These non-typical monsters will challenge where you think you’ll get a trophy buck.
The sunshine state, after all, has soil that’s lacking, not nearly as much agriculture as other southern and midwestern states, and is chock-full of people driving Cadillacs, none of which contribute to a healthy (or trophy producing) deer herd.
Is what we’ve all come to believe, however, actually true? While big deer can pop up anywhere, Florida is the last state that many of us would expect to produce a record-book whitetail.
After going through this list of 10 of the biggest deer ever killed in Florida, however, you may have to ask yourself: Have Florida’s hunters pulled one over on all of us?
10. Clay Mickler Buck
The 10th largest buck ever killed in Florida was killed back in 1985 in Pasco County, just north of the Tampa area. While not many details of this record-book whitetail (and even fewer pictures; i.e. zero) are readily available, a non-typical buck measuring 170 4/8 inches is notable regardless of where it’s taken.
9. Robert Partin Buck
Robert Partin took this 170 6/8-inch monster with his rifle in 2010. Alachua County, situated north of Gainesville along Interstate 75, has offered up several trophy bucks over the years, including a 157-inch typical in 2008. While there aren’t many details to this story, the pictures say it all.
8. Tommy Sims Buck
Jackson County makes its first of multiple appearances on this list with a 172-inch monster killed by Tommy Sims all the way back in 1994. Along with several others on the list, pictures of this amazing animal are not readily available. Perhaps Florida big-buck hunters like to play their cards close to the vest?
7. Bruce Holley Buck
Woods ’n Water magazine named Bruce Holley’s 2012 buck their “Florida Buck of the Year,” and with good reason. Killed along the Interstate 10 corridor east of Tallahassee, this Madison County non-typical sported 17 scorable points (22 total) totaling 176 3/8 inches.
Holley spotted the 218-pound buck and its heavily palmated rack the first time he had actually hunted his friend’s private land; a friend who, in fact, had no idea this massive buck was calling his farm, home. An 80-yard shot from Holley’s .270 was all it took to seal the deal. “I am very proud of this deer” Holley said in an interview about his once in a lifetime trophy. “It is way bigger than any other buck I have ever harvested, and I have been hunting my whole life.”
We hope you keep hunting Bruce.
6. Lee Crews Buck
While no pictures could be found of the number six deer on our list, the hunter who harvested it certainly has a story to tell.
Lee Crews, who retired in 1995 after serving 32 years with the Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission (thanks Lee!) first spotted the deer on his hunt club the year before he harvested it. “I made up my mind I was only going to hunt this trophy deer,” Crews told The Florida Times-Union. “The deer had started a minor rut at the end of muzzleloading season, and I knew there should be a major rut in the first week of gun season.”
His hunch paid off, and after passing on what he thought was a good 10 pointer (turned out to be a 12 pointer when it was killed by his son on the same day, from the same stand) Crews put a clean shot on this 17-point, 179-inch hoss of a buck. While it only weighed 176 pounds, state biologists estimate the buck to be between 6 and 7 years old.
Maybe letting bucks get older really does pay off.
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5. W.L. Hurst Buck
The Florida Panhandle is the area of the state that most hunters associate with big deer, partly because of its proximity to states that aren’t Florida. While over the last few years this region of the Sunshine State have benefitted greatly from quality deer management practices, Calhoun County, which is northeast of Panama City Beach, offered up a 180-inch monster all the back in 1970.
While not much is known about this buck, we do know that hunter W.L. Hurst killed it in Calhoun County in 1970. We also know that it scored 181 2/8 inches.
If we were killing bucks of that caliber, we would keep it a secret too.
4. Dennis Ross Buck – found dead
The fourth buck on our list was not actually killed by a hunter, but was found dead all the way back in 1951. Yet again from the panhandle, this Taylor County buck grossed 185 3/8 inches.
3. Henry Brinson Buck
The Henry Brinson buck from 1959 is not only number 3 on our list, but is also one of only two Florida bucks to make the Boone & Crockett record book (the largest deer ever killed in Florida was still in velvet and therefore ineligible).
While this deer suffers from a case of “no-photo” syndrome, this Jackson County monster net scored 186 inches. Maybe those Jackson County hunters have a good thing going.
2. Clark Durrance Buck
Even though Clark Durrance killed his Wakulla County buck all the way back in 1940, pictures of this 201 3/8-inch behemoth do exist. Although they were taken many years after this buck was harvested, this brute of a deer continues to impress.
Harvested with a shotgun just southwest of Tallahassee in the Florida panhandle, Durrance’s buck is the largest Boone & Crockett deer ever taken in Florida.
1. James Stovall Buck
James Stovall’s buck from 1999 was killed in velvet, making it ineligible for a spot in B&C’s all-time record book. Its story, however, makes it a legend.
In 1999 the state of Florida announced it would allow hunting on the Green Swamp West W.M.A. in Pasco County, just west of Orlando. The 38,000-acre wildlife management area had been off limits to hunting for 13 years, and Stovall knew he wanted to hunt there; so much so that he applied 14 times. Stovall actually saw the buck on one of many scouting trips to the area and knew that he would settle for no other deer.
On the day Stovall harvested this monster a tropical depression was forecasted to blow up through the area from the Gulf of Mexico; even so, the plan was to sit all day. After arriving an hour before the WMA even opened and passing on several shooter bucks throughout the day, Stovall finally caught sight of his target buck at 6:10 p.m, after the storm had blown through. After watching the deer for several minutes, Stovall thought he knew where the deer was headed… and it wasn’t towards him.
“I knew I needed to get in front of his path, and I knew exactly which path he was going to take” he recorded in a story for Buckmasters.
I held my bow in my teeth, stepped off my stand and slipped down the stick ladder. Upon reaching the ground, I glassed the deer once again. All was calm in his world, while mine was reaching an excitement level understood only by a bowhunter. I crawled in a semicircle about 150 yards to get in front of him, through palmettos and scrub oaks.
Stovall’s gamble paid off, and he arrowed the largest buck ever killed in the state of Florida; a 26-point, 206-inch velvet monster.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Stovall’s story is that state biologists estimated the bucks age at 3 1/2 years old. Imagine what it could’ve become had it gotten old?
While not a traditional big-buck hotspot, Florida has certainly produced many noteworthy trophies throughout the years. Could big bucks be on the rise in the sunshine state?
All images, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission