Before there were deer hunting celebrities with their own TV shows, NASA-grade clothing to block scent or entire companies devoted to whitetail management, there were men in wool shirts with old war rifles and corn cob pipes. They didn’t hunt for trophies or accolades, and they didn’t have sponsors. After a Great Depression and a pair of world wars, they were simply trying to fill a freezer and eat the fruit of freedom’s land.
Things have obviously changed, but a passion for whitetail hunting is what still connects our generation with those of days gone by. The clothes and methods may have matured, but the love of the outdoors—and of great American whitetail hunting—has not. To celebrate that rich hunting heritage, we’ve teamed up with Boone and Crockett to bring you the 20 biggest typical whitetail bucks of all time.
On October 29, 1965, Johnson left work and hid in a bush along a bean field. He saw the buck emerge nearly 300 yards away, and he waited patiently until he had an ethical shot. With his 72-pound recurve, Johnson arrowed the buck, which field dressed at 270 pounds.
With the buck of a lifetime within 20 yards, Gibson sealed the deal with a solid shot from his .308. As a simple meat hunter, he sold the rack to the Show-Me Big Bucks Club for $200 and didn’t look back. The club still owns the trophy today, and despite offers of up to $50,000, it says the buck is not for sale.
The taxidermist apparently moved, first to Minnesota and then to Florida, taking the massive rack with him. At that point the buck was lost to history. Some time later, a relative of Jordan’s told him about a trophy whitetail mount he bought at a garage sale for $3. When Jordan went to check it out, he was shocked to see the buck he killed many years prior. The buck was given back to him, and his longstanding place as the No. 1 typical whitetail in the world was cemented.
While many hunters in the area attempted to track down the massive buck, Hansen beat them all to the punch, taking down the buck with two steady shots from his rifle. Hansen had the buck scored and re-scored, maybe because he didn’t believe his own eyes. Nevertheless, his record stands as the biggest typical whitetail in history.