Until recently, bucks that scored in the 180s were rare in Pennsylvania. But last year, bucks in the 190s -- and at least one topping 200 -- were taken. It's trophy time in PA!
Scot Brun's Westmoreland County non-typical 22-point monster scored 201 2/8 B&C points.
Photo courtesy of Scot Brun.
Back in 2001, the introduction of antler restrictions was met with pessimism among Keystone State hunters. Many of the state's "expert" hunters voiced skepticism and some fairly strong criticisms.
Yet during the past few years, Pennsylvania has produced an eye-popping crop of giant bucks, including some of the best in the Northeast.
During the 2007 rifle season, Pennsylvania hunters took 109,200 bucks -- the lowest total buck harvest in 22 years. The overall deer harvest was down by 11 percent.
One stated purpose of the new management program was to limit the harvest of juvenile bucks, allowing those deer more time to grow their antlers. Are the PGC's new practices producing the desired results?
Though we may not be able to answer that question to everyone's satisfaction, we do know that in 2007, Pennsylvania hunters registered another batch of fantastic trophy bucks, including two eye-popping bucks taken during rifle season!
You may quarrel about the overall success of deer management in the state. But you can't argue about the quality of these two bucks!
SCOT BRUN'S 200-CLASS MONSTER
Scot Brun has been hunting since the age of 12. The 30-year-old didn't "get serious" about hunting trophy whitetails until about seven years ago -- but he's been obsessed with them ever since.
Since he started to focus on taking big-racked trophies, Brun has tagged several that scored in the 130s.
Prior to the 2007 season, his best buck was a 148-inch 12-pointer that dressed out at 215 pounds.
Scot Brun counted the does as they passed. As he let the ninth deer pass, his eyes turned to No. 10. This wasn't just any deer -- it was the huge buck he had been waiting for!
In 2005, Brun encountered a great buck and became obsessed with taking him. For three years he hunted that deer, passing on many smaller bucks in the interim.
The area in Westmoreland County that Brun hunts is densely populated, making rifle hunting nearly impossible. So he hunts during bow season and uses his crossbow during the rifle season. For three years the great buck continued to avoid him, but that changed during the second week of the 2007 rifle season. (Continued)
On Monday, Dec. 3, Brun was hunting with his crossbow, hoping that this would be the day the big boy finally showed up. As the morning rolled along, Brun saw a large group of does. He let them pass, hoping that a buck -- or better yet, the buck -- would follow.
Brun counted the does as they passed. As he let the ninth deer pass, his eyes turned to No. 10. This wasn't just any deer -- it was the huge buck he had been waiting for!
Brun gained his composure and prepared for the shot. He raised his crossbow and, as the buck was quartering away from him at 18 yards, let his arrow fly.
The shot was true, but the buck took off, running. Three years of dreaming, scouting and hunting had led to this moment, but it was definitely worth the wait!
Brun held off as long as he could and then took up the trail. When he came upon the great buck, he started counting points and got to 22.
Definitely no "ground shrinkage" on this monster!
His buck was the talk of the town. Local newspapers ran stories, and the buck even showed up on the Internet.
Brun had the buck scored by both the Safari Club and the Northeast Big Buck Club. The huge rack scores 201 2/8 gross Boone and Crockett points and nets 183 3/8.
It has 22 scorable points -- 11 typical and 11 non-typical. The inside spread is just under 18 inches, with beams of 25 2/8 and 28 2/8 inches. The buck has incredible mass, with bases of 7 and 6 2/8 inches.
Brad White rifled this Beaver County buck that scores 181 2/8 non-typical and 174 0/8 net -- a good example of what can happen when bucks have time to grow. Photo courtesy of Brad White.
THE BRAD WHITE BUCK
Before the 2007 season started, Brad White spoke with his uncle, Frank, about a giant buck they had seen.
"I wish that someone in our hunting party would kill this buck," White recalls saying. "Every year we see a big buck, but we never kill one."
Well, things would be different this year!
White has been hunting since he was 12 years old. He loves the outdoors and particularly loves hunting whitetails with his friends and family.
On the last Saturday of rifle season in 2006, White's father saw a nice 10-pointer running the fence line on Uncle Frank's farm. He could not get a shot at it. That was the last they saw of the big buck until midsummer 2007, when White's father-in-law saw a monster buck in a back field.
White coaches football at the local high school, and going into the 2007 season, he didn't have a lot of time to scout. But two weeks before opening day, Uncle Frank did some scouting and reported seeing a giant buck that walked down the middle of the hollow as if he owned the woods.
Frank's story had his nephew primed and ready for the hunt.
Opening day was miserable -- rain and wind all day. But White sat all day in the messy weather and left his stand for only about 20 minutes to change clothes and grab a hot meal.
Most of the hunters he knew were out of the woods by late morning on that first day, which says something about just how bad the weather was. White sat all day and saw seven deer, five does and two small bucks.
Tuesday was predicted to be a better day, so White eagerly got up early and was in the stand before daylight.
The morning was a little slow, so around 11:30 a.m., Uncle Frank went to lunch and pushed a few does onto the hill in front of his nephew.
After that, White went to the house for his own lunch and was back within 30 minutes.
White climbed into the tree and got settled in at about 12:30 p.m. He sat until about 1:45 p.m., and then he stood up to pour a cup of hot tea from his Thermos. As he started to take a drink, he spotted a deer standing in the briar patch.
When he saw its rack, he knew right away that it was a "shooter," with at least four points on one side. He put the crosshairs on the deer's shoulder and pulled the trigger.
The deer dropped in its tracks!
White knew only that he had shot a "nice buck," but had no idea how big it was. He climbed out of the tree and went over the hill to look at the deer.
The buck was huge, carrying 16 points! White called his uncle and his father. His father-in-law had been listening also and came for a look as well, along with a few cousins.
The news traveled fast. That evening, more than 100 people, including some whom White had never met before, came to see this giant western Pennsylvania buck.
White didn't stop smiling for days.
He later had the buck scored and entered it in the Northeast Big Buck Club. The final gross B&C score is 181 2/8 non-typical, 174 0/8 net.
During the 2007 rifle season in Pennsylvania, many other great bucks were taken, including a 190-class buck in Northumberland County.
Some phenomenal bucks also fell during the archery and flintlock seasons and will be featured in upcoming articles in this magazine.
Given the size and quality of bucks that the NBBC has scored from the 2007 season, it seems reasonable to suggest that the current antler restrictions are at least producing bigger trophy bucks, despite a reduction in the total buck harvest.
If smaller bucks are given time to grow, it stands to reason that more bigger bucks will be taken each year.
To have your big buck scored, or to learn more about the Northeast Big Buck Club, visit the club's Web site at www.bigbuckclub.com, or call (508) 752-8762.
Or e-mail Jeff Brown, the club president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.