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What Will it Take to Beat the World-Record Whitetails?

Brow Tines and Backstrap

What Will it Take to Beat the World-Record Whitetails?

Posted 2024-05-30  by  Josh Honeycutt

Hunters continue to set many new state marks, so why do the world records keep standing?

Almost every year, hunters kill one or more state-record whitetails. But the world-record bucks continue holding strong. Why is the former so easy to fold but the latter so stout? Why aren’t the word-record typical and nontypical whitetails being topped?

Here’s what you should know. But first, some backstory.

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The word-record typical and nontypical bucks have stood since 1992 and 1981, respectively. Will one or both fall this season? Image by Honeycutt Creative

The World Record Typical Whitetail

The world-record typical whitetail has held for almost 32 years. Harvested by Milo Hanson, this renowned deer fell Nov. 23, 1992. It started when Hanson and a friend drove to meet two other hunters. When they arrived, the other party members said they’d spotted a huge whitetail disappear into a willow run, and it hadn’t run out yet.

The crew planned a deer drive. Rene Igini followed the buck’s tracks. Hanson, John Yaroshko and Walter Meger posted up at escape routes. Eventually, the buck ran out, and Hanson and Yaroshko shot at the deer. Both missed, and it disappeared into another willow run.

The hunting party moved up again, and when the buck ran out, Hanson’s shot connected. The deer fell but got back up and disappeared into a stand of aspens. Hanson pushed ahead and spotted the deer standing below him. He fired two more shots and finished off the buck. Hanson’s world-record deer scored 213-5/8 inches.

The World Record Nontypical Whitetail

The world-record nontypical whitetail has stood more than 40 years. On Nov. 15, 1981, David Beckman shot a buck. He called nearby conservation officer Michael Helland to check in and seal the deer (which saved him a trip to the check station).

After talking and departing, Beckman and Helland drove off, and Beckman spotted a huge dead buck off the side of road. It was on private land, so he couldn’t retrieve the deer. He again called Helland, who received permission to recover the carcass. Thus, the world record nontypical whitetail was discovered — picked up off the side of the highway.

What happened to the deer remains unknown. No bullet wounds were found. No hunters came forward about the buck. Examination of the buck’s teeth indicated it was 5-½ years old. It scores 333-7/8 inches and is currently owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation.


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Dustin Huff’s big typical is the Indiana state-record typical whitetail. Image courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club

Why State Record Deer Keep Falling

Hunters continue to top state whitetail records. Several factors contribute to this trend.

“This is due to far more deer living to mature age classes than in the past, and more people managing habitat to provide enhanced food and cover for deer,” said Kip Adams, chief conservation officer for the National Deer Association. “For example, during the 2022-23 deer season, 42% of all harvested antlered bucks were at least 3-½ years old. Only 26% were 1-½ years old. In general, yearling bucks only attain 15 to 25% of their antler growth potential, while 2-½-year-olds reach 25 to 50%, 3-½-year-olds reach 50 to 75%, 4-½-year-olds reach 75 to 90%, and 5-½-plus-year-olds reach 100%.

“Since more bucks are reaching the older age classes, they’re able to express more of their antler growth potential. On the habitat side, deer hunters in the Southeast alone spend over $183 million annually on wildlife plantings (food plots, fruit trees and more). Add in the millions of acres of forest and early successional vegetation management, and you have a lot more high-quality food on the landscape for those mature bucks to eat.”

Why the World Record Whitetails Keep Standing

Despite that, the world-record typical and nontypical whitetails haven’t been beaten. Why?

“I genuinely thought the typical world record would have been broken about five years ago,” Adams said. “I think the reason is because the current records are so darn big. It’s not like they were or are just a little larger than most state records — they’re absolutely huge.”

A few years ago, Adams saw Hanson’s buck in person. He noted it’s far larger than photos make it seem. “I was blown away when I put my hands on it,” he said.

Other factors might contribute. Is it possible the whitetail scoring system makes it exponentially more difficult for a buck to reach the top end? Or is it simply too difficult for a deer to get that big (without the added difficulty of “performing” in the scoring system)? Both are true.

“It’s partly due to the scoring procedures,” Adams said. “When the B&C system was developed, it favored symmetry in the typical category. That has nothing to do with any favorable traits to whitetails, and some whitetails have been shot that gross more inches than the current world record, but they aren’t recognized as such because the B&C scoring system includes the subjective symmetry trait.”

Perhaps the simplest and truest reason for such longstanding world records?

“I can’t speak for every state, but perhaps folks have forgotten that you can’t have record harvests and record antlers at the same time,” said Michael Tonkovich, deer program administrator for the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife. “Two-thirds of our 88 counties have posted record buck harvests in the last three years. Ohio hunters enjoy a 45% success rate and continue to produce an older-aged buck harvest. You can’t enjoy these kind of stats and expect to set world records. In short, my guess is that a big part of the reason why world records are not being challenged is that the deer are simply not there.”

Given the modern age of trail cameras, advanced scouting techniques, and intense deer management, it remains shocking that the world-record typical and nontypical bucks have stood for almost 32 and 43 years, respectively. It will take special whitetails that meet critical requirements to usurp the kings of whitetail world.


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