With a range encompassing most of Canada, Mexico, and the Continental United States, whitetail deer are one of the most widespread and commonly hunted species of big game in North America. While monster bucks occasionally turn up in states without reputations for producing gigantic deer, the biggest typical whitetail deer in the major record books were hunted in places known for big bucks: Illinois and Canada.
The Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and Safari Club International (SCI) record books use similar methods for scoring typical (and non-typical) whitetail deer, but there are some notable differences between them.
SCI scores typical whitetail bucks by measuring the length of the main beam of each antler, the length of all typical tines, the circumference of the main beam at the smallest place between each typical tine, and the greatest inside spread of the main beams.
On the other hand, the Boone and Crockett and Pope & Young Clubs score typical whitetail bucks using those same characteristics listed above, but only credit an inside spread length for the deer up to the length of the longest main beam. Additionally, those organizations deduct points for differences in symmetry and the presence of non-typical points on a typical deer, but SCI does not.
As you’ll see in a minute, the same deer can have significantly different Safari Club International and Boone & Crocket scores for these reasons. Make no mistake though, the bucks listed below are all extremely large typical whitetail deer.
Finally, all of the bucks on this list of the biggest typical whitetail deer were wild deer taken on free range hunts. They weren’t farm raised or genetically modified animals killed behind a high fence. In fact, all of these deer were taken by working class men on self-guided hunts, proving that it’s not necessary to spend a ton of money to take a world record typical whitetail buck.
Hunter: Mel Johnson
When: October 1965
Where: Peoria County, Illinois
Method: Recurve Bow
Points: 13 (7×6)
Total Score: 204 4/8″
A lot has changed in the bow hunting world in the last 50 years, but the Pope & Young record whitetail Mel Johnson killed in 1965 remains the biggest typical whitetail deer ever taken with a bow. After sighting the enormous deer several times earlier that year without getting a shot, Mel finally managed to arrow the buck from a tree stand placed along the edge of a bean field at the end of October 1965. Not only did the buck have a massive rack that netted 204 4/8″, but the 5 1/2 year old deer also weighed an incredible 270 pounds after Johnson field dressed it! Though a few bucks have come close since then, it’s entirely possible that Johnson’s buck will remain the biggest typical whitetail deer taken with archery equipment for another couple of decades.
Hunter: Milo Hanson
When: November 1993
Where: Biggar, Saskatchewan
Points: 12 (6×6)
Total Score: 213 5/8″
Milo Hanson and his friends kept seeing a giant whitetail buck in the woods near some agricultural fields outside Biggar, Saskatchewan for several weeks before deer season started. They ended up organizing a couple of deer drives to push the deer out of cover and several other hunters in the area ended up missing shots on the massive buck before Hanson eventually connected with a shot that brought it down in late November. That deer turned out to be the new Boone & Crockett record whitetail and shattered the previous record held by James Jordan by over 7″. With an almost perfectly symmetrical rack that resulted in very few deductions, Milo Hanson’s buck has stood as the biggest typical whitetail deer in the Boone & Crockett record book for over 20 years.
Hunter: Brian Damery
Where: Macon County, Illinois
Points: 12 (6×6)
Total Score: 227 1/8″
There are very few typical whitetail deer that net over 200″, but somehow hunters managed to take two bucks that size in 1993: Milo Hanson’s legendary buck in Saskatchewan and Brian Damery’s buck in Illinois (two different hunters accomplished a similar feat with black bears in 2011). While Damery’s buck had a much higher gross score than Hanson’s, deductions for lack of symmetry and the presence of non-typical points knocked his net B&C score down to 200 2/8. However, SCI does not deduct points for differences in symmetry or the presence of non-typical points (SCI just does not add non-typical point measurements to the score on typical whitetail bucks). For that reason, Brian Damery’s buck is the biggest typical whitetail deer in the SCI record book and is arguably the largest typical whitetail deer of all-time with an eye-popping score of 227 1/8″.