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200 inchers?

[email protected]

Active Member
In my Illinois county, I know most of the landowners and locals that are serious deer managers. I do not know of 1 single 200" buck killed in the entire county last season. I know of 2 190" bucks but no 200s last year. This is West Central Illinois. I would think this mirrors most counties throughout the United States.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
This is fun to think about, and something I have thought about a lot. And not just 200+, but 180/190 inch deer.


I think there is more than most think. Just go to the deer classic in the winter and you will see a handful. The first couple years I followed Trophy Bucks of Iowa on facebook I was stunned how many big deer are killed, that was eye opening to me. Look at the shed contest and you can see there are a bunch that didn't get killed. And what you see at the deer classic is a small percentage of what is killed/found. More are not killed/found than are I would think. Look at the counties listed at the classic and for the most part they are all central/south central Iowa. You dont see to many people driving 2+ hours to bring whatever to the classic, shoot coming from northeast Iowa its like a 4 hour drive just to go to the classic. What I'm saying is there is quite a few at the classic, that for the most part or only representing the central part of the state and that is only what people bring in and that many from other parts of the state dont bother going because its to far.

Overall, still super rare though in a general sense. There are counties that I bet dont have a single one (north central/northwest areas of the state. Go on google maps satellite and type in Grundy county iowa, I wonder if there has ever been a 200. That county is nothing but corn/beans, nothing. Then places like Allamakee/Winnishiek/Clayton or Ringgold/Decatur/Wayne or Washington/Jefferson I bet there could 15+ in each of those counties, lots of cover/rough terrain etc.

I've shed hunted hard for 13 winters now. Every year I pick up a couple 70+ sheds. I have a few that are around 80 give or take an inch or two and until just two years ago that was it until I finally found a 100 inch on the dot side. Granted I am not shed hunting larger deer managed properties, but with the amount of miles I have walked and time put into it and even going into no hunting parks etc Im surprised I haven't found a few more 80-90 inch sides. I mean I put a lot of time/miles into it! This leads me to believe it is very very property/area specific and just because you are in what one would think is a great county doesn't mean much, its a narrower scope than that.

I've had a hunch parts of southwest IA like Adams/Union county area are likely really good and there are a lot of giants. It seems much more rural, lots of cover, but rarely does that part of the state get any hype. Loess Hills region all the way from MO to Sioux City doesn't get much notoriety either. Monona is known to be a good one. Southwest & Loess Hills seem to be much more rural and big farm country, but also have lots of cover. I could be totally off, but I just feel like there are fewer hunters in those parts and big farmers/land owners(not necessarily deer minded people) and that there are more big deer out there than many think and may have less pressure than central and southeast IA. One thing for sure is you cannot go off of B&C entries, I bet not even half of B&C deer are entered.



Also, I have always envisioned areas that may look similar to this (map below) that are not near any big towns etc as possibly being a hidden gem. This is just a random square mile section out away from any town/bigger town. The whole region looks like this for miles. It doesn't necessarily scream deer hunting or big deer, but there is enough cover to hold a good huntable # of deer. I could see sections like this holding a giant. If there is no/very limited pressure in the general area. Get a farmer or two that farm big, but just are not into hunting, may not have any family or neighbors that area and no one ever knocking on their door because they are out away or maybe one of two people do hunt it, but just aren't that into it or play the wind right or only go a handful of times/shoot a doe and call it good etc and I think areas like this are hidden gems. You can scroll around on google maps and not see any blinds or food plots for miles, but enough wooded drainages/fencelines/overgrown pastures/small blocks timber/topography that I would bet money there is a giant or two within the general area. What do you think about areas like this I am describing?

1662041920507.png
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
The odds of a 200 are much higher in Iowa, than my home state of Minnesota. That being said on occasion a real brute of a buck is shot in my area.

Otter Tail County in MN had a stretch of really big ones shot . Mainly swamp bucks that are paranoid and hang out in Tamarack swamps and nasty willow thickets . In those areas you can have a full section or 2 or 3 sections of nothing but cover, no roads, homes, etc..
 

Muskrat24

Well-Known Member
That's a good question. According to entries from Iowa into B&C, from 2016 to 2020 I counted about 60 that would have grossed 200. So lets say for arguments sake only 20% get entered (low IMO), that would make 60 200 inch deer/yr die in Iowa. My guess would be closer to 30, maybe even less. So ya, needle in a haystack.
I looked through the Iowa harvest numbers in a bar chart and over the past 25 years it would appear an average of AROUND 50,000 bucks are killed in Iowa per year. 12 per year entered on average over past five years. Throw the number you want in for % that get entered but under 1% of bucks get to 200”. I’m saying far less. Take that times the bucks in a given area. IMO not many. Some managed areas changes completely. And managed areas are those that are big enough to let deer get to their full potential. I know of more 6+ year olds that didn’t break 170” than those that did let alone 200”. I am in a good area but NOT heavily managed. Too each there own but too many high genetic deer get shot as 150”+ 4yo.
 

letemgrow

PMA Member
Can't say I've ever seen one for certain. There have been some over 170" I've seen on the hoof that were killed.

I'd say most of the bucks that would hit 200" are killed as 2-3 year olds in my area. I've seen some GIANT young bucks that were killed.
 

letemgrow

PMA Member
Here’s a pic of a 3 year old for example that may have had the genetics. I had his shed at 2 and he was a regular on stand and cam…which is another sure sign of a younger buck.

A neighbor shot him during rifle season. I know someone on here had a pic of a buck that looked identical to this one from Wayne County, IA, which is just north of me. That buck had the double row of tines on his right side tho instead of the left like this one.

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Daver

PMA Member
I looked through the Iowa harvest numbers in a bar chart and over the past 25 years it would appear an average of AROUND 50,000 bucks are killed in Iowa per year. 12 per year entered on average over past five years. Throw the number you want in for % that get entered but under 1% of bucks get to 200”. I’m saying far less. Take that times the bucks in a given area. IMO not many. Some managed areas changes completely. And managed areas are those that are big enough to let deer get to their full potential. I know of more 6+ year olds that didn’t break 170” than those that did let alone 200”. I am in a good area but NOT heavily managed. Too each there own but too many high genetic deer get shot as 150”+ 4yo.

I will say that I have done this ^^ and now, looking back, wished that I hadn't. I for sure know of other situations where other hunters have done the same. So I am not intending to "talk down" to anyone on this subject, for I am guilty too. :) Now then, I agree with the notion that a properly managed area changes things DRAMATICALLY. Any area where a good percentage of the bucks can get to 6+ years old can produce super giants here in our state AND there are some areas where this is the norm due to self imposed restrictions. Combine that age structure with the generally available good to excellent nutrition, decent genetics and it may not be a common occurrence to have a 200" around, but it isn't rare either.

Just another angle for this conversation...for many years, and until this year, we have been pretty good about not shooting bucks until they are 5, not perfect, but pretty good. :) In the last year though I have changed my thinking in this area. Starting this hunting season, I will look to purposely take out 3 or 4 year olds that are "stuck" in the 130's-140's AND also, if I can manage myself well enough :), NOT shoot 170"ish 5 year olds.

I do agree that many/most 6+ year old's will top out around 160", which is still a great, great buck IMO. BUT...if you really want to give yourself a chance at a legit 200"...you CANNOT shoot the relatively few high, high potential bucks when they are 3 or 4...or probably even 5. The 150"+ 3 year olds ARE the potential 200"ers. Shoot those and yes, you will "never" have a 200".

Looking back, I believe we have erred, somewhat at least, by passing ALL bucks until they are 5. This has "allowed" some bucks to live on and "take up space" for a couple more years'ish and realistically, their top end is going to be in the 150"-160" range. Again, still a great beast...but that buck is never going to get to 200", no matter how many years you give him. (It is my experience that there are so few, as to be none that I can remember, examples of a given, known buck "blowing up" from one year to the next in the say 30-40+ inches range. I sometimes hear about these bucks from others...but we just don't see it on our place.)

The true giant, giants that we have seen...we knew when they were 3, or really even 2, that they were going to be special in the antler category. THOSE are the ones that you have to let live AND also keep the other bullies trimmed down too. Well...at least that is what I think for now. :)
 

YtailFreak

Member
So basically what you're all saying, is that your odds of killing a 200 are better in a non-managed area?

I agree
 

Hair&Scales

Member
More ideas for thought, I believe there are currently deer on peoples walls in their house that they have never had scored nor care to that would break state records and national records.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Great thoughts above. Very interesting!!!
SIDE THOUGHTS…. IMO- the least amount of 200” bucks will be in outfitted areas. Areas where guys pay & are churned through all season. Recipe for the best 3-4 year olds to get shot. & even some premo 2’s. If u want 200’s (I do!! ;) ) - I’d much rather have un-managed land vs outfitters. I’d take a huge group of shotgun hunters over outfitters. I honestly am torn whether I’d rather have public hunting or outfitting next to my farm. Outfitting is in top 3 reasons IL gets destroyed. Maybe #1 in a way. If outfitting stopped, IL would turn out way way way more 200” deer & old deer period.

The biggest bucks I’ve ever known of have came from within 30 mins of city - Des Moines in my example. Few parcels with “no hunting” & “regular every day hunters” all over in between. My buddies had a 240” & a 270” deer a few years ago in this area. About 10 miles apart. Small parcels. Both died of EHD & both recovered/found. Along with a 215” that was shot almost smack dab between them. & a few others that were at 200”. I can think of 6 within a 20 mile radius that year - that I know of. That’s one year in an Un-managed area with regular local hunters.
When I know a group of guys hunting a 200” deer & they get “serious about it”…. This is over 20 years…. I’m gonna GUESS a someone gets that deer <50% of the time. Countless bucks I know of that never got shot & died of old age. Lots of sheds found. & clearly some that maybe got poached or someone just never told anyone. But a lot that never get shot. The deer in PRESSURED AREAS that reach 200”…. They usually have the personality of being very cautious, not day walkers, timid, find places with no human intrusion, etc. Those type of deer almost fit in category of unkillable. Or really hard to kill. I know there’s no such thing as unkillable but there’s no doubt, IMO- there’s some genius smart deer in pressured areas that are 6-8 years old that 95% of hunters out there have no real shot at killing.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
The biggest bucks I’ve ever known of have came from within 30 mins of city - Des Moines in my example. Few parcels with “no hunting” & “regular every day hunters” all over in between. My buddies had a 240” & a 270” deer a few years ago in this area. About 10 miles apart. Small parcels. Both died of EHD & both recovered/found. Along with a 215” that was shot almost smack dab between them. & a few others that were at 200”. I can think of 6 within a 20 mile radius that year - that I know of. That’s one year in an Un-managed area with regular local hunters.

Got any pics of these giants found dead? :)
 

meyeri

PMA Member
I assume that somewhere between 30-50 percent of 200 inchers never make it to social media, even fewer make it to the books or shows like the classic. I assume with the growing popularity of the bow hunting league and quest type competitions that we'll be seeing more deer than previously shared.

I think 3-6 200" deer per county would be a pretty safe estimate for central to southern Iowa. EHD can wreck those numbers though.

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Bucksnbears

Well-Known Member
Mn aint no slouch
I missed (bow) the Barry Peterson buck the night before he killed it.
196 typ I think?
I hit a 192" typ 6x6 across the top of the neck. Just a grazing shot.
Found it dead in the spring, hit by a car I assume?
Missed an easy but running shot at a non typ that the shed scored 209 with a 17" spread credit.

Missed 7, yes 7,,.standing shots at a buck with a 20 Guage, all shots were under 50 yards.
It was my girlfriend's gun and she was bitching about missing deer.
I took it with ,e to prove her wrong that there was something wrong with it as it 3as shooting decent groups at 50 yards.
The buck I missed that day was a bona-fide 220"+ buck.
He was so rutted up he didn't even care I was shooting at him even though I was on the ground and he seen me.
Found out (somehow) the barrel nut was super loose and the barrel was just flopping.
I had that gun swung and ready to smash it to pieces but didn't.
Tales of woe.
 

newfarmer

Member
The county I am in up in North Central I’m only aware of 2 true 200” deer killed here. One of them a family member shot a half mile from my farm. The other one came a mile from my farm. They were however 30 years ago and 15 years ago. I don’t believe this county pry has more than 1 ever walking here- I would say only 3-7 at most will even tickle the 170 mark any year.
A lot of guys say they shoot booners, then when you see a picture you quickly realize he’s a mass 140- and they don’t know how to score.
I hunted a lot in Allamakee, I believe there are plenty of big deer in the north half, less in the south of the county (where I hunt of course) after shed buck season, numbers really dwindled for true large deer.
I hunted Montgomery County, saw a 195 net the night before it was shot- he just didn’t come close enough. After the guy killed that deer he sold the farm to an outfitter and the hunting quickly went into the garbage. I used to get monsters all over there and Adams county.
I wish I could say I had a pile of booners on the wall- but I sure don’t. I hunt one of those bad counties and when I did travel, I didn’t put in the true required time for the monsters. I’m getting better now- would love to at least add a few 160s to my wall soon, but my goals are mule deer and elk for the next few years.
Reading through this post though gives me a lot of hope- so keep the thread going!
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I agree with people saying most bucks never get entered into the record bucks. I never enter mine and really prefer no one knows except close friends. It seems like a common theme in this thread to kill giants is to stay away from outfitters and pass the younger bucks. If you look at what most outfitters are killing, it's the 3 year old bucks. Not to mention all the bucks they wound and never find. I'm pretty convinced at this point that 95% of hunters out there will not pass a good genetic 3 year old. So that means you need to try and hunt near likeminded hunters if you are after true giants. That is almost an impossible task finding land surrounded by likeminded hunters. Too bad we cannot have a whole county with guys managing for top end, old bucks. Could you imagine what that county in Iowa would produce...
 

CurtisWalker

Moderator
I think the trail camera argument is hilarious. “If there are 200” deer more people would have pics of them” almost every mature buck I saw last year made big circles around the cameras. They went completely out of their way to avoid the camera. My buddy saw the same behavior on a farm 5 miles away. I don’t know what it is but they can definitely pick up on something. Those cameras had been out for months too. It’s not like they were fresh with human scent. So IMO the trail camera pic argument can go out the window. The entry and contest argument is also trash. Just because they aren’t being entered doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I have buddies who entered quest and chased 200” deer but ended up harvesting 150-170” deer. Really who is going to pass up 160” 5 year old deer if they are chasing a 200” on a permission farm or even public. I know for a fact the 160” deer would be getting an arrow 10/10 times.

I hunted a farm in Adams county for 3 years in a row each year had an encounter with a 200” deer each of those years. (Different bucks). 80 acre piece where no one would even think there’d be a deer. They know how to hide and get away from people. 200” deer are definitely more common than people think.

I’ve seen 5 deer that easily make 200” hunting subpar pieces in the 10 years I’ve deer hunted. Definitely way more out there than people think.


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letemgrow

PMA Member
I think the trail camera argument is hilarious. “If there are 200” deer more people would have pics of them” almost every mature buck I saw last year made big circles around the cameras. They went completely out of their way to avoid the camera. My buddy saw the same behavior on a farm 5 miles away.

I’ve seen 5 deer that easily make 200” hunting subpar pieces in the 10 years I’ve deer hunted. Definitely way more out there than people think.


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Agreed, they have such keen senses.

You’re lucky to get one pic of them in a lot of cases. This buck isn’t close to 200, but he proves it from the age standpoint. He’s not keen on that camera and it’s the only pic I have of him this entire year.

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