Dustin Huff sat down with Team Realtree to talk about his 211 4/8-inch Indiana crossbow buck, the hunt, the score particulars, and more
Rack Report Details
Time of Year:
November 4, 2021
Decatur County Indiana
March 24, 2022 Update: We posted the story of Dustin Huff's giant Indiana typical to the Realtree Rack Report back in mid-February. Yesterday, the Huff Buck's net entry score of 211 4/8 was officially accepted by the Boone & Crockett Club's Big Game Records, according to North American Whitetail.
What's that mean? For now, the Huff Buck ranks as the No. 2 all-time largest typical whitetail in the world, second only to Milo Hanson's World Record 213 5/8 buck, taken in Saskatchewan in 1993. That also makes it the largest typical whitetail ever taken in the United States, and certainly the largest typical buck ever taken with a crossbow.
To dethrone the James Jordan Buck (206 1/8) and officially be recognized in the B&C records as the second-biggest typical of all time, the Huff Buck will have to be panel-scored by Boone & Crockett judges, an event that won't happen until after B&C's 32nd Big Game Awards Period ends in 2025.
Still, whitetails of this caliber don't walk past treestands often, and typicals are the rarest of them all. Odds are, the Dustin Huff Buck is the world-record runner-up, and will stay that way for a long time. That's especially cool because Huff himself is a down-to-earth hunter who just happens to wear Realtree camo. He sat down with Michael Waddell for A Bone to Pick podcast, as well as Bill and Tyler Jordan and David Blanton for a deep dive on the particulars of the score, and never-heard-before details on the story.
ORIGINAL FEB. 2022 RACK REPORT BY MICHAEL PENDLEY
Hunters across North America harvest an estimated 6 million deer per year year. Meanwhile, Milo Hanson killed the world record typical buck nearly 30 years ago. Even an English major can figure out that the odds of seeing a buck like that are pretty low.
When Indiana deer hunter Dustin Huff climbed into his stand on November 4th of last fall, killing a deer that rivaled the world record was the last thing on his mind. “I took the last week of October and the first week of November off to bow hunt,” Huff said. “I killed a 134” buck last season, my biggest so far, and I was hoping to get a chance at something that size or bigger.”
Things had been slow to that point. “I was on my seventh day of hunting in a row and I had spent eight to 10 hours each day in the stand. I’d killed a doe on Halloween, but I hadn’t seen a single good buck so far,” Huff said.
Huff was very familiar with the farm he was hunting, since he'd been hunting there most of his life and in fact shot his very first deer there when he was 12 years old. Since the action had been so slow, Huff had decided to mix things up that afternoon by taking his climbing stand and moving about 300 yards down the oak flat from where he had been hunting. For the first part of the evening, the results were about the same.
I had no idea he was even there. The first time I saw him to when I shot him ... 2 minutes.
“I was getting pretty frustrated. I was thinking that I was going to spend another evening seeing nothing. The sun had just dropped below the horizon and I just happened to look to my left and there he was. I knew right away that I was looking at the biggest buck I had ever seen, a deer I had never seen before either on camera or in person,” Huff said. He didn’t have much time to think about things. The big buck was already just 70 yards away and closing the distance.
“I didn’t even have time to take my rangefinder out of my pocket,” Huff said. When the buck got to what he estimated was 40 yards and turned to offer a good shot, the hunter settled the 30 yard dot of his crossbow scope high on the buck’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger.
The bolt hit home with a satisfying smack, and the buck scrambled 60 yards before stopping. “He stood there flicking his tail, then he started to stagger around and I watched him fall down the steep bluff behind him. I knew then that he was down for good and I just raised my arms up right there in the stand and I screamed. I couldn’t believe it. I think I was still in a little bit of shock,” Huff said.
HUFF TELLS HIS STORY TO BILL AND TYLER
The buck had thrashed down into a big briar thicket, and Huff knew he'd need help getting him out. “I called my girlfriend first and told her what had just happened. Then I called the landowner's son and my dad to tell them,” Huff said.
As he walked up to the deer, he knew he had something special, but he didn’t realize just how big the deer truly was. “I had never seen a deer this big. In my mind, I was thinking that this had to be a 180” deer. When my dad, the landowner, and his son all got there, the landowner remarked that he thought it would go at least 165,” Huff said.
The four men set out to extract the buck from the thicket and get it to the truck. When they got home, Huff called a couple of his buddies to come see the deer. “These guys know big deer," Huff said. "They were serious about killing mature bucks each year and hunted hard to do it. When they started measuring the buck, one of them looked at me and suggested I get a photographer to come out and take some really good pictures. I thought, no way, but they kept insisting, so I called a photographer friend and had them come out the next morning."
As the inches ticked off, reality began to sink in. The group came up with an astounding 213 inch measurement. “I started checking Google later that night,” Huff said. “I saw that the Indiana record was 195 inches. Then I saw what the world record was. I still couldn’t believe it.”
Word of the giant buck spread quickly. Huff soon found out that, while he had never seen or gotten photos of the deer on trail camera, some of his neighbors had. One of those neighbors was in a tree close enough to Huff that he could hear the men talking and dragging the deer out. It turns out that he had been getting trail camera photos of the buck for years and was hunting in a spot where he'd gotten daylight photos of the buck just the eveing before. Huff said the neighbor told him that he even had the buck in his scope at 200 yards during the previous year’s gun season, but couldn’t get a shot.
Besides trail camera photos, another neighbor had the buck’s sheds from the year before. That year's rack was a mainframe 11-pointer they estimated to gross about 195 inches.
On January 5th of this year, the buck’s mandatory 60-day drying period was up and the deer could be officially scored. The nearly perfect rack sported a 6x6 frame with a small kicker off one brow. The buck had it all, tine length, with G2’s over 13 inches, mass measurements over 7 inches, and main beams that stretched out to 27 inches. Add to all that an inside measurement of 21 and 4/8 and you come up with a mind blowing gross of 216 2/8 and a net score of 211 4/8, catapulting it over the legendary Jordan buck by nearly 5 inches and coming in just 2 ⅛ inches under the world-record Hanson buck.
“I look at the rack and I still can’t believe it,” Huff said. “I look at the size and how symmetrical it is, almost perfect, and I think to myself that this is God’s work to make a deer like this.”
DAVID BLANTON AND DUSTIN HUFF TALK NET SCORE
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