Fifteen-year-old Dylan Meyer from Zeeland bagged a 20-point nontypical in Ottawa County on September 10, the second day of the 2023 youth deer hunt, which is now the state record in the youth category for nontypicals. The huge set of antlers has a gross score of 211 6/8 and a net score of 206 1/8, according to Commemorative Bucks of Michigan measurer Allen Wilde.
The previous number one nontypical in the youth category was a 29-pointer that Michael Derosa shot on his first morning ever of deer hunting in Van Buren County during the 1989 firearms season. Those antlers netted 199 3/8.
The big nontypical that Meyer bagged was one of eight bucks that spent all summer taking advantage of a food plot the Meyers planted, according to Dylan’s father, Dave. They used game cameras to monitor the development of the bucks’ antlers, especially the biggest one. The family also spent time watching the bucks from a safe distance when they could.
“I pulled my trail camera for a while,” Dave commented. “The big buck walked right up to the camera to look at it. I was concerned it might spook him. I didn’t want to blow what we had going and cause him to move. When he continued to hang around, we put the camera back up.”
The youth deer hunt started on September 9 this year. As that date approached, the big nontypical’s antlers were still in velvet.
“I was hoping that Dylan could get the buck before he shed his velvet,” Dave said, “but that didn’t happen. He lost his velvet the day before my son got him. The Monday before the season started was the last time we got a picture of him.
“Dylan hunted all day Saturday (September 9), hoping to see the big nontypical, but he never saw him. Five minutes before the end of shooting time, an 8-point showed up that had been hanging around with the bigger buck. We were expecting the nontypical to show up any minute, but he was a no-show.”
A 6-point was with the 8, and Dylan wisely passed up both bucks. He had his sights set on shooting the big one.
“On Saturday night,” Dave continued, “we got photos of the buck with the velvet hanging from his antlers. The fact that he was getting ready to lose the velvet is probably why we didn’t get pictures of him for a number of days.”
Dylan was in position first thing Sunday morning, hoping the whitetail would make an appearance then. He was set up about 100 yards from the food plot on the ground, with the .450 Bushmaster rifle mounted on a Death Grip shooting rest to steady the rifle.
The buck showed up at about 7:00 a.m.
“I think I missed, Dylan said when he shot,” Dave commented, “because the buck took off right away and ran out of sight. But I heard the bullet hit. He made an excellent shot. The buck only went 30 yards.”
Even though most of the velvet was gone from the whitetail’s rack, pieces of dried velvet remained on the antlers when the deer was killed. Although the Meyers only had photos of the buck during 2023, their neighbors had captured the deer on camera in 2022 and they shared the photos of the whitetail with the Meyers after Dylan killed the buck.
“Based on the photos from 2022 that we got from our neighbors, I think the buck might have had 13 or 14 points last year and would have scored in the 140s to 150,” Dave said. “I was guessing his antlers were going to score in the mid-190s after looking at the pictures we got of him this year. My best buck was in the 160s.”
The Meyers were obviously pleasantly surprised when the antler measurements came up to more than 200 after the 60-day drying period. They didn’t have a clue the buck was of state-record proportions until after it was officially measured two months later. Dave said his son still doesn’t realize what he accomplished by shooting a buck with such a large set of antlers. He’s not likely to shoot anything bigger.
The buck proved to be 4 ½ years old and had a live weight of 210 pounds. Besides being a state record in the youth category, the buck is the highest-scoring nontypical from Ottawa County in state records by more than 30 inches.
Dave said that Dylan has been participating in the youth deer hunt since he was nine or ten years old. He got a 4-point that first year, and he’s gotten others since then. Last year, Dylan got a good 8-pointer with antlers that had an 18-inch spread during archery season.
“He called me with his cell phone and told me he was looking at a nice 10-pointer,” Dave explained. “I told him to put the phone down and shoot it, and he did. The deer actually only had 8 points.”
The big nontypical that Dylan got this year has 12 points on the right antler and eight on the left with a typical 10-point frame. The 10 nontypical points total 40 4/8 inches in length. The length of the brow tines is exceptional. The one on the right side taped 11 7/8 inches, and the one on the left was 8 7/8 inches long.
The inside spread of the antlers was 16 inches. The antlers were about 22 inches long. Antler bases were about five inches in circumference.