Imagine hunting in a place where a 180 deer is considered a decent buck, but not particularly noteworthy; where 200 is a realistic goal, achieved by several hunters every season, in a place where there are no high fences or ear tags. While the rest of the whitetail world measures bucks in inches, hunters from the Northeast prefer pounds. “You can’t eat antlers,” they say in a thick Downeast accent. The first question asked of anyone said to have killed a big one is, “What’d he weigh?” While they may not garner as much attention outside of the Northeast, heavyweight bucks here are the equivalent of a Boone & Crockett buck. As with big-racked whitetails, these scale-tippers are rare, and their relative value increases with size. What follows are some of the most impressive examples of big-bodied deer.
1. The Moore Buck
Nationwide, there is an elite informal group called the 200 Club. Admission requires that you harvest a deer scoring at least 200 inches. The Biggest Bucks in Maine Club also has a 200 minimum, measured in pounds. Now run by The Maine Sportsman magazine, the BBMC awards a patch and certificate to hunters who register their bucks, which must be weighed on a certified scale, with all internal organs removed. The Club receives between 400 and 500 entries each year, and it’s widely acknowledged there are probably at least as many of these huge deer taken each year that never get entered. Most weigh in the low to mid 200s, but every so often one is felled that far exceeds the minimum.
Most of Maine’s biggest bucks come from the more remote regions where light hunting pressure allows them to live long enough to realize their full potential for body growth. It was in just such an area that Brendan Moore and his hunting partner Chris Griggs began their 2018 hunt in typical Northwoods fashion, driving the logging roads in search of a large track in the snow.
The first couple days produced several tracks and a few deer sightings, though not of the caliber they sought. On Day 3 they found a fresher, larger track and formulated a plan with Moore taking up the trail and Griggs circling around to where they thought the buck might be headed, based on the previous two days of hunting the area.
The track Moore followed through fresh powder led him through open cuttings and old choppings, up skid trails and down winter roads, over hardwood ridges and down into cedar swamps, only to find himself back where he began. Nonetheless he continued on and soon found a running track indicating he had jumped the deer.
More straight-line tracking eventually brought Moore into a spruce thicket alongside a river where the buck’s trail began to meander. An experienced tracker, Moore recognized this as a sign the buck had slowed, and could even be bedded nearby. Then he saw it, just the top of the buck’s rack, not 30 yards distance. Wanting to be certain of his target, Moore risked moving closer, which allowed him a clear and lethal neck shot. That was at 11:15 a.m. Moore and Griggs didn’t make it back to camp with the buck until 9 p.m. and it would be four more days before they got to an official scale that weighed the buck at 300 pounds even.