A trophy whitetail can show up anywhere in Indiana, but some areas clearly outproduce others. Let's look at recent history to see which Hoosier counties are the most likely to yield one for the record books.
Indiana's big buck hunting continues to improve, with another exceptional year in the large antler producing department. At the time of this writing, 315 total (256 typicals that scored at least 140 inches; 59 non-typicals that scored at least 160 inches) bucks had been measured and entered into the Hoosier Record Buck Program.
And that's not the final count. Many more entries were awaiting processing in records chairman John Bogucki's home. Score forms will continue to accumulate in coming months, so this number will continue to grow.
Leading all counties with 13 total racks qualifying for the program was Parke County. Second was Kosciusko County, with 12.
Along with high numbers of HRBP qualifying bucks, Bogucki has seen an increasing number of all-time Boone and Crockett entries taken. To make the all-time B&C book, a typical has to score at least 170 inches and a non-typical has to score at least 195 inches. The 2009-10 Indiana deer season saw a record 26 such racks turned into the program.
For readers who didn't catch Part I of our annual series, you'll notice that the state has been broken up into 15 separate Wildlife Management Districts. Gone are the seven Deer Zones that were utilized in the past.
District 1 is a seven-county area in extreme northwestern Indiana. This area has an interesting mixture of habitat types that stretch from the sandy shores of Lake Michigan to rich farms in its southern portion. It produced 25 qualifying racks for the 2009 season, and in that mix were some of the top bucks taken statewide.
Porter, Lake, and Warren counties tied for first place in the district with five qualifying bucks apiece.
The highest scoring buck for the district was a 200 2/8-inch non-typical taken by shotgunner Michael R. Hodge in Porter County. This buck was the No. 9 firearms non-typical for the season.
Archer John R. Brigham also killed a 172 3/8-inch typical in Porter County. Trailing right behind this great buck is Aaron Ault's 171 7/8-inch giant from nearby White County. These two beauties ranked No. 3 and 4 for the year in the archery typical category.
Another great muzzleloader non-typical was taken by Randy R. Allen in Warren County. This monster scored in at 190 5/8 inches and ranked No. 11 for the year in its category.
District 2 lies in extreme north central Indiana and is comprised of seven counties that produced 36 total HRBP entries last season. This area has a mixture of natural lakes and wetlands, intermixed with abundant farmland and woodlot habitats. Leading the district was Kosciusko with 12 entries, followed by Pulaski with six, and St. Joseph with five.
The top scoring buck for the district was a 190 3/8-inch non-typical taken by archer Robert H. Eccles. This Kosciusko County brute was good enough for No. 4 for the year in its category.
Rich Gamber arrowed his 175 7/8-inch colossus in that same county, which ranks No. 2 for the year in the archery typical category. Muzzleloader hunter Josh N. Shank killed his 174 0/8-inch B&C bruiser in nearby St. Joseph County. It was good for No. 5 on the year statewide.
Another outstanding buck killed in St. Joseph County was James D. Kristofski's 185 3/8-inch shotgun non-typical.
In the extreme northeastern corner of the state is five-county District 3. This district is in the famous Natural Lakes Region, with its super diverse habitat types. It produced 22 total entries to the program last season. Leading the district was Noble County with nine entries, followed by DeKalb (five) and Whitley (four).
This area has produced many outstanding bucks in the past, but was surprisingly absent from the top end of the lists last season. The top scoring buck for the district was Rick D. Woods' 161 6/8-inch typical taken with shotgun in Noble County.
District 4 lies just south of District 2 in north central Indiana. This six-county area has plenty of river bottom ground mixed with abundant farm fields and woodlot habitats in the southern portion. It produced 22 entries last fall and was led by Fulton County, with seven entries. Carroll County produced four entries, while Howard, Wabash and Cass counties produced three apiece. Miami produced two entries to round out the district.
The top scoring buck for the district last year was youngster Canaan W. Haywood's 200 4/8-inch non-typical buck taken in Wabash County. This buck ranked No. 7 for the year. The top typical for the district was Kenny Sallee's 177 4/8-inch monster arrowed in Cass County. This buck was the No. 1 overall archery typical for Indiana last year.
Another noteworthy typical was Kyle S. Horton's 163 1/8-inch shotgun bruiser taken in Howard County.
District 5 is a seven-county area just below District 3 in northeastern Indiana. The area is noted for its river bottom habitats and ridged areas adjacent to the Wabash Valley.
It produced 12 total entries to the HRBP last year and was led by Allen County's four qualifying racks. Wells County chipped in four entries, while Huntington and Jay contributed two apiece.
The top-scoring buck for the district last year was a 204 1/8-inch archery-killed bruiser taken by Jeffrey S. Gordon in Wells County. This buck ranked No. 3 for the season in its category.
The top typical taken in the district was arrowed by Thomas E. Burns in Allen County. This outstanding buck scored in at 163 4/8 inches. Another fine archery typical was killed by Larry Herrman, also in Allen County. Herrman's buck scored in at 160 5/8 inches.
District 6 is a six-county area in west central Indiana that has traditionally produced some of the top heads in the state. It offers quality river bottom soils throughout and a mixture of excellent timbered habitats.
The district cranked out 37 entries for the year, led by Parke County with 13 total racks. Montgomery kicked in eight bucks, while Vermillion, Putnam, Fountain and Tippecanoe counties contributed four apiece.
Ronald W. Martin killed the top scoring non-typical in the state for the year. This shotgun brui
ser scored 222 0/8 inches and was taken in Parke County. Following Martin's monster closely was Bob Maxson's massive 219 1/8-inch non-typical, which was taken with shotgun in nearby Vermillion County. This was good enough for No. 2 in that same category for the season.
Next up at No. 3 in that category was Scott A. Renner's 217 3/8-inch non-typical shotgun behemoth, which was taken in Tippecanoe County. Another dandy non-typical was arrowed by Illinois archer Sean Lagacy in Vermillion County. This massive buck scored 205 5/8 inches and was good enough for No. 2 in the archery non-typical category for the year.
Coming in at No. 8 for the year in the firearms non-typical category was Chad D. Koosman's 200 2/8-inch muzzleloader buck taken in Putnam County. On the typical side of things was Steven R. Rider's 170 3/8-inch giant arrowed in Tippecanoe County. This buck ranked No. 7 for the year in its category.
District 7 lies in central Indiana within the Midwestern Corn Belt. The dominant feature is the metropolitan Indianapolis, with its urban habitat. Nevertheless, some areas offer a very good mixture of timber and farmland. This nine-county area produced 19 entries for the program last season and was led by Marion County with four. Hendricks, Hamilton, and Hancock chipped in three apiece.
The top scoring buck for the district was Scott Tidd's 192 6/8-inch non-typical shotgun giant killed in Clinton County. Archer Ryan Kimble killed his 182 1/8-inch non-typical bruiser in Marion County.
The top typical in the district, also from Marion County, was a 168 5/8-inch brute arrowed by Casey J. Poer.
The seven counties in east central Indiana that make up District 8 are best characterized as open agricultural counties. There are pockets of excellent habitat mixed into the landscape as well. The area produced 15 qualifying heads last year and was led by Rush, Henry, Delaware and Wayne counties, which all chipped in three apiece.
The top-scoring buck from the district and a new Indiana archery non-typical record buck was Jeffrey J. Harty's 216 3/8-inch bruiser, which was taken in Delaware County. The top typical killed in this district was Michael L. Gough's 177 7/8-inch monster shotgun kill from Fayette County. It ranked No. 2 for the year in its category.
The five counties that make up west central Indiana's District 9 produced 17 qualifying racks last season. The area offers a fine mix of habitat types from heavily timbered ridges to reclimated stripper hills. Vigo County topped all others here with six entries, followed by Sullivan (four), Clay (three), and Owen (three).
The top-scoring buck taken in the district last season was Tommy R. Muse's muzzleloader dandy that scored 206 6/8 inches. This Clay County buck ranked No. 4 for the year in that category.
The top typical for the area was Travis L. Nicosin's 171 3/8-inch archery bruiser. This buck ranked No. 6 for the season in the archery typical category.
District 10, a five-county area in south central Indiana, is probably best known for its huge stands of timber and hills. Jackson County led all counties here with five entries, followed by Morgan (four), and Monroe (three). Overall, the area kicked in 15 entries for the program last year.
The top buck killed in the district was Gary C. Padgett, Jr.'s 167 3/8-inch typical, which was taken with a handgun. The top non-typical killed here was arrowed by Trevor L. Wiggam. This Jackson County brute scored in at 167 2/8 inches.
In the extreme southeastern corner of Indiana is six-county District 11. Traditionally this hilly, heavily timbered region has cranked out some of Indiana's finest bucks. This area produced 26 entries last year and was led by Ripley with eight entries. Decatur County produced six, while Franklin yielded five.
The top buck for the district was David T. Drew's 162 6/8-inch typical. This archery buck was taken in Ripley County. The top non-typical for the district was taken with a pistol cartridge rifle by Steve Wicker. This 172 7/8-inch buck was killed in Franklin County.
In the southwestern corner of Indiana lies five-county District 12. This is another southern Indiana gem in terms of overall whitetail habitat. It traditionally has been a top producer of big Indiana bucks. This area produced 14 entries for the year, with an impressive eight of those coming from Daviess County. Knox County chipped in three entries, while Dubois produced two.
The top-scoring buck for the district was a 186 6/8-inch non-typical taken by muzzleloader hunter Randy A. Sermersheim in Dubois County. Daviess County produced a 172 2/8-inch non-typical for muzzleloader hunter Delbert L. Raber.
The top typical taken in the district was arrowed by Aaron M. Birk in Dubois County. This 171 6/8-inch brute was the No. 5 buck in the state for its category last year.
In extreme south central Indiana is the five-county District 13. This area has abundant timbered habitat and river bottom landscapes. The district produced 20 entries last season and was led by Crawford and Washington counties with five entries apiece.
The top-scoring buck from the district was a 190 1/8-inch non-typical that was killed by archer Jason A. Coffman. This Washington County buck ranked No. 5 for the year among non-typical bowkills.
The top typical from the district was taken by shotgunner Marvin Baker II. This Crawford County monster scored 182 1/8 inches and was the top typical taken in the state last year.
In extreme southeastern Indiana is the six-county District 14. Traditionally this heavily timbered area has produced some of the state's best overall bucks. Last fall the area produced 22 racks for the program, led by Jennings County's seven entries. Jefferson produced five entries, followed by Clark (four), and Scott (three).
The top-scoring buck in the district was taken with a shotgun by Timothy E. Dulaney in Scott County. This 201 0/8-inch beauty ranked No. 6 for the year in the firearms non-typical category. Another dandy non-typical was killed by shotgun hunter Christopher D. Castor. This Jennings County buck scored 185 5/8 inches.
The top typical for the district was taken by muzzleloader hunter David C. Drew. This Jefferson County monster scored 177 6/8 inches and ranked No. 3 for the state in that category for the year.
In the far southwestern corner of the state is six-county District 15. The area is also famous for its river bottom soils and abundant timbered habitats. This area cranked out 13 qualifying racks for the 2009 season, led by Posey County's five entries. Gibson and Perry counties contributed three heads apiece, while Spencer cranked out two.
The top-scoring buck for the district was a 206 3/8-inch non-typical monster killed by Eric E. Hinderliter. This Posey County brute was taken with a pistol cartridge rifle and ranked No. 5 for the year in its category.
Two other great non-typicals were taken with shotguns in Posey County. One killed by Steve Koester scored 183 5/8 inches. Interestingly, the other scored a nearly identical 183 2/8 inches as a non-typical and was taken by Taylor Schmidt.