January 01, 2013

Before you have read any of these words, you took in the incredible photograph accompanying this article and more than likely exclaimed, “Wow!” At least that has been the general response from the people once they see this picture.

This massive antlered buck was shot in southern Michigan’s Van Buren County during the firearm season. Fifty-four year old Keith Mann tagged this trophy buck on Saturday, November 24. Keith’s brother Kevin commented, “He’s (Keith) a hunting fool! We’ve had quite a rivalry on who can shoot the biggest buck. Well it’s over, he wins!”

Keith reports that he climbed into a 17 foot, homemade ladder stand at first light and came prepared to sit for the day. The veteran hunter sat in the woods, which provided him with a view of a large, cut cornfield. At 4 p.m. the first deer appeared at the far end of the field. Even at a long distance Mann could tell that it was a big buck. In fact his initial thought was, “Holy moly, that thing is still in velvet!”

As the buck got closer the anxious hunter realized that it wasn’t in velvet it was just that massive. Keith had both the pleasure and anxiety of watching this huge buck for an hour and fifteen minutes before it finally came into shooting range. When the deer entered the woods it was only 80 yards away but there were too many trees in the way for an ethical kill shot. Eventually the buck moved closer and provided a 60 yard broadside shot. Mann was hunting with a Remington 1187, 12 gauge topped with a Leupold Scope.

The Van Buren County 14-point beast has 7 inch circumferences, 20 1/2 inch inside spread, 25 inch main beams, 185+ gross…

Keith placed the crosshairs on the buck’s shoulder and pulled the trigger. Keith states, “After the shot, the buck ran head first into a hickory tree, it sounded like a car crash. It then got up and I took two more shots that both missed but he then fell to the ground.”

Mann’s first shot went through both shoulders and both lungs. Keith’s buck is a 14-point that green scores 185 6/8 gross Boone and Crockett points and its net score is 180 4/8. The inside spread is 20.5 inches.

Here lies the truly amazing part. The first three mass measurements on each antler are over seven inches! Ironically, the deer itself is a lightweight coming in with a dressed weight of 167 pounds. Kevin mentions that the antlers themselves probably weigh at least fifteen pounds putting the actual dressed weight of the deer at around 150 pounds.

Van Buren County has been outputting several world-class whitetails over the last decade. Mann shot his buck in close proximity to the Paw Paw River and in 2007, Bob Reits also shot a record book buck along the river that scored 205 Pope and Young non-typical points. In 2008, Tom Britenfeld shot a 15-point that nets 190 6/8 Boone and Crockett points and this buck is the current, state record, typical shot with a muzzleloader.

According to Mann, EHD hammered Van Buren County in 2011 and the population took a serious hit. Fortunately, this trophy deer survived and gave Keith a buck of a lifetime. Keith comments, “I am a wood cutter and I cut wood in the heat of the summer so that I can take off time to hunt in the fall. If given the choice of winning the lotto or having a bunch of time to hunt, I would pick hunting.”

Keith added, “When my brother Kevin saw my buck he commented that he went to Kansas this year in hopes of shooting a buck this big and here he is just a half mile from his house.” One reason that Kansas and Iowa produce so many good bucks is because of the nutrients in the soil. Van Buren County is known for having orchards and vineyards. Evidently the soil there is quite nutritious for developing monster whitetails as well. Proof is in the photo. Wow!