Virginia: Monster Buck (201 7/8”) to Appear on BIG DEER TV

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The new season of Big Deer TV premieres in July on Sportsman Channel and airs through the end of the year. More later on days and air times.

One of the episodes we’re working on right now is a compilation of conversations and interviews I’ve had with regular hunters across the nation who have shot monster whitetails. I love to hear these guys tell their stories of the 180- to 200-inch dream bucks they shot, and I think you will too.

One of those stories comes from Virginia and really hits home. The giant was shot less than 30 miles from my house by a great old country boy, Jimmy Taylor. Actually Jimmy and his buck appeared briefly on my show 4 years ago, but in the new episode we expand the story, which goes like this:

On November 17, 2007, Jimmy, who works at the farmer’s coop and takes his vacation every year during the first week of the VA rifle season, climbed into his ladder stand about 4 PM. His brother had killed a good buck that morning, and he was riding Jimmy pretty hard about it, bragging and getting away with it as only a brother can.

Jimmy heard crunching in the leaves and saw a doe. “She was really small,” he remembers. He heard more hoofs—a huge deer was behind her, “just meandering slowly, taking his time,” Jimmy said. With more than 40 years of deer hunting under his belt, Jimmy knew the buck was big, so he raised his .270 and fired.

It was a 90-yard shot, and the 150-grain Core-Lokt dropped the buck on the spot. Jimmy walked over to it about fell over! “I knew he was big when I saw him, but man I didn’t know he was that big!”

Jimmy had never seen the monster before, nor had anybody else. That is takeaway #1 from this story. Isn’t it fascinating how a world-class deer can come out of the woodwork, never having been seen before, dragged out into the open one November day by a sweet-smelling doe?

This was an incredible deer from a region known for some good bucks, but rarely if ever a 200-incher. So remember, you might kill your dream buck anywhere, anytime. Don’t get discouraged if you’ve haven’t seen or shot a good buck in a while, maybe this will be your year.

Jimmy’s brother heard the shot and came running. He kept up his ribbing, “I hope you didn’t let the big one get away!” until he saw the rack, and then he and Jimmy went crazy.

Jimmy carried the head to a prominent VA taxidermist who has mounted some deer for my dad and me over the years. “Jimmy, that’s the biggest buck anybody has bought in here in 50 years!” he said.

Tale of the tape: total points 20…spread 22 4/8…main beams 27 7/8 (R) and 27 1/8 (L)…total mass measurements 44 5/8…final score 201 7/8.

No surprise Jimmy’s monster was first in the VA big-buck contest that year. It is currently the 23rd largest NT ever shot in VA.

Postscript: Several months after shooting his dream buck, Jimmy heard that a kid riding a 4-wheeler had found an enormous shed antler in the area. He tracked the kid down and after some wrangling, acquired the huge chunk of bone that had fallen off the buck’s head some 9 months before Jimmy shot him. You’ll see and hear all about that on the TV show.

Takeaway #2: The kid found the shed 500 yards from where Jimmy killed the buck. Proves once again that many old whitetails are homebodies, and the older they get the smaller their core areas get. Find a huge shed now and there’s a chance the huge buck will be living right there this fall.

Sad Day For Outdoor Mags: Harris Publications Shuts Down

harris 1 (2 hours ago): New York-based enthusiast publisher Harris Publications notified employees today that the company is shutting down, effective immediately, after nearly four decades.

Founded in 1977, Harris published a wide variety of special interest magazines over the years…

“The magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain,” read an official company statement obtained by Folio:. ”We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.”

This is a tough day for me because back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I did a ton of work for Harris. In fact at one time when I first took the insane plunge and went freelance, I made most of a very meager living writing for their mags. Back then Harris was doing well and publishing a bunch of mid-grade, how-to hunting magazines, including Guns and Hunting, Whitetail Hunting Strategies, Bowhunting Strategies, Deer and Big Game Rifles and more.

I eagerly wrote as much as they would let me for all those rags, but my crowning glory came in the early 2000s, when the editors of the Harris outdoor group (Gerry and Nino, who remain my dear friends to this day) gave me my own magazine entitled Whitetail Hunters Digest.

My own mag! For years, I wrote the entire publication, 16 to 20 articles. It was published once a year, a “one shot,” and hit the newsstand in summer as a primer for deer season. It was a unique and coveted gig for a freelance writer and a hell of a lot of work. I embraced it, obsessed over it, loved it.

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My Lord, that was 15 years ago, but it seems like 50. I miss the grind and the deadlines for the incredibly scant pay. I miss working for and with my editors Gerry and Nino (Gerry had moved on from Harris a while back, and I hope Nino lands on his feet, he’s one of the best men in this industry).

I fear and know that in this digital/mobile world more print mags will go away, likely sooner than later. And it makes me sad, for I was born to write for hook and bullet magazines, not the ones on a screen, but the ones you pick up with your hands, and flip and read. Not many people seem do that anymore, especially you Millennials.

Well, at least I had some vision, and have my Big Deer Blog—digital! I plan on hunting and writing it (more correctly, posting it) until the day they put me under.

It’s a little after 4 p.m. I’m going to go pour 3 fingers, sit in my favorite chair, shut off my phone and read a yellowed 15-year-old issue of Whitetail Hunter’s Digest cover to cover. (My gosh, I’d forgotten the photos were black and white back then).

Here’s to you Harris Publications, thanks for one hell of a ride.


Big-Buck Friday: Indiana Keihn Buck Scored 234”

IN keihn monsterNEW FEATURE: To keep us dreaming big at what this fall might hold, I’ll post a huge buck from the BIG DEER archives every Friday for the next few months:

Just before 8:00 a.m. on November 22, 2005, Jack Keihn looked up and saw a monster coming. The buck dropped off a food plot on top of a ridge, traveled down a logging road and dipped into a ravine, his nose to the ground in search of a hot doe. The rut was winding down, and the old boy was looking for one last fling.

The buck ambled close to Jack’s big, wooden “hut stand,” and he fired his 20-gauge shotgun. The slug hit high and the deer bounded off. Jack got down and started tracking. He found the buck and finished it off with a second slug. He walked up to the giant with the gnarled rack and about fell over when it sunk in what he had just shot.

By all accounts, Jack, pictured here with son, Jake, is a humble and likeable fellow who isn’t comfortable with the celebrity that came with shooting this monster. (Jack and Jake are obviously AC/DC fans–cool!) He considers himself a down to earth guy who went out and got crazy lucky one day. Jack was offered big money for the rack, but he says it’s not for sale.

The skinny on the Keihn buck: 23 points; 6×5 typical frame grosses 206 1/8”; subtract 11 3/8 ” of deductions and the rack nets 194 6/8”; add 39 4/8″ of non-typical growth for a total score of 234 2/8″. At the time, the titan ranked as the number 3 non-typical ever killed with a shotgun in Indiana.

Two lessons:

1) You might believe that deer will spook from a big, wooden stand like Jack’s hut, but not really. Deer get used to permanent structures the longer they sit and age and become part of the woods. Especially during the rut, a doe-crazed giant will walk right under a huge perch some days.

2. While most slug hunters want the firepower of a 12-gauge, a 20 will do the job fine. An old rule of thumb is that it takes 1,000 ft-lbs of energy to kill a deer. The 20 gauge has plenty. Today’s best modern deer loads (2¾” and 3”) produce muzzle velocities of around 1,800 fps and muzzle energies of 1,800-1,900 ft-lbs. And 20-gauge slug guns kick less.


Iowa: Double-Beam Buck Scored 219″

iowa paul hein 2011 1Let’s end the week with the story of a 200-inch buck from the Big Deer archives. In November 2011, high-school welding instructor and assistant football coach Paul Hein shot the awesome beast: 

Got to my ladder stand at 3:25 pm. Hunting 30 yards from an unpicked corn field and 70 to 100 yards from some bedding areas. Wind was from the NW 10-15 mph and temp was about 40 degrees.

I started rattling, grunting and bleating and repeated that every 20-30 minutes. About 4:50 I called again. The wind had calmed down by then. I heard movement a bit to my right and noticed a small buck heading in my direction from the NW. He looked very nervous and kept looking over his shoulder. I figured another deer was coming behind him so I stood up.

The big buck was right on his tail! I noticed right away he was a shooter with those double main beams. He came straight in looking for a fight, and he walked 20 yards in front of me. Made a double-lung shot; he ran 40 to 50 yards and I heard a loud crash in the timber.

Got down and found my blood-covered arrow. Blood trail made tracking easy. When I got to him I just sat down in front of his rack to calm down! Spent the next few minutes just admiring him. Had been hunting 5 days a week since the archery season started, and had not been seeing much at all.

Buck had 27 points and scored at 219 green. Thanks, Heiner


Alabama Hunter’s True Deer Obsession

alabama hert attack buckGot this email the other day with “Deer Obsession” in the subject line:

Mike: I watch your show religiously, and would like to share this story. I live in Alabama, and this past January, 27, I had a heart attack while at work. Spent 3 days in the hospital and was released to go home on the 29th. I wasn’t able to get into the woods for a few days in my ladder stand, but finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

On a warm, rainy morning I walked down to my pop-up blind and had a seat. At 10:30 this buck came by. Not a monster but I’m proud of him anyway. He will go on the wall. Just wanted to share this with you, and thanks for your time.–Allen P. from Alabama

Allen, great buck and he should go on the wall as testament to your passion for deer hunting. Glad that BIG DEER TV and I could be part of your inspiration in some way. God bless and continue to recuperate and get better so you’re ready to go for next season!—M.H.