In Perry County, Ohio, Ethan Featheroff arrowed a 20-point giant that scored 220 7/8”.
In Logan County, West Virginia, Donny Baisden scouted, hunted and shot the awesome unicorn buck that taped out at 182 5/8.
The 20-year trend of hunters shooting monster non-typical whitetails continues, and many more giants will fall in 2023.
Here are 3 reasons bucks grow such huge, gaudy racks.
Injury: Biologists have long known that trauma to a buck’s skull plate or velvet antlers or a major bodily injury (i.e., a broken leg) can cause a rack to grow crazily during the current antler cycle or even for several years thereafter. Injury probably accounts for the most freakish racks, like a “cactus buck.” If deer tries to jump a wire fence but is castrated (ouch!) he might just grow a clump of semi-soft, stalk-line tines that are never shed. A buck struck by a car on the right side of his body might grow a big blob for a left main beam.
Genetics & Age: “While injuries do occur, in my opinion genetics is the primary cause for all the non-typical antler growth we’re seeing,” says noted whitetail biologist Mickey Hellickson. He says that many if not most whitetail bucks have the genes to grow drop tines, stickers and the like on an otherwise “clean” 10-point rack, but most of the deer are shot or killed by cars at a relatively young age, before they are able to express those non-typical characteristics. Hellickson says that non-typical racks generally don’t begin to show until a buck is at least 5 years old.
Prime Protein: “It’s rare for a 6- or 7-year-old buck to be a clean typical these days on private managed land where there is much nutritious food,” adds Missouri’s Dr. Grant Woods. He is referring not only to farms with ample crops like soybeans, but also to lands where people plant food plots, and sometimes supplement with protein feedings. The more protein-packed food a buck eats the more nutrients shoot to his growing antlers. The more and faster those antlers grow, the more the rack is apt to express non-typical traits as the deer ages.
Good luck, hope you see one of these giants this season!