December 13, 2022
Check out hunting websites, magazines and social media and it seems like big bucks are seemingly everywhere. Thanks to the growth in hunters managing their land and leases for quality deer, the explosion of large-racked bucks in regions like the Midwest and world-class outfitters across the country specializing in guided hunts for mature whitetails, it feels like there are more giants falling to stick and string than ever before!
If you love big bucks — and who doesn’t? — here are the tales behind five Boone and Crockett-caliber bucks taken by bowhunters in 2021. From a DIY, public-land bowhunter who tied his tag to a 200 incher, to an Indiana resident who harvested one of the largest typicals ever taken in North America, each one is an exceptional story.
We hope you enjoy reading these, and, more importantly, we hope they get you stoked for many seasons to come!
Top U.S. Typical Ever! — Dustin Huff, Indiana
When you talk about 2021’s biggest bucks, the conversation has to start with the huge 12-pointer harvested by Dustin Huff last November. That’s because Huff’s deer is not only the new Indiana state record typical buck, it’s also the largest typical ever taken in the U.S. — by either firearm or bow!
A singer-songwriter and musician, Huff spends a good portion of his year travelling and performing, but his weekdays in the fall are set aside for another of his passions, deer hunting. From late October into November, you can find the southeastern Indiana resident perched in a treestand on the same 185-acre farm he and his dad have been hunting for years.
Last fall, Huff’s season got off to a quiet start, with only a few does and smaller bucks showing themselves the first several times he was out. Although he took a doe on Halloween while hunting with his nephew Easton (who also took a 5-pointer that day), Huff simply wasn’t seeing much. So, instead of hunting the three set stands he has on the property, he decided to mix things up by getting out his old climbing stand and exploring other parts of the farm.
“I just decided to start going on different parts of the property that I hadn’t hunted in 5 or 6 years,” Huff said. “When I was in high school, I’d hit these spots a little differently, but over time the undergrowth has grown up or logs have [fallen] over our four-wheeler trails, so I just hadn’t really been back there.”
On Nov. 4, Huff was returning to the woods following a quiet morning hunt. He settled into his climber around 3 or 3:30 p.m. and once again several hours passed without a sighting. Shortly after sunset, however, everything turned around!
“I’ve got maybe 20 minutes left of shooting light, and I pull my phone out to text my dad,” Huff said. “Right as I pull my phone out, I look to the left and at 70 yards, there he is.
“All I saw was how wide he was. He was facing toward me when I first saw him. When he put his head up, that’s when I knew this was the biggest deer I’d ever seen, on YouTube videos, anything. I just knew it was a monster deer.”
What happened next is the scenario that most bowhunters dream of, with the buck making a beeline toward Huff’s location.
“From when I saw him to being able to put an arrow through, it was two minutes, maybe,” Huff recalled. “So, I didn’t get a range finding. I just guessed — I was guessing 40 yards. He was coming up the ridge (and) I whistled at him once. I couldn’t shoot him on the first whistle — I had to let him take one more step.” Huff then whistled a second time, stopping the big buck in its tracks. A quick shot from his Stryker crossbow sent the Rage-tipped bolt on its way, with the deer only traveling a short distance before expiring.
“He ran about 50-60 yards straight west and I got to see him go down,” Huff said. “It was awesome.”
After watching the deer topple over, Huff called his girlfriend, followed by his dad, the property owner and others. Soon, he was joined in the woods by a small group of family and friends, all of whom were shocked at what lay on the ground in front of them.
“There were six guys that helped me drag the deer out,” Huff said. “Once we all got up to it, we were all just looking around like what is this? And we weren’t even thinking 200 (inches); we were just thinking 180. I was thinking maybe 185 was the highest (it would score) because the biggest deer taken on the property was a 153-inch deer that my dad killed 12 years prior.”
According to Huff, the buck weighed 230 pounds field dressed, with an estimated live weight of more than 300 pounds. The deer’s rack had an inside spread of 21½ inches and featured solid mass from top to bottom.
“His main beams’ circumference was almost at 7 inches all the way through,” said Huff, whose previous largest whitetail was a 134-inch buck taken in 2020. “His G2s (and) G3s are 13 inches.”
Following the mandatory, 60-day drying period, Huff’s buck was officially scored at 211 4/8 by Boone and Crockett Club, making it the largest typical ever killed in Indiana and placing it at No. 2 in the all-time Boone and Crockett records, second only to the legendary Milo Hanson buck (213⅝ inches) taken in Saskatchewan in 1992.
So, now that he has one of the largest bucks ever taken by a hunter, what’s next for Huff? He says he’ll be out in the woods this fall, taking the first nice deer that comes his way. As always, he’ll also use time in the tree to decompress from the many hours he spends on the road.
“That’s where I write songs; that’s where I find my peace,” he said. “I’ll sit and write a song or two in a week, just sitting in a deer stand waiting for a deer to come by. I just love it.”
Check in with bowhuntingmag.com again from now until Christmas, as we showcase more of 2021's top bow-killed bucks.