Quiz time: if you are a deer hunter, where is the best spot on the planet for a hunter to tag a true-blue BIG freak nasty whitetail, the kind of monster buck that we truly dig here at H-365?
Ok, time’s up.
In a word, the answer is Iowa.
Take this bruiser that showed up in the H-365 Inbox earlier this week from a good friend with some great Iowa connections.
Apparently, a farmer in the Hawkeye State got in on the ground floor of a big time harvest of some serious whitetail headbone!
Here’s what the e-mail said:
“Saw it bedded down while doing chores at north farm. snuck up on it and shot while it was bedded down. drove past it twice, it never moved. prob score around 180 nontypical, not for sure how to score. didn’t have time to measure had to catch ducks… (taxidermist) has now.”
I should hope the taxidermist has it now – that’s a world class monster buck sporting a Boone & Crockett caliber 10-point mainframe with baseball bat size mass, good tine length, and at least seven non-typical points!
Which leads me to ask our farmer friend in Iowa – do you need any extra help with your farm chores?!?
It also leads me back to an ongoing coffee shop discussion that I’ve had with some of my best hunting pals in recent years.
The gist of that conversation is this: where’s the best spot in North America to tag a bruiser buck like the freak nasty pictured above?
Well, the numbers don’t lie, right?
After all, according to the Boone & Crockett Club in recent days, when it comes to total number of Booner bucks tagged by hunters since 2000, Illinois leads the charge with 523 total; followed by Wisconsin with 442 Booner bucks; and then by Iowa with 339 such critters.
But to fully understand the above numbers, then please consider the following figures as well.
In Illinois, the 2005/2006 ESPNOutdoors.com Deer Forecast survey that I authored showed that the Land of Lincoln state had an approximate 800,000 deer that year.
And while there were approximately 600,000 permits issued that year, previous data had shown that the Illini state has generally had around 230,000 deer hunters overall.
Incidentally, the state’s deer hunters took some 188,425 deer in 2008.
In Wisconsin, a state with roughly 1 million whitetails as of 2008, the Badger State reported 642,419 licensed gun deer hunters in 2008 that took a total of 352,601 deer including 103,845 antlered deer.
The state also reported 259,921 licensed archery hunters who took 99,281 total deer including 34,662 antlered deer.
Finally, according to the 2005/2006 ESPNOutdoors.com Deer Forecast, the Hawkeye State had 306,114 deer hunters and approximately 370,000 deer that year.
Incidentally, Iowa deer hunters took 142,194 deer last fall including 51,710 antlered bucks.
So what does all of this numerical mumbo-jumbo actually mean?
Well, for starters, Wisconsin and Illinois both have much bigger deer herds and plenty more hunters than Iowa does.
So it would stand to reason that these two states will produce more sheer numbers of B&C bucks than their neighboring state west of the Mississippi does.
But that certainly doesn’t mean that the hunting and the big buck quality is any better in Illinois and Wisconsin than it is in Iowa.
In fact, it’s probably pretty close to being pretty much the same in each state.
Just look at what each state has produced in recent years, especially on the non-typical side of the scoring sheet.
In Iowa, teenager Tony Lovstuen downed the largest buck ever taken by a hunter in 2003 when he tagged a 307 5/8 inches net non-typical monster in Monroe County.
But just two years before, Illinois deer hunter Jerry D. Bryant knocked over his own freak nasty when he tagged a 304 3/8 inches net non-typical monster in 2001.
And then of course, Wisconsin has stolen its own share of big buck headlines this fall with the multi-pointed giant killed by Wayne Schumacher late last month. That buck – known as the “Lucky Buck” – is rumored to have a green score in the 251-inch range.
So you see, I believe that the truth here is simply this: that a serious deer hunter can’t go wrong with a tag in any of those three big buck states this fall.
Especially when they are hunting down on the farm during H-365’s first annual “Freak Nasty Week!”