found whitetail bucks

5 Biggest Whitetail Bucks Found After They Died

These legendary bucks lived—and died—on their own terms.

Whitetail deer can grow to become absolutely incredible creatures. A mature buck is a thing of beauty; tall and thick with impressive antlers perched atop their head like a king's crown.

There are some world-class deer—the Milo Hanson buck, the Luke Brewster buck, and the Steven Tucker buck—that make history after meeting their maker through the hands of man. These bucks became world records after they were harvested during a hunt.

There is another classification of bucks, however, that also grew to magnificent statures but were never successfully hunted. Instead, these world-record dead heads were discovered sometime after death. These bucks outsmarted hunters their entire lives. They weren't taken out by the tip of an arrow or the smack of a bullet, but rather they stumbled into their last breath undefeated by the weapons of mankind.

Here, five of the biggest whitetail bucks ever found—not killed at a hunter's hand.

1. The Hole-in-the-Horn Buck

Found in 1940 just outside of Akron, Ohio, in Portage County, the Hole-in-the-Horn Buck is aptly named: On the buck's right antler, on a drop tine, there's a crisp, clear hole that goes straight through.

Whether or not it was a bullet hole has been the stuff of hunting camp debate for decades. Some argue that it came from being tangled in a wire fence near the railroad track the dead buck was discovered near. Others say it was drilled by a cranky bartender who was fed up with it hanging unevenly near his bar.

The Boone & Crockett record book lists the Hole-in-the-Horn Buck as the No. 2 nontypical deer of all time. Still, most in the outdoor world view it as the biggest buck ever because of its gigantic and massive rack: incredible width, enormous mass, and tines going everywhere. At a whopping 328-2/8 inches, the buck truly is "the" buck of a lifetime more than any other whitetail discussed—despite not having met its end from a hunter's aim.

2. The Missouri Monarch

found whitetail bucks

Buck Manager

Another famous deer, the Missouri Monach is the highest-scoring free-range buck of all time. That's right: The two most giant bucks ever didn't fall to the bullet or arrow of a hunter.

This mature Missouri buck, found in St. Louis County, Missouri in 1981 by hunter Dave Beckman, showcased some serious head gear. It totalled a staggering 333-7/8 inches with an inside spread of 25-1/8 inches, making it the most giant whitetail ever scored.

This demolished the score of the previous record, 286 inches from a buck in Texas, a record that had stood since 1892. With 89 years between those records and just over 40 years since, it doesn't seem likely that a deer will top its score anytime soon.

3. The Illinois Roadkill Buck

found whitetail bucks

Murphy's Art

If you've ever driven in the rural areas of the midwest, you know just how many deer bound in front of you across the roads at night. This particular Illinois deer didn't quite make it across, and it just so happened to be one of the largest-framed whitetails anyone had ever seen.

In November 1965, Illinois conservation officer Jim Twitchell picked up a road-killed deer in Randolph County, Illinois. According to Legendary Whitetails, Twitchell and the others who saw the deer could not believe the size of either the body or the rack. Both were enormous, with the buck weighing over 400 pounds and the rack boasting a 31-inch spread. Forever coined the Illinois Roadkill Buck, another giant fell victim to a vehicle's grill, as they often do. Many who saw this deer claimed it's the biggest deer they've ever seen.

Viewed as an 8-pointer because of the "abnormal" point, the Illinois Roadkill Buck gross scores at an absurd 202-6/8 inches but officially nets scores at 176-5/8. Let that sink in for a minute—what a deer.

4. The Heartbreaker Buck

found whitetail bucks

Iowa's Adam Jordison loved hunting for shed antlers as much as he did hunting for the deer who grow them. One spring in the early 2000s, he drove home from college to go shed hunting. Jordison found a stunning pair of nontypical sheds of the same deer but different years.

Over the next three years, he tried to locate and kill this buck but never got an opportunity. After hardly being unable to hunt any during the 2008 season, Jordison set out to scout his property in preparation for hunting the following week. While exploring, he couldn't believe what he saw. Jordison walked up on a deceased buck that was truly enormous.

Noticing he had something special, Jordison contacted his local Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) agent and asked what he should do. It was clear that the buck had been dead awhile, and it was later determined the buck had died of Blue Tongue, a common whitetail disease.

That following March, Jordison dragged the rack and skull to the Iowa Deer Classic, and the buck was scored at 272-3/8 inches and estimated to have been 6-1/2 years old. It was a true blue mature Iowa giant, and a score that would only fall behind the Missouri Monarch and Hole in Horn Buck.

After the story began spreading, people discovered that three different hunters had been chasing this once-in-a-lifetime majestic whitetail, and none of them were aware of the others—and that's how the Heartbreaker Buck got its name.

5. The Kansas Mystery 99 Buck

found whitetail bucks

Boone and Crockett Club

What is a big buck list without Kansas in it, anyway? Someone picked up this monster whitetail in Kansas in 1999, hence the name "99 Buck." But that name has a double significance, as this giant whitetail scored a whopping 199-2/8 typical inches.

The rest of the story of the buck in question is somewhat of a mystery—all we came across in our research was a picture, the score, and the fact that it is in the record books.

READ MORE: The Science Behind Deer Vision and How It Affects Hunters