It’s hard to believe the 2021 deer season is underway, but it is. And it won’t be long before true giants begin hitting the dirt. A few nice ones already have, and more are surely to follow. Until then, here are seven big bucks to get you pumped up for deer season.
Jonathan Mullins’ Stud Buck Buck: 178⅞ inches Date of Kill: Sept. 8, 2020 Location of Kill: Kentucky Weapon: Compound bow
Jonathan Mullins spends quite a bit of time chasing Kentucky whitetails, and in 2020, it paid off big. He let this giant buck walk during the 2019 late season. He had a few trail camera photos of the deer, and kept tabs on him, hoping it would make it through the year without getting tagged. It did, and he continued monitoring the deer throughout last summer. He figured out where the deer was bedding and devised a game plan.
The season arrived, and he saw the buck two days in a row. On the third day, Sept. 8, 2020, everything came together. He hunted along a soybean field. A wet weather drain and waterway trickled behind him. He expected the buck to emerge from the wooded bedding area to his left.
That afternoon, upon arriving to his hunting spot, two does were already in the field. He had to crawl to get there undetected. After settling in, a few more does appeared. Then, a half-rack 3-year-old and a 2-year-old 8-pointer walked into view, followed by another doe and fawn.
Mullins watched these deer for a while, and then he saw the giant. Soon after it walked into the field, he took the broadside shot from the ground.
“The recovery was great,” he said. “Had great blood. Found him pretty fast once we got his blood trail.” It only went about 50 yards before expiring.
“This deer means the world to me,” Mullins said. “My best friend since we were kids hunted with me and filmed the whole thing. I had several good friends come with me to recover him. This is a deer you dream about.”
Josh Tatum’s Droptine Tank Buck: 182 inches Date of Kill: Nov. 1, 2020 Location of Kill: Kansas Weapon: Compound bow
Josh Tatum is a diehard Kansas bowhunter, and many of his hunts appear on The Hunting Public YouTube channel. His giant 2020 buck was no exception.
On Nov. 1, 2020, he climbed a tree in a long drainage system. Soon after daylight, a young 8-pointer walked through. Then, a few does walked into view. After that, a giant 5-year-old 9-pointer stepped out of the thicket. Unfortunately, the wind swirled, and it caught Tatum’s wind. Afterward, a few more does and younger bucks pushed through, but that concluded the morning hunt.
That afternoon, Tatum went back to the same spot. Some does kicked off the sit. Soon after, a giant droptine buck followed a doe through the drainage. It stopped at a scrape, and Tatum drew his bow. He took the 40-yard, quartering-away shot. It appeared to hit the buck high in the lungs.
After giving the buck some time, he got down and looked for blood. He immediately spotted the buck bedded 200 yards away. So, he backed out, and came back at 1 a.m. The buck was no longer in that bed.
The next morning, they returned with a leashed tracking dog. They spotted the buck bedded again high on a grassy ridge line. Tatum tried to crawl up on the buck, but it ran off. He eventually caught back up to it at a pond and shot the buck a second time. It expired in the pond. He swam out to get it and brought it back to shore.
The buck ended up scoring a whopping 182 inches. You can watch the hunt here.
Brandon Hill’s Ohio Hammer Buck: 190 inches Date of Kill: Oct. 16, 2020 Location of Kill: Ohio Weapon: Crossbow
Brandon Hill believes his monster 9-pointer to be one of the largest mainframe nines in Ohio history. He bought the farm it called home in 2017. He first captured photos of it in 2018, and he spent the next three seasons learning the deer. He had numerous encounters and close calls in 2018 and 2019, but never tagged the giant nicknamed “Bent 3.”
In 2020, he put together a plan to hunt this deer, and eventually it worked. “On opening day of the 2020 archery season, the buck made an appearance in front of the trail camera,” Hill said.
He knew the first big cold front of the season was his chance. “Mother Nature answered with a forecasted cold front for the days of Oct. 16, 17 and 18,” Hill said. He took time off work, and he and his wife traveled to the farm for the weekend.
“The morning of October 16, I settled into my hay bale blind at 4:45 a.m.,” Hill said. “A couple of does were bumped off the plot as I climbed in, but it was early enough the disturbance was minimal. At daybreak, six does and a young 8-pointer fed in the plot. For thirty minutes, the deer grazed on the clover, and they slowly filtered out of sight.”
Around 8:20 a.m., Hill looked up and saw Bent 3 was standing in the plot. His heart started racing, and he slowly readied for the shot. After several tense moments, the buck started feeding. That’s when Hill raised his crossbow and settled the sights. He slowly squeezed the trigger, and the shot hit its mark. The buck bolted for cover.
“Two-and-a-half years of chasing the buck waited in the balance of a recovery,” Hill said. “I walked back to the farmhouse and waited.”
Five hours later, he and some friends returned to the food plot and started the blood trail. They recovered the deer quickly.
“Although exciting, it was a bittersweet ending,” Hill said. “The buck that had consumed my thoughts and the preparation for the moment had all come to fruition. There would be no more chasing Bent 3.”
Jeromy Davis’ Heavy-Beamed Buck Buck: 190⅛ inches Date of Kill: Oct. 22, 2020 Location of Kill: Ohio Weapon: Compound bow
Last season, Jeromy Davis hunted a monster whitetail with heavy mass. He had no long-term history with the 5½-year-old deer, but did start getting pictures of it in the summer. Come October, the buck was still around, and he decided to hunt it.
With a slight west-southwest wind, he eased into his hunting spot near a cornfield with slight rolling hills. A couple of drainage ditches weaved through the countryside. A small thicket was nearby, too.
On the afternoon of Oct. 22, 2020, Davis went afield in hopes of seeing the deer. He didn’t wait long before seeing the giant. It was the only deer to show up. Standing corn kept the deer to within 5 yards. The arrow hit its mark, and the deer ran 80 yards and fell over.
“I feel blessed,” Davis said. “Honestly, I have had a lot of heartbreaking seasons in my life, and I didn’t think this one would be any different. I was hunting hard, and he disappeared for three weeks and three days. I checked my camera [and] he slipped back in. So I hunted that evening and I feel truly blessed by God I harvested this buck of a lifetime.”
Jacob Darbyshire’s Iowa Whitetail Buck: 180 inches Date of Kill: Oct. 29, 2020 Location of Kill: Iowa Weapon: Compound bow
Jacob Darbyshire shot a giant in 2019, and followed up again in 2020. He had four years of history with the stud he called the “Drop Tine 9,” and hoped to finish the story in 2020.
On Oct. 29, 2020, he got his chance. The weather was nice, calm and chilly. Sparkly frost covered the pre-dawn ground. He slowly eased in to one of his favorite stand locations.
“The area I was hunting in had a small micro food plot in front of me, a big hardwood bedding area directly behind me and to my right, and a big 20-acre CRP field to my left,” he said.
Numerous does fed into the food plot before sunrise. Drop Tine 9 was the first buck to hit the plot, scent checking for does right at first light. Darbyshire took the broadside 32-yard shot and it dashed out of sight.
After giving the deer some time, he recovered it easily. All the history with this giant, dominant deer ended in grand fashion. He called it a very humbling experience.
“Ironically enough, I was very fortunate to be able to harvest this buck on the same exact day as my 2019 259-inch buck,” Darbyshire said. “It is something that I certainly will never forget. That day has become very special to me as a whitetail hunter. I certainly am incredibly blessed to have been able to chase and harvest two Iowa giants back-to-back years.”
Brook Martin’s Booner Buck Buck: Unscored (190-inch guestimate) Date of Kill: Nov. 3, 2020 Location of Kill: Iowa Weapon: Compound bow
Brook Martin started getting photos of this giant in 2019. He continued seeing the deer in 2020. It grew into a giant 5½-year-old buck. “He was not on the hit list, but after seeing him in person, I realized he was bigger than I thought,” Martin said.
The morning of Nov. 3, 2020, was warmer than normal, but he had a southwest wind, which was great for the inside corner he was hunting. A creek helped funnel deer right by him. He expected the buck to be bedded to the north.
“I hunted there because a southwest wind gave the deer the wind, but I was just off it enough to be undetected,” Martin said. “I had a slow hunt and was not seeing much.”
A small spike was his only buck sighting, so he rattled. A familiar shooter buck he had on camera responded immediately. He gave it a pass, but started to regret it. He grunted at it again, and the buck returned. Still, knowing the giant buck was likely in the area, he couldn’t bring himself to shoot the smaller buck.
That proved to be a good decision. Once it got 70 yards away, the giant buck he was after walked into view and started posturing toward the smaller deer. Martin called loudly and snort-wheezed at the deer. The buck responded. It walked in to 7 yards, and Martin took the shot.
Eight hours later, he took up the blood trail and recovered the giant. “This is a great deer, and another one to justify my move to Iowa to chase my dream of hunting mature public-land whitetails,” Martin said. “I moved three years ago and wished I had moved sooner.”
Johnny Ferrell’s Mainframe Monster Buck: 186½ inches Date of Kill: Nov. 1, 2020 Location of Kill: Ohio Weapon: Compound bow
Johnny Ferrell and his brother are dedicated deer hunters. They spend time together in the woods every fall, and each of them are experienced outdoorsmen. So, when they started getting photos of this monster Ohio deer, they couldn’t help but go after it.
The deer showed up in late October, giving them only nine days of trail camera history. It was enough, though. On Nov. 1, the Ferrells went afield. While it had been unseasonably warm, it turned to cold, snowy and windy weather. They expected it to spur plenty of deer movement.
The setup was a wooded funnel between two crop fields next to an access road. Soon after settling in for the afternoon sit, two does walked out. Fifteen minutes later, the giant entered the open, too. Ferrell took the 18-yard shot.
After giving the deer plenty of time to expire, he took up the blood trail. The shot was a liver hit, and upon finding the buck, had to finish it with a second arrow. Afterward, they had to recover the deer from a nearby body of water.
“My twin brother and I started filming our hunts together the year before this harvest,” Ferrell said. “To have my brother in the tree with me meant the world. To be able to experience that with him and document it was an incredible experience. He is one of the largest 9-pointers ever taken. [I’m] very fortunate to have opportunities on deer of this caliber.”
All things considered, these seven deer were giants. And more like them will fall this season. Who knows—maybe you’ll tag one of your own.