These bucks are only known by the sheds they left behind.
In whitetail hunting history, there are plenty of successful hunt stories that ended with a legendary whitetail deer. But for every huge deer that falls to a hunter, there are probably just as many that get away. Some of these bucks are total ghosts that are only known by the shed antlers they left behind.
For today's #WhitetailWednesday, here are seven bucks that left behind their antlers and vanished into thin air.
The Kansas King
These gorgeous 12-point deer sheds were found in the early 1990s. This buck may have rewritten whitetail hunting history had a hunter ever spotted it. There are actually two sets of sheds from this buck. The first scores 201 7/8, but it's the second set that garners everyone's attention. We can only speculate on the inside spread, but it is believed this buck would have netted a whopping 217 inches!
Had the buck met his demise by a hunter, Milo Hanson's typical world record would likely actually be number two in the record books. Unfortunately, the world will never know.
Yet another would-be typical world record, this gargantuan buck wandered Nebraska sometime in the late 1950s. For years, the sheds remained in relative obscurity in a farmer's home. That is, until he showed them to an Oklahoma hunting outfitter. The outfitter recognized the significance of the awesome antlers subsequently scored them.
It's estimated this monster buck would have grossed over 230 inches typical and would have likely netted somewhere in the 220s! That's mostly thanks to main beams of over 30 inches. What's crazy is the farmer who found them said there wasn't one, but THREE bucks of this caliber running around the area that year!
It's felt like Milo Hanson's world record has been untouchable the last 25 years, but one can only wonder how much more out of reach the record would feel had the General fallen to a hunter.
The Excelsior Urban Giant
This buck was actually pretty well-known to many of the locals who tracked his movements and antler growth with trail cameras near Excelsior, Minnesota, in 2011. Many shed hunters searched for the large antlers and eventually his sheds were tracked down on two separate days by the same hunter in February 2011. The two sides scored around 175 inches without factoring in an inside spread, which would probably put the buck in the 190-inch range.
But in 2012, it the buck seemingly vanished without a trace and no one seems to know for sure what happened to it. There are internet rumors, but no proof he was hit by a car in late winter. This giant, like many mature bucks, will probably remain one of the great mysteries of whitetail history.
The Knife-Handle Buck
This giant wandered Iowa sometime in the 1970s. Unfortunately, the sheds were picked up by a farmer who didn't really care about them and not someone who loves antler hunting. The farmer gave one side to a visiting trapper and the other side to a friend who had a hobby of making knife handles.
Yes, one of the largest sets of typical antlers ever was partially cut up for a knife! Fortunately, only part of it was destroyed and the leftover piece was later recovered in 2012 still in fairly good condition. A taxidermist was able to recreate the long-missing side from the piece.
Of course, this means no accurate numbers can be ascertained for this deer, but we can make a good guess. Estimates on this buck's score over 230 inches, meaning this buck would could potentially have shattered all current typical records if only the buck had met up with a lucky hunter during hunting season.
The Wensel Shed
Photos of this single massive shed have circulated the internet for years now. You wouldn't have to be a shed hunting master to spot something like this.
This buck had some good genes. This seven-point side scores over 100 inches all on its own! An Illinois giant grew this antler back in 1980, and as far as we know, the other side was never found, although it was rumored to be just as big.
Looking at this side, it's easy to imagine it probably would've been a world record had the deer been harvested. But, like many of the bucks on this list, it just seems to have vanished into the wild, never to be seen again. But, it'still igniting the imaginations of hunters all these years later.
Mystery Wisconsin World-Record 5-Pointer
Another buck shrouded in relative mystery and known by only one shed deer antler, this 5-point side is the stuff of shed hunting dreams. The antler was found by a Wisconsin farmer (Are you also noticing a pattern here with farmers picking up world-class antlers?) and then tacked to a barn, where it stayed for years before it was sold and brought out of obscurity.
The thing that grabs everyone's attention with this antler is the jaw-dropping 13-7/8-inch browtine. As far as we know, the other side was never found and the buck was never shot. This one side scores an eye-popping 98 6/8 inches. If the other side was anything like this one, we may have been talking about a 10-pointer that rivals the Jordan buck for king of the 10-pointers.
The Minnesota Monarch
This buck puzzled hunters for years in Minnesota, mainly because no one could find the deer before late winter. One landowner found several sets of sheds, as he noticed the deer only showed up on his property in February.
In 1990, the buck's antlers scored 310 inches non-typical. Keep in mind, that was before calculating in the inside spread which can only be guessed. It's very likely this buck would have been a world record for a hunter-killed whitetail at the very least.
But the following year, the Monarch didn't return. Instead, he vanished into Minnesota hunting legend, and hunters in the area were likely left wondering what could've been.