Iowa Lady’s 251 7/8” Muzzleloader Monster Buck

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Today’s guest blog from Dave Nennig, who provides a follow-up on the giant velvet buck his wife Lyla shot with a muzzleloader in Iowa in December 2016. Dave believes “The Freak” remained in velvet that year because he was wounded by a neighboring bowhunter the previous season.

After 14 months of having “The Freak” at the freeze dryer and taxidermist, and looking for someone to officially score him, the deer was finally measured last weekend at the Iowa Deer Classic. The Freak had 28 scorable points and a gross score of 268 6/8, with a net of 251 7/8 non-typical. Just an amazing animal!

From what we have been told, it is probably the largest buck taken in the State of Iowa with a muzzleloader by a woman. Might even rank high in the world in that category. I have attached a couple pictures from the classic.–Dave Nennig

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Dave, I’m pretty sure Lyla’s buck IS the top-scoring whitetail ever shot by a huntress with blackpowder, and SURELY the largest velvet buck. Congrats guys, thanks for sharing this story. I appreciate your support of BIG DEER TV!



Potential State Record Mule Deer Sheds!


My friend Ricardo, a New Mexico hunting outfitter who specializes in limited-entry archery hunts for giant mule deer, found this antler on public land. Look at the size and deepness of the front and back forks–that is what you look for on a trophy mule buck.

The shed taped out a tad over 96 inches. “If you double the antler score for the other side and give him a 30-inch spread the buck would score 223 4/8, potential state record! I’ll keep looking for the other side.”

Picture below is last year’s shed off the same buck. “He put on a lot (tine length and mass) this year, but lost the extra point,” Ricardo says.

Deadline to apply for the New Mexico mule deer and elk draw is March 21.


Oklahoma Man’s Amazing Deer-Skull Artwork

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Three years ago I posted on the amazing skull art of Robert Nichols, a deer hunter from Oklahoma. I told Robert that I thought his work was awesome, incredible really. I figured he had carved, engraved and painted professionally for years. Robert wrote me back:

Hey Mike: Thanks for the compliment on my engravings! This is a new hobby for me. We got snowed in for a couple days last November. My wife had been telling me I should try something like this for a while, so she convinced me to do it. I had a small shed antler and figured, “Why not?”

You asked what tools I use. I’m using a 15-year-old dremel…I just picked it up and hit the ground running.

I was astounded by that and told Robert so. But then I hadn’t seen any more of his outstanding work until these pictures popped up on social. Definitely Robert’s style and as good as ever.

I emailed him and asked why the 3-year break in skull engraving?

Well, turns out Robert suffered a work injury, complications set in and many surgeries followed. He suffered nerve damage, including to one of his hands. “I was off work for 2 years and couldn’t do much of anything,” he told me. “It took a toll both physically and mentally.”

I’m happy to report that Robert is recovering and back to engraving skulls. He has offered to carve and paint a skull for me if I’d send him one. It will go out the door this week and I can’t wait to see it! I also hope to get out there sometime and shoot a BIG DEER TV segment with Robert.

Glad to see you back at it man, you have a gift!

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Mississippi Buck Found Dead: CWD Now Documented In 24 States

cwd map 24 statesEvery time I blog about Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, people read it, yawn and move on. Last year I hosted and produced an episode of BIG DEER TV on Sportsman Channel entitled “State of the Deer Union,” a significant portion of which dealt with the science and dangers of CWD. People watched it and the ratings were good, but I got only a handful of emails on the CWD topic.

TIME TO WAKE UP HUNTERS! CWD continues to spread with POTENTIALLY DEVASTATING long-term impacts on America’s deer herds and the future of hunting.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) reports the first documented case of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state. The 4½-year free-ranging buck was found dead in Issaquena County and collected by MDWFP in late January.

CWD, which was first documented in mule deer in Colorado in 1967, has now been confirmed in 24 states, 3 Canadian provinces and 2 foreign countries.  CWD is found only in hoofed animals such as deer, elk, and moose. The disease affects an animal’s nervous system. Infected deer lose weight, wander aimlessly, salivate and eventually die. It is always fatal.

While many people continue to scoff and blow off CWD, the impacts are now starting to be felt in the way we hunt. Last fall, during the 2017 season, in several different incidents, hunters were charged with illegally transporting deer shot in CWD states across state lines. You can’t just throw a gutted buck in the back of your truck and carry it home across a state line anymore. Most every state in the Nation has now implemented CWD deer transport laws and you MUST KNOW THEM AND ABIDE.

Even more problematic, CWD is now affecting the very core of why most of us hunt—to bring home the venison. While no cases of CWD in humans have been confirmed, there is fear that could change. In a Canadian study three of five primates contracted the disease after eating meat from CWD-infected animals.

If this doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what will.

Steve Demarais of the Mississippi State University Deer Lab said the thought of CWD changing into something that kills humans isn’t out of the question. “It’s morphed and there’s nothing to say it won’t morph into something that humans are more susceptible to.”

In other CWD news: 2 more penned deer recently tested positive for CWD in Pennsylvania. And 15 deer shot by hunters in far northwestern Virginia during the 2017 season tested positive. This really hits home, as I hunt in a county less than 2 hours away.

Most Deer Hunters Per Square Mile in U.S.

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Ran across this QDMA map and found it interesting. Does not surprise me that Pennsylvania and New York are 2 of the top hunter-density states, it’s been that way for decades.

I do question why Michigan is not in the top 12. A decade ago Michigan was at or near the top in number of licensed hunters in the U.S. Michigan hunters killed more than 340,000 deer in 2016-17, second only to Texas, so there is still a lot of deer hunting going on up there.

I mention that the statistics used to build this map came from a 2011 Fish and Wildlife Service study. But since hunter numbers are down across the board and across the states recent years, I believe the list is still mostly accurate.

The more hunters per square mile, the more pressure on the bucks, of course. To that end, here’s a good passage from the story that accompanies the map:

How do you combat high hunter density? In most areas there is no easy trick to reducing the number of hunters on a large scale, and in most cases, you don’t want to. Every hunter is important to our wildlife management system and to the future of hunting. Rather than reducing hunter numbers, it is generally better to reduce their impacts in areas of high hunter density. Spreading hunters across a property, limiting ATV use, and paying close attention to wind direction can all enhance hunting opportunities without reducing the number of hunters.

One more thing. See why I enjoy hunting out West so much, in Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, etc.? Plenty of room for both deer and hunters to roam out there.