The 2021-22 deer season is a wrap, and some big whitetails fell between the opening and closing bells. Check out these 10 monster bucks that were taken throughout the country.
Lance Hill’s South Carolina StudScore: 155 inchesDate of Kill: Aug. 22, 2021Location: Calhoun County, S.C.Weapon: 7mm-08 Weatherby
Lance Hill brought down this 4 ½-year-old whitetail much earlier than most hunters have a chance to go hunting. Countrywide, it isn’t often you get to hunt in August, let alone with a rifle. But that’s life in Hill’s part of South Carolina, and last season, a big deer was waiting for him.
“I never saw him on the three cameras we had out, but I’d seen him when I couldn’t shoot—early mornings going to work, or at night past shooting hours,” Hill said.
That was set to change on Aug. 22, though. Before the hunt, Lance and his dad were talking and couldn’t decide on which stand to sit. “What do you think Jimmy would do?” Lance asked. His father remembered some advice from Grandpa Hill (Jimmy) about hunting near water on rainy days. And there’s only one of their treestands that’s beside water. So, Lance went with that.
It rained all day but stopped just before the afternoon hunt. The wind was just right for the spot he wanted to hunt. He was hunting near a pond and a small field. Three does milled around as the sun dipped toward the horizon. They ran off when a small 4- and 8-pointer walked into the field. Then, the big one stepped out. He charged in out of nowhere. After several tense seconds, the deer offered a quartering-away shot opportunity, and Hill took it. The deer ran 40 yards and expired.
“This buck means a lot to me because of my grandaddy, Jimmy Hill,” Lance said. “He passed away the week before, and this was the first time I went hunting after his passing.”
Jake Murdaugh’s Oklahoma MonsterScore: 194 inchesDate of Kill: Nov. 28, 2021Location: Pittsburg County, Okla.Weapon: .308 Winchester
Jake Murdaugh is a rancher who spends much of his time living the agricultural lifestyle. His late grandfather started JJ Ranch in 1961, but passed in 2009, and it’s been worked by the family ever since.
“I’ve been hunting all my life,” Murdaugh said. “My dad started taking me when I was three years old. I’m thankful for the knowledge he instilled in me in how to hunt big deer.”
This season, Murdaugh had the opportunity to cash in some of that knowledge on a huge whitetail. The hunt unfolded on Nov. 28. It was a very sunny day with temps in the mid-50s. A slight southwest wind swept across the landscape.
He was hunting hill country in a 65-acre hay meadow, which was part of the larger 160-acre cattle operation. His spot put him facing eastward out into the field. To his right and rear were stands of thick timber that opened in several spots, and to the left was more meadow with intermittent timber.
Shortly after the hunt kicked off, a doe popped out of the timber several hundred yards away. It was followed by 10 more does, and behind them was a huge whitetail buck that Murdaugh had never seen. It followed the large doe group and chased one of them into a nearby cattle working pen. Knowing the buck was too far away for a shot, Murdaugh carefully stalked down the fence line toward where he’d last seen the deer. He used briars and small cedar trees as cover as he went. He stopped in a small group of persimmon trees to catch his breath.
He closed the remaining distance needed to get within range, dropped into a kneeling position and took the shot. The 200-yard shot hit its mark. After a while, he looked for the deer and recovered his buck.
Whitney Reed’s Oklahoma HammerScore: 166⅞ inchesDate of Kill: Nov. 23, 2021Location: Garvin County, Okla.Weapon: CVA Cascade in .308 Winchester
Whitney Reed and her husband, Cody, spend a lot of time hunting big Oklahoma bucks. As part of the BuckVentures field staff, they understand whitetails, and it came as no surprise when this 5½-year-old deer fell to a Reed.
“We got permission on a new property in early July of 2021, and that’s the first time we got him on camera,” she said. “We called the buck ‘Spider Man’ because we had hundreds of velvet pictures of him with a spider web in front of the camera.”
They monitored the buck for several weeks, and hunted some, but had no luck. On Nov. 23, they decided to move in. It was very warm for November, extending upward of 70 degrees with a southeasterly wind. Still, they thought they had a good chance of seeing Spider Man up and on the hoof.
About an hour into the afternoon hunt, a doe appeared about 100 yards away and walked down through the finger of trees. The big buck was right behind her.
“She came in and started eating, but he caught our wind,” Reed said. “He stood behind a big pecan tree for about five minutes. He went ahead and came in to stay with his doe, and I got the shot off quickly.”
Hunting with her CVA Cascade chambered in .308 Win., the buck was well within range. When it walked into the open, she touched off the 75-yard shot. It ran about 50 yards and expired in the middle of the open field.While the buck scored 166⅞ inches, it was the character that impressed her and others so much. Rarely do you see a buck with a drop tine, let alone two of them.
“This deer means so much,” Reed said. “I absolutely worked my tail off to get an opportunity at this buck. I’ve been putting food plots in, hunting hard and so much more for years, and it finally came together. It is my biggest to date. People couldn’t believe he had drop tines coming off his main beams.”
Jeremy Martinson’s New Hampshire GiantScore: 166²⁄₈ inchesDate of Kill: Nov. 1, 2021Location: Merrimack County, N.H.Weapon: .50-caliber CVA muzzleloader
Jeremy Martinson had been hunting in the area throughout the season, but on Nov. 1, 2021, he received an opportunity at a huge whitetail. The hunt kicked off with slightly warmer weather, but the rut was just starting, and he hoped for a positive outcome. He had high hopes for the afternoon hunt.
He was hunting in a large clearcut paralleled by a steep ridge line. Later in the afternoon, he heard a thunderous crash in the clearcut. It was so thick that he couldn’t see what made the sound, though. Right at last light, after several minutes of silence, a big buck eased out into a clearing 40 yards away.
“He went to the mock scrape I set up earlier in the fall and started pawing the ground,” Martinson said. “I had a shooting lane through the pine trees. I killed him in the mock scrape I created.”
The deer ran 30 yards and tipped over. “Bucks like this in New Hampshire on public land are far and few,” Martinson said. “He weighed 235 pounds (field dressed), and New England is known for hunters who classify a trophy not by the antler size, but the dressed weight. Bucks over 200 pounds in the state receive a patch to display on [their] hunting jacket. I shot a giant, not only with the body size, but the headgear to boot. I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity not only to see a wild New Hampshire buck this big, but harvest him.”
Justin Kamps’ Illinois GiantScore: 170⁶⁄₈ inchesDate of Kill: Nov. 4, 2021Location: Northwest IllinoisWeapon: Hoyt RX-1 compound bow
Justin Kamps first learned of this deer in 2019, but it wasn’t on their radar. Then, in 2020, it made a huge jump, and turned into one of the largest 8-pointers he’d ever seen. By 2021, there was no doubt this was the largest 4×4 he’d ever hunted. Justin, his brothers, and his father targeted this deer in hopes of arrowing it.
On Nov. 4, 2021, that became reality. It was overcast with temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Kamps was hunting along some thick bedding cover with steep bluffs around him.
“Throughout the day, we saw a few bucks that I rattled in, one being a nice 4-year-old,” Kamps said. “A little after 5 p.m., we heard running from the creek bed behind us. A little buck was chasing a doe.”
A few minutes later, his friend, David, who was also in the tree, said he heard something in the bottom. “I heard a deer walking up the hill in the leaves grunting as he walked,” Kamps said.
The buck was at 50 yards and closing. It walked down a trail, turned broadside and offered a 20-yard, slightly-quartering-to shot opportunity. Kamps settled the pin and took it. The arrow hit its mark, and the huge deer ran down into a ravine. A couple hours later, Kamps returned with a tracking party. They followed blood about 150 yards to the downed buck.
“Buster was a magnificent animal and exceeded our expectations,” Kamps said. “Last year, we thought he was a really great deer, but this year, he’s a world-class 8-pointer. This deer is special because 8-pointers typically don’t get to this level. Everything about him—his frame, tines and beam—is exceptional.”
Lee Dixon’s Tennessee TankScore: UnknownDate of Kill: 2021Location: TennesseeWeapon: .25-06 Remington
Lee Dixon and his father have been hunting together for 28 years. Several years ago, Lee was able to purchase the property right next to his father, and they both began hunting there. The first year was challenging, as they had to learn how deer used the property. It took a while, but they started to figure things out. One young buck the family called “Lefty” frequented the area. They hoped it’d survive another season or two.
“I had no idea the journey our family was about to embark on with this deer,” Lee said. “The following year, he put on significant main beam length. Lefty wasn’t like many other bucks on the property. His summer and winter ranges didn’t change much. His travel patterns were extremely tight. Literally a 600-yard radius. This was a resident buck.”
Thinking the deer would remain on the property, they decided to not hunt the farm that year. Instead, they hunted elsewhere in hopes of allowing the deer to live another year. “It worked,” Lee said. “Lefty showed up on camera after a long Tennessee rifle season.”
Then, 2020 arrived, and Lefty was back on the farm. They didn’t have any encounters with the deer until after the rut. The big buck walked in front of Lee’s father while he was hunting, but unfortunately, the deer broke off its entire right side. He passed the deer in hopes of it returning the following season.
The 2021 pre-season kicked off, and the 7½-year-old Lefty was nowhere to be found. “We weren’t cutting tracks from Lefty like we had in the past,” Lee said. “This deer had a track that was undeniable. We purchased more cellular trail cameras. To our surprise, nothing. Lefty was gone.”
“Then, our family received news that rocked me to my core,” Lee said. “My dad gave me news that he had terminal liver and pancreatic cancer. Doctors said he only had weeks to live. My dad’s spirits never once faltered.”
They talked a lot, and hunting was a common topic. So was Lefty. They dreamed of another season hunting this big deer. In July, Lee found a track that looked like Lefty’s. He posted trail cameras, and confirmed it was him.
“I ran to the house and headed straight to Dad’s,” he said. “It brings me to tears thinking of dad’s face when I told him the news. It was heaven-sent to our family. Dad came alive. We started game planning, dreaming of getting close to this magnificent animal.”
They continued planning, but his father’s health continued declining. One day, while Lee was with him at his house, his father confirmed his fears. “Lee, I’m not going to be able to hunt with you this year,” his father said.
“Everything sank in, and it spurred a conversation a long time coming,” Lee said. “Men are terrible with sharing their emotions. This time everything came pouring out.”
His father passed away in October. A week later, deer season opened. He picked up his father’s favorite rifle—a Sako 85 Finnlight chambered in .25-06 Remington. He hunted hard, but the deer evaded him. Then, later in the season, he finally crossed paths with the deer one last time.
“I moved 150 yards downwind of his bedding area and started rattling,” Lee said. “I followed it up with a few grunts and grabbed my rifle. Where Lefty was bedding this day was almost impenetrable, so I opted to take a turkey seat and hunt off the ground.”
About 45 minutes later, he heard a leaf crunch to his right. Much to his surprise, he turned, and there stood Lefty about 70 yards away. Being a right-handed shooter, this was an impossible shot. He waited until the deer got behind a tree and started to move, but Lefty heard him, and stopped cold in his tracks. Several minutes later, the deer started moving again. Lee settled the crosshairs and pulled the trigger. Lefty fell right there.
“I leaned Dad’s .25-06 against the tree and tried to collect myself,” he said. “I took a picture and texted it to my dad. He would have been the first person I told. And he was this time.”
“My emotions were not what I had thought they would be in this moment,” Lee continued. “I was excited and sad. The farm seems different now. No more long nights checking every single cellular picture coming through. No more high anxiety walks up to a world-class deer’s bedroom. But I promise y’all this, I feel my dad more now than I ever have. Thank you, Dad, for being my constant in life. I can’t wait to see you again and tell you about this one.”
Jacob Latimer’s Kentucky BuckScore: 170⅛ inchesDate of Kill: Sept. 30, 2021Location: Montgomery County, Ky.Weapon: Compound bow
Jacob Latimer first learned of this buck during the 2020 deer season. He finished the season with 11 encounters, but passed the buck each time in hopes of it living another year. During the offseason, he used HuntStand to find and mark numerous stand locations to target this deer.
On Sept. 30, 2021, he was glad of these strategic decisions. He was hunting on the edge of a hayfield between a bedding area and food source. He was bowhunting from the ground with some natural brush around him.
As he waited for the sun to rise, he couldn’t help but think of all his memories of the place, as well as the many times his father had taken him hunting as a kid. All the highlights rushed back in the pre-dawn minutes leading up to legal shooting light.
Minutes ticked by, the sun started its visible ascent and Latimer’s thoughts turned back to the big target buck. “I would hunt this deer in the afternoon and the wind would be blowing 1-2 miles per hour and swirl,” Latimer said. “I could never get a consistent wind. After the day I’d hunt him, he would always show up the next afternoon. I’d have him on camera morning and evening. I finally decided to take a chance and take off work. My thermals would be rising. It was my best chance to get a shot at this buck before he got off his pattern.”
It worked. Soon after daylight, a spike and small 8-point walked out. Then the monster buck appeared. Unfortunately, the spike spotted Latimer move, and started to ease off. Still, he was able to get to full draw, settled the pin on the giant buck and took the 20-yard shot. It hit true.
Four hours later, Latimer returned, and followed the trail 140 yards to where the buck had fallen. “My mom, dad and buddy, Trevor, came to the farm to experience the recovery with me,” he said. “It was a special deer. I’ve dreamed of a deer like this my whole life. I would sit and watch TV and read magazines just hoping for a chance at a buck like this. After all the hard work and patience, it finally paid off.”
Eric Mullina’s Missouri MonsterScore: 174⁶⁄₈ inchesDate of Kill: Sept. 25, 2021Location: Pike County, Mo.Weapon: Elite compound bow
Eric Mullina thought it would be a good decision to hunt whitetails with Indian Hill Outfitters last season, and he was right. He arrowed a 5½-year-old giant.
Sept. 25, 2021, brought warm temperatures in the 80s and clear skies. He was set up in a blind along a fence row between two cut cornfields. He settled in for the afternoon sit and waited for deer movement.
By late afternoon, about 15 deer were out in the open, including a couple of nice bucks. After a while, this deer emerged, and slowly worked toward the blind. Most of the deer walked straight toward him, but the big buck disappeared over the hill.
Thinking the hunt was over, Mullina started looking at his phone, trying to determine a game plan for the next day. Then, much to his surprise, and with only a few minutes of shooting light left, the big deer reemerged in front of him. He grabbed his bow, drew back, settled the pin, and took the 22-yard, broadside shot. The deer ran about 200 yards and crashed.
“I enjoyed every day of the hunt, but being successful with this buck made it a hunt I will remember forever,” Mullina said. “Deer hunting is my peace. It’s where I untangle my mind.”
Jason Lucas’ Illinois WhitetailScore: 168⁴⁄₈ inchesDate of Kill: Dec. 8, 2021Location: Central IllinoisWeapon: Mathews Triax compound bow
Jason Lucas didn’t have any history with this buck from prior seasons, but he knew this was a surefire target when he first saw it in 2021. Still, he only had five or six trail camera photos, and didn’t have much hope of seeing the deer.
On Dec. 8, 2021, though, he did. It was sunny and 40 degrees with a north-northwest wind. He was sitting in a blind on the edge of where CRP, timber and a food plot meet.
All in all, about 15 deer filtered in and out of view. Then, a big deer walked out of the timber to his left. It checked a few scrapes and walked toward Lucas’ location. It spent some time in the CRP, and then entered the food plot.
After several minutes of waiting for a shot opportunity, the deer finally turned broadside. Lucas drew back, settled his pin, and took the 38-yard shot. The buck ran about 35 yards, and Lucas watched him fall.
“After showing friends and family the deer, I received lots of congratulatory messages,” he said. “My two boys were familiar with the buck, as they go through pictures with me. They were very happy for me to take this buck. Every deer I harvest means something. I just love chasing big white-tailed deer.”
Lynn Jared’s Kentucky WhitetailScore: 171⁴⁄₈ inchesDate of Kill: Sept. 7, 2021Location: Clinton County, Ky.Weapon: Bowtech compound bow
Lynn Jared grew up hunting in the hills of Tennessee, and now also hunts in Kentucky. “We started leasing this property in July of 2020, and this buck was the first deer that I got on camera,” he said. “I was super excited. I hunted him hard all of 2020, but he disappeared mid-October. We thought that maybe he had been killed, but when we checked cameras [in] mid-February, he had returned in late December. Although we were in his core area, we knew that if I was going to have a chance to harvest him there, it would have to happen early in the season.”
Fast forwarding to Sept. 7, 2021, the day brought hot temperatures. He was hunting an area mixed with crops, hardwoods and thick cover. His stand location was in a draw between two ridges that led to a destination ag field.
Around 6:55 p.m., this giant buck stepped out of the cover and walked toward him. The deer closed within range, and Jared took the 27-yard, quartering-away shot. The buck spun and took off into thick cover.
After the excitement settled, he climbed down, called his friends and waited for them to arrive to assist with the recovery. Once there, they followed blood and found the deer in a logging road about 75 yards into the tracking job.
“After 38 years of hunting, the dreams of a Booner finally came true,” Jared said. “I was overcome with emotion when we recovered the big eight. It’s hard to put into words. We all shared an emotional moment. He was truly the deer of a lifetime.”