47 Point Buck Breaks World Record!

There’s a certain mystique associated with the whitetail, and for many hunters it outweighs that of any other game animal. The species has demanded the attention, admiration and infatuation of millions of people across the continent for centuries. From providing natives and early settlers with food to offering modern sportsmen both venison and recreation, the whitetail has interwoven human history with its own.

Stephen Tucker’s 2016 buck from Sumner County could be certified as the biggest hunter-taken whitetail in the world. The 47-point rack’s unofficial net Boone & Crockett “green” score was an astounding 308 3/8. Photo by Chad Meridieth

Since the early days, North America’s most recognizable and pursued big-game animal has only grown in popularity. So quite naturally, the elite bucks that have rewritten the record books hold special places in the halls of hunting history. Their stories deserve to be told. And so it is with northern Tennessee’s Stephen Tucker buck, which just emerged as a contender for the coveted title of world record among hunter-taken whitetails.

Stephen started hunting at a young age. In fact, he remembers with clarity harvesting a 6-pointer on his first deer hunt, when he was 10 years old. Since then, his passion for the outdoors has expanded to include not only deer but also waterfowl, turkeys and other game animals. Until Nov. 7, 2016, though, he’d never harvested a buck of giant status. Needless to say, that’s now changed. As this issue goes to press, the buck awaits official entry scoring, which was scheduled to take place on Jan. 9, 2017.

Anticipation of those results runs high, for if the buck’s unofficial “green” score of 308 3/8 net non-typical holds up, he’ll tentatively be the world’s biggest wild whitetail ever harvested by a hunter. Here follows his unlikely story.

Giant in the Corn Field
Stephen’s story begins in a dusty tractor and grain cart leading a roaring combine down endless rows of Tennessee corn. On that September day, 26-year-old Stephen was driving the tractor back to the farm, having just finished a day’s work. As he neared the farm, Stephen’s phone rang out. Stephen saw it was his uncle, Steve, who was driving the combine directly behind him. None the wiser as to what he was about to hear, Stephen answered.

After spotting the great non-typical while working on his family’s farm lease last September, Stephen set up trail cameras on the property. The buck soon paid them a visit. Photos courtesy of Stephen Tucker

“Look at this deer! You have to stop and look at this deer!” Steve cried.

Startled by the excitement in his uncle’s voice, Stephen started to swing the tractor to the right for a look at the deer.

“No! No!” Steve advised over the phone. “Just keep going straight out of the field. The buck is headed up the drain. You’ll see him. He’s going to come out right in front of you.”

Sure enough, seconds later Stephen spotted the magnificent non-typical.

“I stopped, and when the buck came out it was like looking through tunnel vision,” says Stephen. “He stopped for about 15 seconds, and I just couldn’t really comprehend all the points on his rack. I was blown away. He was tall and had stuff going everywhere.”

Having been totally unaware of the monster buck prior to spotting him that day, Stephen was especially shocked by the experience. He’d never even hunted that particular side of the farm. But now, taken aback by the appearance of the giant whitetail just three days before the archery opener, the hunter knew he’d need to get a plan together fast.

“I had no clue the deer was there until we started shelling corn that day,” says Stephen. “As soon as I’d seen him, I went and borrowed my brother-in-law, Morris’s, trail camera. I bought myself one, as well.”

In hopes of getting trail camera photos of the giant non-typical, Stephen put both of the cameras in locations he hoped the buck would frequent. Not long afterwards, he was looking at photos of a buck he knew would change his life.

“I put both of the cameras out right away,” says Stephen. “I immediately started getting pictures of him, but mostly at night. I’d get five days straight of only nighttime photos, and then, boom, he’d show up out of nowhere at 7:30 a.m. Every five or six days, roughly, he’d show up during daylight.”

Hunting Something Huge
Little could Stephen have imagined he’d discover a 300-class whitetail living on a 50-acre tract his family has leased for the last 40 years, in a state that never had yielded a deer near that caliber. But when the young farmer did come to this realization, he knew he’d need to hunt wisely to kill the buck.

Sumner County, Tennessee

The first decision to make was whether or not to pursue the deer during archery season. Having bowhunted some over the years, but never for a known giant, Stephen was hesitant to push his luck. Not feeling totally confident in his chances of harvesting the deer with a bow, he elected to play it safe.

“I bowhunted for the buck only twice, but I wasn’t hunting even close to where my cameras were,” says Stephen. “I chose to hunt him with my crossbow, but I was so scared I was going to run him out of there. After those two trips, I decided to wait until muzzleloader season (opening Nov. 5).”

It’s hard to argue with Stephen’s logic. Knowing it would take a special kind of resolve to remain calm and collected when faced with an opportunity at a buck of this caliber, Stephen made the ethical call and awaited a chance at the buck during muzzleloader season. Not often is a hunter put in a position to decide whether to hunt or wait for a world-class buck, but Stephen felt his decision was in the best interest of the buck.

“A lot of people gave me grief for not hunting the buck during bow season,” he explains. “People couldn’t comprehend waiting on a deer like this. But I just didn’t feel confident in harvesting him with a bow, so I decided to wait. I was really hoping that the rut would bring him out more consistently during the daytime, where I’d have a better chance.”

Electing to forgo any future crossbow hunts for the giant, Stephen could only hope he’d stay close to the farm. During early bow season Stephen wasn’t sure to what extent neighboring farmers were hunting, but he suspected the buck had garnered some attention.

“At the time, I didn’t know if I was the only person who knew about the buck,” says Stephen. “Later, I came to find out that several neighboring farmers had trail camera photos of him. Someone had actually posted a picture of the buck on Facebook, and another guy who was hunting the deer called him immediately to tell him to remove the photo so no one else was aware of the buck.

“There are five or six houses down the road with farms behind them, and some of those fellas were hunting for him,” Stephen continues. “They said early in the year the buck was crossing the road onto our farm, and once we cut the corn he pretty much stayed on our side.”

The 50-acre tract on which Stephen would hunt the buck, and where neighbors had spotted him, had roughly 30 acres of corn, with the remainder a dense thicket. The thicket proved to be a popular haunt for the massive buck, as Stephen regularly got trail cameras photos of him traveling through the area. Stephen felt confident that the buck was living in the thicket, especially since the cut corn field seemed to be holding a good concentration of does. With muzzleloader season fast approaching, Stephen had high hopes for opening weekend.

Closing the Distance
It’s safe to say that when opening day arrived, no other Tennessee hunter was as excited or hopeful as Stephen was. With his family’s full support…

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