The 2022 deer season is off to a heck of a start, and we are going to track the whole thing, month by month, right here. To kick things off, below are the biggest bucks of September, which are a convincing testament to how good early-season deer hunting can be. Keep in mind that many states don’t even open for deer until half way through September and others don’t get going until October 1st. Even in the states that open the earliest, the total number of active deer hunters this month is a small fraction of what it will be come November. And yet, year after year, we never have any problem compiling a long list of September giants—both muleys and whitetails. It’s safe to say that if you’re serious about tagging a mature buck and are waiting for “things to get good”, you might want to rethink things. And if it helps to have some proof of just how good this month can be, here is is.
Kansas whitetail expert Donnie Monroe is no stranger to great big deer; as a member of the Team 200 television show, Monroe has several trophy bucks on his wall, including a 200-inch buck shot in 2018. He took another monster this month—and manage to break a record in the process. ‘I spent a lot of time glassing this buck, putting out trail cams, and coming up with a plan. I finally figured out where he was bedding and which beanfield he liked to feed in, and I decided I had to try for him in a little pocket of cover connecting the two.”
Monroe’s plan worked. “I knew I was going to have a narrow window of opportunity if he showed up, so I sat on the ground and kept my muzzleloader on shooting sticks, with the butt against my bino harness. I’m normally a bowhunter and I probably should have had it, since the buck came through at 40 yards.” Monroe’s buck had 23 scorable points, grossed 230-4/8 B&C, and went 213⅞ on the Buckmasters system, which beat the previous state-record BTR muzzleloader buck by ⅞ of an inch.
Matt Reed tagged his biggest whitetail buck ever on Kentucky’s September 3rd archery opener, after eying the buck all summer. With an unofficial Boone and Crockett score of 194 1/8 inches, the early-September trophy sports 18 points with super-wide bases and an 18 1/4-inch inside spread. “I don’t hunt this early in the season every year,” Reed told F&S. “But if I’m hunting a good-size deer, early season is the best time in my mind to hunt them, because you can time your watch to when they’re going be where they’re going to be.” Which is just what he did. Despite it being 90 degrees on that opening day, Reed’s target buck walked right under his stand at the appointed time and turned broadside. “Killing a deer like that has always been my end goal,” he said. “I’m still walking around with a stupid grin on my face.” You can read the full story here.
Minnesota Drop-Tine Monster
Chad Garteski knows top-notch whitetail ground. As owner of Weiss Realty, he sells it for a living, and as a dedicated deer hunter, he owns a chunk or two of it himself. Garteski was hunting one of his properties on the second day of the Minnesota bow season when he encountered a deer he’d named the “Jam-4″ buck. “He was one of my target deer last fall, and I almost had a shot at him on November 1, when he came in to rattling,” Gartestki said. “He smelled me at the last minute and stiff-legged away.” Garteski shot another great whitetail a few days later and was relieved to learn that the Jam-4 buck was alive and well after the season. The buck was a regular on Garteski’s trail cams this summer, and he hunted him the first time he had a perfect wind. “He showed up and there was velvet hanging all over, and twisted around, his rack,” Garteski said. “It was a pretty amazing sight.” The hunter gross scored the heavy-beamed, main-frame 10-point at 184 inches B&C but admitted it was hard to get an accurate tally with all that velvet in the way. Check out the full story of Garteski’s buck here.
Mystery Velvet Muley
We don’t know much about this incredible mule deer, except that it is obviously on the North side—the Far North side—of 200 inches and was apparently taken by a hunter named Collin Heaps. We’ll keep our nose to the wind for further details. In the meantime, feast your eyes.
Kansas Triple-Beam Beast
An arid summer has posed some problems for whitetail hunters in Kansas and other central plains states, but it turned out to be a boon for Pete Alfano. “With our extreme drought conditions and lack of food on neighboring farms, I pulled in quite a few new bucks this season, including one I knew was going to be special when I spotted him in summer,” said the co-owner of Whitetail Properties. “I’d done a lot of scouting for this deer and felt he bedded close to a bean field I’d planted that was adjacent to water. I got into the stand on opening day, and it was like the buck read my script.” Alfano’s giant grossed 194⅜ inches and sported a 13-inch beam that sprouted from his forehead.
Father-and-Son Velvet Double
Robbie Ammons is no stranger to great big whitetails; the Kentuckian has two bucks over 200 inches and a wall full of trophy bucks. But the veteran bowhunter had never shot a big velvet typical, something he wanted to change in the worst way. And he did just that the morning of the Bluegrass State bow opener, arrowing a 185-inch giant he’d been chasing for over two seasons. But the celebration wasn’t over in the Ammons’ family. Robbie’s son Garrett crawled into a stand that very evening and arrowed a 183-inch monster that was also packing a full rack of velvet. You can read the story of their hunt here.
Beau Wamsley and his father had been chasing a buck they called “Stickers” for two seasons on their Nebraska property when the elder had a chance at him in the 2021 season. “Unfortunately, Dad had a crossbow malfunction and missed,” Beau said. “After that, the buck seemed to go nocturnal. We felt this buck was already going downhill, antler-wise, so I was determined to try for him this fall.” Beau was getting consistent photos of the buck prior the season, but he knew that he’d only have one chance at him.
“We had a good cold front come in, and the temperature dropped from the usual 90 to 95 degrees to 54 degrees for a high. When I saw that, I immediately told my boss I’d be leaving work around noon to go hunting,” Wamsely said. He headed to a stand near a bedding area along a river bottom. Deer after deer piled out that evening, but with 30 minutes of light the big one hadn’t shown. “Finally he emerged from the thickets, crossed the river, and walked right toward me. I stopped him after he crossed a fence, and he turned broadside.” Wamsley made good on a the 28-yard shot. “After three years of chasing the most notorious deer on the farm, I finally got him” The rack has a 23½-inch inside spread, 7½-inch bases, and 21 scorable points. “He ended up gross-scoring 186 and is my biggest deer to date. I’m 20 years old, and I’m still pumped up about it.”
Missouri Best-Buds Double
Dalton Barnes shared this post on his Facebook page just yesterday, showing an incredible Show-Me State double, taken by him (top) and his childhood friend, Josh Heuser. Reacting to his buddy’s buck, Barnes wrote in a related post: “I don’t even know what to say!! When we were kids we use to crawl around the floor acting like deer taking turns shooting each other with nerf guns while dreaming about deer like this. For both of us to be able to harvest the biggest deer of our lives four days apart is just mind blowing, and roughly pushing 475” of horn is just crazy.”
For his part, Heuser wrote in a post about his buck: “As a child I dreamt of an animal like this…. When I purchased my first vehicle, the first thing I did was buy a Missouri Monarch decal for the rear window…. I’m still in shock. My very own Missouri Monarch. 5 long years of watching this deer is finally over.” There’s talk that Heuser’s incredible buck could be a state record. We’ve reached out to both hunters for more information, so stay tuned.
When Heath Rayfield drew an early-muzzleloader tag for Kansas, he didn’t spend a second wondering where to hunt, but just called his friends Cody and Kelsey Nickel, owners of Double Nickel LLC. “During the summer, Cody and I started watching a deer he’d named ‘Austin’,” Rayfield said. As the opener approached, Cody felt that if the deer stayed true to his pattern, Rayfield would get a shot. The opener was September 12th, and with a perfect southwest wind, he climbed into a tripod stand. “I was overlooking a water tank that Austin had been hitting on his way to a soybean field in the evening.” Despite temperatures in the 90s, deer were moving early that day. “About 6:45pm, I looked across the CRP and saw three bucks coming to the tank, with Austin in the back. Watching him come for 300 yards was unbelievable, especially that early in the afternoon.” When the bucks reached the tank, Rayfield watched them drink for 10 minutes before they turned to head north. “I just had a small window in the tall grass to make the shot, but I touched it off. and after the shot I couldn’t tell if I’d hit my mark or if he’d just disappeared in the grass.” But with the help of his outfitter, he found the buck only 20 yards from where he’d shot him. “This was one of the quickest hunts I’ve ever had in Kansas; Austin was a super-wide buck and my second-largest at 179⅞ B&C. I can’t say enough about my Kansas family, Cody and Kelsy Nickels, and it was a blessing to be sitting behind this special deer.”
Monster High-Country Muley
Veteran backcountry hunter Donnie Paul posted this great buck on his Instagram page. We are still hoping for more details, but apparently he trekked 8 miles into the Wyoming mountains to tag this incredible muley. The tall, wide-racked giant grossed 194-2/8 inches.
Kentucky Public-Land Stud
Jace Allen is a Missouri deer nut, with friends in Kentucky who’d been pestering him to come down and hunt. “I’d actually never hunted there before, but then my buddy started sending me pics of a pair of bucks living on public land,” he told F&S. “I’d had a recent job change that allowed me more time to hunt, so I finally decided it was time to go. Plus the bucks he had on trail cam were pretty amazing.” Allen arrived just before the Kentucky bow opener and was determined to stay until he killed a good buck.
After nearly three weeks of effort, things finally came together. “I’d found this island of trees where I could see the corn and bean fields these bucks were basically living in,” he said. “I hung a stand and came back in the morning to hunt it. I managed to spot a buck we called “Crabs” in that bean field. He fed, then bedded, and I knew I had to put a stalk on him.” It was a windy day, and Allen decided to use that to his advantage by slipping in close and waiting for the buck to stand up and feed, a mid-morning pattern he’d observed. “I snuck to a spot I figured was 70 yards from his bed and settled in. When he finally stood up, I was shocked; he was only 29 yards away. I waited for him to put his head down to feed, then I stood and drew. As soon as he turned broadside, I took the shot. I could tell I’d hit him, but I nocked another arrow and when he stopped at 63 yards, I shot him again.” Allen found the buck after a short blood trail. Despite only a 16-inch inside spread and relatively short beams, his public-land, 14-point trophy grossed 182 inches B&C.
Wisconsin Mystery Monster
Absolute ⚒️⚒️⚒️ from Pepin/Buffalo County, Wisconsin‼️‼️‼️‼️Congrats Mark on this absolute slob of a whitetail! 18…
According to the post above on Wisconsin Woods and Whitetails, the hunter’s name is Mark and the location was Pepin, Wisconsin. This pretty little town is in the county by the same name, which just happens to be adjacent to Buffalo County, the nation’s No. 1 producer of B&C whitetails. The 18-point monster is said to gross 196 inches B&C. We’ll bring more details as soon as we have them.
Young-Gun Buckeye Booner
Not many high-school kids have tagged one Booner whitetail, but Carson Putnam took his second this month. In 2021, Carson shot a 260-inch behemoth during the gun season. And this week, he proved that the first buck was no fluke when he tagged another giant, this time with his bow. While not officially gross-scored yet, this wide and heavy monster should push the 190-inch mark.
“My dad and I had been watching this buck all summer while scouting,” Carson said. “He showed up on our cameras about three weeks ago, and then started daylighting the week before the archery opener. I hunted him the Sunday of opening weekend but had no luck. The next day, I had trap-shooting practice after school so I couldn’t hunt, and of course he came out about 10 yards from my tree stand about 5:00 p.m. I was able to hunt the next evening, and he appeared about 5:30. I filmed him with my phone as he walked into the standing corn. Eventually he worked within 30 yards, and gave me a perfect broadside shot.”