These obsessed whitetail hunters like you hit the woods, beat the odds and shot dream bucks last season. Add the racks together and you come up with an amazing 1,191 total inches of bone! Here are their stories, along with some takeaway lessons that we hope will help you tag a monster this season.
The Crutchfield Giant
On Nov. 27, 2006, Maryland firefighter and staunch NRA supporter Bill Crutchfield shot the new state record non-typical buck. Many people believe the 28-point, 2681/8-inch titan is the biggest whitetail ever killed on the East Coast. "Shooting a buck like that changes your life, makes you want to give something back to the outdoors," said Bill, who has volunteered to become executive director of Kids Hunting for a Cure, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to research hospitals and foundations dedicated to developing cures for cancer and childhood diseases. Here is Bill's big-buck story in his own words:
"It was 2 p.m. that Monday when I climbed into a ladder stand by the river. The sky was clear, and a slight breeze off the river hit my face. Things seemed perfect. I figured that if I saw a shooter he would be in the marsh. It had been a wet fall, and the corn was still standing on the section of farm I hunted. Fine by me, because there is nothing better than sitting on the only standing corn for miles at the end of November.
"At 2:45 I turned around and almost lost it. A buck too large to imagine was lying down behind me, shaking his head and huge rack, almost like he was showing off. Hardly able to believe my eyes, I stood up and grabbed my Remington 870 shotgun. I looked through the scope, but I couldn't find him. My heart pounded and I tried not to panic. I knew this deer, and now I knew how massive he was. I calmed my nerves a bit and ranged him at 97 yards. Maybe I will shoot him bedded. I can make that shot and not give him the chance to get up, I thought. He appeared to be lying broadside with his rack to the right, but I wasn't sure. Maybe that's a mound of marsh mud? My mind was trying to play tricks. Control your emotions, don't panic and mess up!
"I decided to hold out, wait for him to stand up. I had plenty of daylight left. At 3:45 I looked past the bedded monster and shivered. A large, white rack moved left to right through the marsh. I put my scope on the deer-a 20-inch-plus 8-pointer.
"I focused back on the big buck. He was still bedded, but something told me to get ready. Suddenly the giant stood up. He was severely quartering away, looking into a patch of 6-foot-tall marsh grass in front of him, wanting to go where the 8-point had gone. I knew that if he got into the thick grass he'd be gone.
"I placed the crosshairs of the scope on the back of the buck's rib cage, took a deep breath, said a little prayer and squeezed the trigger. Boom! I shook badly and my heart pounded. ‘Did I make a good shot?' I started to second-guess. ‘Calm down! You made a good shot,' I repeated over and over, it's done.
"I climbed down and trailed the buck a short way. Then there he was. The slug had been perfect, and he had gone only about 40 yards. Now I really could not believe my eyes. I knew the buck was huge, but I could not believe the incredible rack I was staring at, tall and thick with 14 points on each side. I had seen some big deer and killed some big deer in my life, but this one was different. Then the shock set in."
Lessons Learned: Though, at the end of November, the rut is winding down everywhere outside of the South, don't give up. Older bucks will begin to cruise hard again for the last estrous does after most of the does have been bred. Crutchfield was also smart to hunt security cover (the standing corn and swamp) after hunting pressure had forced bucks to hole up. Then he controlled his nerves and made a good shot.