These are some of the biggest illegally killed deer ever.
Make no mistake, when someone poaches an animal they are stealing natural wildlife resources shared by all of us. While any kind of poaching is bad, sometimes the poachers ruin things more than usual when they take a rare buck that is larger than normal.
Law abiding hunters were robbed of the chances at these 12 exceptional whitetails and mule deer due to the greed of poachers.
1. 230" Wyoming Mule Deer
Nathan Strong robbed Wyoming residents of the legal chance at this monster 230" inch non-typical mule deer in 2015. Fortunately for hunters and the deer, it was well-known to locals in Big Piney. So when the deer head suddenly showed up at a hunting expo in Salt Lake City, many recognized it and realized it was probably shot in violation of hunting laws.
It turns out it was. Strong eventually pleaded guilty to the crime was forced to pay over $9,000 in fines and restitution. But all the money in the world will never bring back the chance at this buck of a lifetime.
2. 198" Kansas 14-Pointer
Kansas should have had a new state record typical whitetail in 2011. But then David Kent came along. People started asking questions when he brought a 198-inch 14-pointer to a deer show in January 2012.
He claimed the deer came from the northeast part of the state. But it didn't take long for someone to recognize that wasn't true and pretty soon a trail camera picture emerged that showed the buck actually came from a more central location, Osage County.
This led to authorities pressing Kent on the story and he eventually confessed to poaching it. He was charged with eight crimes and given jail time and forced to pay over $9,000 in fines and restitution.
This wasn't Kent's first brush with the law. He was present, but wasn't charged when his brother Thomas Theron actually shot out of his truck and KILLED an 18-year-old hunter, Beau Arndt, five years earlier when he shot a rifle at what he thought was a flock of geese in a field. It was actually some decoys put out by Beau and his friends.
Theron got prison, but apparently that STILL wasn't enough to deter Kent from wildlife crime. Even worse, the 14 point buck was a rare perfect 7x7. It would have been among the high-scoring typical whitetails ever. The whole incident left a really bad taste in many a Kansas hunter's mouth.
3. Maryland 212-inch Whitetail
Joseph Bogdan had been pursuing a huge non-typical whitetail on his Maryland property for years. But the story came to abrupt and sad end in September 2016 when the deer was shot by his neighbor Ronald Wayne Roe.
It turns out Roe had trespassed onto Bogdan's private property to shoot the buck, which he lured in using bait. Roe tried to tell authorities he had shot the big buck on his own property. But the story quickly unraveled when a DNR officer back-tracked a blood trail from Bogdan's property to Roe's.
Roe's friends later threw him under the bus and confessed they had helped him drag the big buck over property lines. The sad thing is, the buck would have been a new state record using a crossbow had it been harvested legally.
4. One of the Biggest 8-Points Ever
Troy Alan Reinke robbed Minnesota hunters of one of the biggest 8-point bucks ever in 2009. Reinke was only eligible for an archery tag and told the DNR he'd taken the buck with his bow. But he had already taken a doe and another smaller buck, which he had failed to tag.
But when law enforcement determined wildlife law had been violated because the buck died by gunshot wound during closed firearms season, Reinke then claimed to have simply found the buck dead. He also claimed he didn't possess a firearm due to being on probation.
We'll probably never know for sure, but eventually Reinke pleaded guilty to illegal possession of the monster buck and lost his hunting privileges for five years. He also paid over $2,000 in restitution. The 8-point's awesome antlers were confiscated and it and four replicas are now used by the state in "Wall of Shame" locations to educate others on why poaching doesn't pay.
5. Hunting Season Weekends in Jail
The Grayson County, Texas district judge who handed down John Walker Drinnon's punishment wanted to make sure Drinnon stayed out of the woods by making him spend weekends in county jail for the next five years. That is one way to make sure he thinks about his wildlife crimes.
Much like the Kansas 14-point earlier in this story, Drinnon tried to pass the buck off as coming from somewhere else at first. He claimed he had taken the buck in Oklahoma. But someone had a game camera photo of the buck that actually revealed the wide-racked animal to be a Texas deer.
Drinnon will be on probation for five years and will have to cough up $18,000 in civil restitution and fines for illegally taking this 19-point, 200-inch buck.
6. Someone Always Knows About It
When it comes to big bucks, there is almost always someone who knows about them. Such was the case with a massive mule deer in Twin Falls, Idaho. The buck had become a local celebrity who was photographed frequently until Jacob Pool poached him in 2015.
Pool claimed he shot the buck because he needed the meat. But when he realized the deer was a local celebrity, he attempted to destroy the evidence and wasted all the meat.
But as is often the case with violators of hunting law, he was caught. The judge did not go easy on him. In addition to jail time and fines over $3,000, Pool's hunting privileges were also revoked for life. Unfortunately, we'll never know what this massive buck would have scored because the antlers were never recovered.
7. 278-inch Texas Monster
The buck Travis D. Johnson poached in 2017 might have been the second-biggest non-typical deer ever killed in the Lone Star State had it been taken legally. At 278 inches Boone and Crockett, the buck is world class in size, but will forever be tainted because of how it was killed.
Originally Johnson claimed to have shot the buck during legal hunting hours, but game wardens were suspicious of his story. A conversation with an adjoining landowner revealed a differing story about Johnson and the poacher finally confessed to not only shooting the buck after hours, but to having done it on property where he didn't have permission to hunt.
Johnson was ordered to pay a staggering $53,000 in civil restitution for the poaching of one of the biggest deer ever in Texas.
8. Illinois 36-Pointer
Another would-be state record, this one was passed all over as a legitimate harvest when it was shot by Christopher Kiernan in 2009. It even graced the pages of North American Whitetail magazine with a story written by Kiernan himself.
But it turns out Kiernan and his buddies had been trespassing and poaching deer on the private property of Material Service Corporation in Grundy County for years without permission. And they had poached several huge bucks there in the process including this 261-inch, 36-pointer.
Kiernan was hit with a bevy of charges including 11 for hunting without permission and 19 for unlawful possession of illegally taken deer. He was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution costs and lost his hunting privileges for two years.
9. The Dryden Buck
This animal was one of the first whitetail deer ever to go viral on the internet via social media. It was poached after legal shooting hours near Dryden, Ontario in November of 2003. Within hours of it being shot, it was circulated world-wide as being "a poached world record buck." It has also been claimed to be from a number of different states and provinces over the years as the photo is re-shared nearly every hunting season.
In truth, the buck came nowhere near Milo Hanson's world record for a typical whitetail. It is still a spectacular buck, with 18 antler points and a net score of 199 7/8.
Eventually Louisiana residents Gary Stroughter and Samuel Stroughter were charged in the killing of this buck. This deer's picture is still circulating social media as one of the most notable deer poaching cases ever.
10. Pennsylvania 14-Pointer
Scott Garner shot this massive 14-pointer during Pennsylvania's firearms deer season in December 2011. But there was a problem. The state has a one buck limit and Garner had already limited out with a 5-point shot in October.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission said he then tried to alter the hunting license he used on the 5-point before trying to re-use it. Garner apologized for his actions when interviewed by a local newspaper later. But hunters in Bainbridge, Pennsylvania probably weren't quick to forgive him for stealing away a legal chance at this 172-inch monster of a lifetime.
11. 197-inch Ohio Monster
This was yet another illegal kill exposed at a hunting show. Johnny Clay claimed to have shot this buck in Kentucky in 2009 while showing it at the Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo. Unknown to Clay, two Ohio hunters who had been following this buck's movements were also at the show.
They quickly alerted an Ohio Game Warden also in attendance and Clay confessed to taking the buck in a closed season without permission after being confronted with photo and video evidence the buck actually lived over 60 miles away in Ohio.
Clay was ordered to pay $23,572.05 in restitution and lost his hunting privileges in 41 states. Sadly, this buck was the largest typical buck shot in 2009 and one of the largest typicals in Ohio hunting history.
12. 200-inch Iowa Monster
Brett Cranston had to pay up $8,000 in fines after pleading guilty to the poaching of this massive Jefferson County, Iowa in 2016. The Iowa DNR said not only did Cranston trespass on private property to poach this buck, but he also followed it in his vehicle on back roads while continuing to fire at it.
Eventually the buck died in a cornfield, but you can't do something like that without attracting attention. Someone called in the DNR, who were able to quickly determine what happened.
This buck would have placed high in hunting record books, but instead Cranston found himself with a huge fine and his truck and shotgun confiscated.