a wild, free-ranging whitetail wearing an ear tag, but that's exactly what Mississippi deer hunter Justin Develle did on Oct. 22.

"In 2017, the Mississippi State University Deer Lab asked us to participate in the buck movement study, along with neighbors with property in the Big Black River corridor in Canton, Miss.," Develle says. "They tagged roughly 20 bucks in the area and put ear tags and GPS collars on them to track movement patterns for the two-year program."

Develle’s buck was tagged in the summer of 2018 as a 4 1/2-year-old deer, and Develle has been getting photos of him ever since. Each year, the buck has been a main-frame 10-point. In 2020, it started growing a drop tine. This year, Develle finally crossed paths with it.

"I hunt with my two best friends at one of their family farms," Develle says. "We do everything together. Hunting is something we live for down here. More specifically, bowhunting."

After shooting four does, it was time for Develle to punch a buck tag. On Oct. 22, with the wind out of the southeast, warm temperatures and overcast skies, Develle contemplated the right move. His friend Ashley sat with him that evening to video the hunt and possibly shoot a doe if the opportunity arose.

"The weather has been so dry that no food plots were planted," Develle says. "The deer were hungry, and I knew they would be coming to acorns."

Soon after settling in, several does stepped out, and Ashley shot one of them. It was now Develle's turn to shoot. With about 10 minutes of light left, they spotted a big deer walking across the field.

"I knew it was a big-bodied deer," he says. "I almost didn't think it was real. As he got within 20 yards, I saw the ear tag and knew it was game on."

He drew back, settled the pin and took the 13-yard, quartering-away shot. Once down on the ground, the two friends found the arrow covered in blood and the big buck 60 yards from where he was shot.

"I've killed Pope and Young bucks, but this one just meant more," Develle says. "To kill an old warrior that never daylighted, that always seemed to stay out of harm's way—that was priceless."

The buck was aged at 8 1/2 years old.—Josh Honeycutt

Maryland Muzzleloader Giant

Wayne Stevens Buck
Maryland hunter Wayne Stevens and his brothers celebrated an early season muzzleloader hunt with this 218-pound 8-pointer. (Photo courtesy of Wade Stevens)
  • Hunter: Wayne Stevens
  • Date: Oct. 21, 2022
  • Location: Frederick County, Md.
  • Method: Muzzleloader
  • Stats: 8 points, 218 pounds

Wayne Stevens of Maryland was joined by his brothers on their lease property in Frederick County, Md., during the early muzzleloading season for a hunt they will never forget. Wayne’s son had suggested he sit in his hang-on stand in a spot they call the "Lower Woods." As Wayne's brothers headed to the rear of the property, Wayne made his way into his son's stand for the evening hunt.

Wayne quickly felt the wind change and knew it wasn't right for this spot. Already committed, though, he figured he would still give it a try because his son had been seeing a lot of deer movement in that area in all different directions. 

There was little movement at the outset of the hunt, with only a couple button bucks making their way under his stand. Then things became really quiet for a while. At about 5:45 p.m., Wayne heard a twig snap below him in the thicket. He began investigating the sound through his binocular and saw what appeared to be a nice rack moving through the brush.

His initial thought was the buck was probably a shooter, but he was hesitant because they had no trail-camera photos and no observations of this deer. He said there was no one in the hunting group that had history with this deer either. The mature buck slowly made his way up the dry creek bed in the timber until stepping out into a small clearing. This was when Wayne really got a grasp of the actual size of this beautiful whitetail.

The deer began to walk away and Wayne prayed for him to change directions. Just then, the buck turned back and started walking straight toward him. At this moment, the buck raised his head to check the wind and Wayne felt he was going to be busted. The buck then lowered his head and moved to the only opening Wayne had for a shot. After he squeezed the trigger and the smoke cleared, there lied this mature whitetail buck.

At 67 years old, and having been hunting since the age of 14, Wayne says he has never had the shakes like he experienced after shooting this buck. He immediately called his son and thanked him for the suggestion and opportunity to sit in his stand.

Wayne says the property they hunt is not known for big deer, but he surely feels blessed to have had such an encounter with a deer like this one. Wayne and his brothers joined together over the deer, shared some hugs and backslaps, took a few photos and proceeded to drag the deer up to the trucks.

The scales tipped at 218 pounds and hats were tipped to Wayne when this buck was dropped off at the butcher shop. Wayne says he’s blessed to have been able to harvest such a beautiful animal but more blessed to share his time in the woods with his family and friends. "I am a very lucky person, and this is what hunting is all about," he said. — Dustin Prievo

Minnesota Stud Falls to Prepared Bowhunter

Hayden Ashworth Minnesota Buck
Hayden Ashworth of Oronoco, Minn., downed this 9-pointer at 35 yards on Oct. 16. (Photo courtesy of Hayden Ashworth)
  • Hunter: Hayden Ashworth
  • Date: Oct. 16, 2022
  • Location: Oronoco, Minn.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 9 points; 158-inch gross score

Hayden Ashworth was in his treestand just 15 yards in the woods when this big 9-pointer gave him a shot. He had cut three shooting lanes to ensure any buck entering the woods from the picked cornfield in front of him would pass through an opening. When this brute entered one of those lanes at 35 yards, Hayden drilled him. His preparation had paid off.

After settling in for an evening sit at 3:30 p.m., Hayden saw numerous deer moving, but no good bucks. About a half-hour before sunset, he decided to rattle. Two bucks—a small 8-pointer and the big 9—answered by bursting from a small patch of woods on the backside of a pond. When they ran into the picked cornfield, they spooked some does. The big 9-pointer began pursuing one of them.

Hayden started grunting. The little 8 came right to him, but the big 9 was more interested in the doe. Once she made her intentions—or lack thereof—clear, the buck gave up and slowly made his way toward Hayden.

"If I kept grunting, he kept coming," Hayden says. "If I stopped grunting, he would turn and go back toward the doe. I must have grunted at him 15 times before he finally committed."

Hayden credits the first good cold snap for the action he experienced. He says the local scene went dead when temperatures peaked near 80 degrees last week. Thankfully, he was able to harvest his deer before the warm spell. He did say, however, that scrapes and rubs are abundant in his area, and young bucks are visibly sparring frequently. Bucks are definitely gearing up to bust loose. — Brandon Butler

Arkansas Surprise Success

Tres Jackson Arkansas Buck
Arkansas hunter Tres Jackson took this big whitetail on a muzzleloader hunt in Pope County, Ark. (Photo courtesy of Tres Jackson)
  • Hunter: Tres Jackson
  • Date: Oct. 10, 2022
  • Location: Pope County, Ark.
  • Method: Muzzleloader
  • Stats: 145 ¾ inches

Tres Jackson tagged a great Arkansas buck earlier this month that he didn't even know existed until he laid eyes on it from his blind.

"I got permission to hunt on these 80 acres of land the past year," Jackson says. "With a dozen sits last year and not seeing any deer, I got discouraged and somewhat abandoned it. This year, I decided to hang a camera and put some feed out to take inventory of the deer in the area. To my surprise, I had a picture of a relatively good 10-point but had no idea this buck was in the area."

On Oct. 10, the weather presented cool, wet, windy conditions. Jackson decided to try his luck sitting on a hillside hidden by thick, brushy cover. Several does and fawns grazed through the area, as did a young 4-pointer.

Then, another one stepped out.

"I remember looking up and seeing a dark shadow moving," Jackson says. "I put my scope on it to see if it was a doe or buck, and all I saw was antlers."

The buck took another five steps, dropped down into a creek bed and disappeared completely. He reappeared a few moments later and continued toward Jackson. Once the deer breached 30 yards, Jackson settled his crosshair and squeezed off the shot. The buck ran out of sight.

Jackson decided to give the deer some time, but as he walked back to his truck, he noticed a white object just off the trail. It was his buck.

"Hard work pays off—never give up," Jackson says. "I love the feeling of being in the woods without all the daily stresses of life. Every deer hunt is different, too. I think the most important aspect of it is I get to be alone. Just me, my thoughts, and the big man upstairs. Getting to see or harvest a deer is a plus." — Josh Honeycutt

A Pennsylvania Old-Timer Goes Down

Alexis Moore First Archery Buck
Alexis Moore of Brockway, Pa., killed this nice 8-pointer last week. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Moore)
  • Hunter: Alexis Moore
  • Date: Oct. 13, 2022
  • Location: Ridgeway, Pa.
  • Method: Crossbow
  • Stats: 8 points; 7.5 years old

Alexis Moore of Brockway, Pa., harvested this mature 8-point late last week. This was her first archery buck, and she was hunting alongside her hunting mentor, Paul Baker. The deer was shot on a property in Elk County that is managed by Baker, who is a Whitetail Properties Real Estate Agent/Land Specialist. Baker said he has a lot of history with this buck, as it was a dominant and aggressive buck in the area for years.

Moore and Baker chose to hunt the buck in the evening and said it was a very active evening in which they saw more than 20 does, 6 bucks and a flock of turkeys.

The hunt culminated with a 30-yard on this ancient buck, estimated to be at least 7.5 years old, in the last few minutes of legal shooting light. — Dustin Prievo

Bowhunter Bags a Missouri Monster

Tyler Rodes Missouri Buck
Tyler Rodes' Missouri buck, killed on Oct. 14, scored 171 6/8 and is his largest bow buck to date. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Rodes)
  • Hunter: Tyler Rodes
  • Date: Oct. 14, 2022
  • Location: Caldwell County, Mo.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 171 6/8 inches (rough score)

Tyler Rodes, a forester with the National Wild Turkey Federation, killed his largest bow buck to date on Friday, Oct. 14 in Caldwell County, Mo. The brute roughscored 171 6/8 inches. He fell to a well-placed arrow from a compound bow.

Rodes was hunting on private property he was given permission to hunt just last year. This buck was one of the first to show up on camera in the summer of 2021. He went hard-horned on Aug. 26 last year, which Rodes thought was interestingly early. Then he pretty much disappeared until the 2021 firearms season, when Rodes gave him a pass. He was pleased to know the pass paid off when he found his sheds last winter.

This year was different. The buck had a home range of about 40 acres, which he stuck to pretty tightly, and Rodes had him on camera regularly. Last Thursday evening and Friday morning, the buck showed himself during daylight, so Rodes slipped in Friday evening, hung a stand and climbed in.

"As soon as I settled in, I notice a big, fresh scrape on the edge of the field in front of me," Rodes said. "As luck would have it, he came out and walked straight across the field to that scrape. He worked it for 10 minutes, then turned to walk toward [me]. When he was broadside, I made a good shot." — Brandon Butler

Oklahoma Trophy After Green Light to Hunt

Paul Sears Oklahoma Buck
Paul Sears tagged this monster Oklahoma buck earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Paul Sears)
  • Hunter: Paul Sears
  • Date: Oct. 1, 2022
  • Location: Kay, Okla.
  • Method: Compound Bow
  • Stats: 174 5/8 inches (gross green score)

Paul Sears first gained permission to access an Oklahoma property for coyote and varmint hunting. After three years and 20-plus coyotes in the bag, he finally received the green light to hunt whitetails, and this season he tagged a monster 5 1/2-year-old, 174 5/8-inch buck there. He first learned of the deer in 2021 and continued keeping tabs on it this year.

After running off trespassers who were fishing ponds they weren't supposed to, he settled into his hunting spot located next to the ponds, which were in a cattle field full of native grasses. The open area bordered a large block of timber, and he expected the deer to enter the field and pass through within range.

The hunt started with several bucks walking through, ranging from in age from 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 years old. Then, Sears spotted the big deer on the edge of the timber. After carefully assessing the situation, the buck jumped the fence and walked toward Sears.

Eventually, the buck walked to within 15 yards. Sears drew back, settled the pin and took the broadside shot. Hitting the buck in the spine, it dropped in its tracks; Sears followed up with a second shot to the vitals.

"I am still on cloud nine with this buck," Sears said. "I'm truly blessed as an outdoorsman and hunter to be able to harvest a deer of this caliber. The hunt, even though it involved several obstacles, with other people on the property and coyotes interfering, was as textbook as it could have been.

"It is more than just something to do," he continued. "This is a way of life. Hunting in general is something that I think about every day. And knowing that I can pass this way of life on to my kids and family means the world to me." — Josh Honeycutt

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