Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Why Do They Grow So Many Record-book Whitetails? (2023)

At 78, Tom Indrebo has a memory like a steel trap—at least when it comes to bucks killed on his property in Buffalo County. He’ll tell you about when a young lady killed a forked-horn buck weighing 240 pounds after it was field-dressed. How do you get such a massive-bodied deer with tiny antlers? It all comes down to nutrition and timing.

Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Why Do They Grow So Many Record-book Whitetails? (1)

In the state rankings, Wisconsin has appeared in the top 3 since the 1940s. Background, Ken Turnergetting ready to pull the trigger on a 160-4/8 B&C buck in 1954.

One spring, a tornado ripped through the area and dropped 3-4 inches of hail, destroying crops and tree blossoms. The deer had little to eat until farmers planted cover crops in August. By the time the shoots surfaced, the bucks were hard-antlered and gorged themselves on the crops. They packed on the pounds but not the inches.

Get him started, and Indrebo will tell you about the history of Buffalo County, going back to when immigrants from Scandinavia settled there in the mid-1800s. The original settlers might be gone, but their apple orchards are still scattered throughout its woodlands. In the 1930s, he says, it was a big deal just to see a deer track.

Daniel J. Bernarde with a typical Buffalo County whitetail scoring 183-7/8 points.

Indrebo owns and operates Bluff Country Outfitters. Since 1993, he’s managed his property for big whitetail deer, with many of his repeat clients visiting him in the spring and summer to help around the property. Nowadays, those clients are like family, he says.

He grew up just east of Buffalo County and recalled a statewide hunting contest in the early 1980s. It wasn’t a contest for big antlers; these bucks were judged on weight. Even though the contest was held after the rut, those bucks still weighed a good 230 pounds. Of the top 20 heaviest deer, 18 were from Buffalo County. That got Indrebo’s attention.


LocationNo. of Entries
1. Buffalo Co., Wisconsin160
2. Maverick Co., Texas105
3. St. Louis Co., Minnesota104
4. Webb Co., Texas95
5. La Salle Co., Texas82

More recently, this chunk of western Wisconsin has produced more than just big-bodied deer. In the past 20 years, hunters in Buffalo County have entered 90 whitetail bucks into the Boone and Crockett records, more than any other county during that time. According to the Club’s County Search Tool, Buffalo County claims 160 record-book whitetail entries total, a solid 55 more entries than Maverick County, Texas, the runner-up. Wisconsin’s whitetail powerhouse didn’t happen by accident. A combination of topography, high-quality forage, and solid deer management created the perfect storm for some really big deer.

Rural Bluff Country

Buffalo County is located in the Driftless Area. During the Last Glacial Period, glaciers extended into the Midwest and left behind glacial deposits known as drift. The 24,000-square mile Driftless Area was never covered by glaciers. As a result, the landscape wasn’t scraped clean. The Driftless Area kept its rugged bluff country and fertile river valleys.

“Those steep slopes make hunting whitetails harder because the winds are really tricky,” says Mark Rasmussen, Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist. “Most people hunt out of treestands, and on those steep slopes the wind swirls around. It feels like most of the county is on a slope.” Those steep bluffs are punctuated by wooded ridges with agriculture in the bottom, creating plenty of edge habitat that whitetails love. The area is part of the tallgrass prairie and oak savanna communities.

Classic Buffalo County terrain. Jacob L. Guelig shot this buck during Wisconsin's 2015 season.

With one stoplight, Buffalo County is far enough away from big cities to keep the area distinctly rural. At the same time, the city isn’t too far away. Plenty of hunters in cities like Minneapolis pay for the opportunity to kill a big buck. With that kind of demand comes an incentive for landowners to work together to build bigger deer.

Private and Productive Habitat

As a whole, Wisconsin is roughly 82 percent private land. By comparison, Buffalo County is 92 percent private land with limited access. “Door knocking is not super-productive anymore,” says Rasmussen. “It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.”

Hunters didn’t even knock on doors to hunt a farmer’s property 50 years ago. That ended in the 1970s after a couple of bad winters forced Minnesota wildlife managers across the Mississippi River to the west to close their gun season. Indebro recalls that for a $35 nonresident license, those deer hunters poured into Buffalo County and changed the hunting there forever.

Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Why Do They Grow So Many Record-book Whitetails? (4)

Elmer Gotz's non-typical scoring 253 pointshas been the state record since 1973.

“One guy had 35 deer piled up, and then the farmers got together and posted their land,” Indebro says. “They didn’t want to let anyone shoot a gun, but you could bowhunt. The hunting essentially got shut down. The herd got a whole new start.” Indebro liked to bowhunt, and the farmers took one look at his weapon of choice and saw him as a low-level threat—if not crazy.

In 1993, Indebro bought a farm in Buffalo County for $300/acre and moved there. He didn’t buy it with the intention of outfitting it. He wanted to hunt but never actually hunted at all. “I was trying to figure out how to pay for the farm,” he says. A taxidermist across the river in Minnesota knew a dentist from Florida looking for a place to hunt. Indebro’s farm had good deer, so he let them hunt his place for a fee. Indebro wasn’t alone.

As hunters started caring less about a deer’s weight and more about its antler score, they started to come to Buffalo County. Demand for land went up. So did land values; property taxes followed. Farmers started selling the wooded parcels they couldn’t farm, and the new landowners put in ponds and planted more trees. Indebro says he’s planted hundreds of thousands of trees on his property over the years. Today, farmers might farm, but it’s not people food they’re growing.

“Almost 100 percent of the county has been put into management,” Indebro says. “Those crops are left for the deer.” Corn and soybean crops keep deer fat and happy in the bottomlands, while acorns on sunny hillsides provide year-round dining. The apple orchards left behind by early settlers are the cherry on top, and programs from the USDA, authorized in the Farm Bill, help hold the landscape together.

Deer Management

Today, the bucks of Buffalo County are hardly a secret. As a result, a lot of cash trades hands for hunting property there. Farms sell for around $10,000/acre now, says Indebro—a far cry from the $300/acre he paid for his first farm. That kind of money means land managers maximize every square inch to grow the biggest deer possible.

Even with Wisconsin’s relatively liberal deer hunting season (hunters can kill three does per license and one buck per weapon type), land managers build big deer. Indebro says the average antler gains are 20-30 inches each year based on the sheds they find. The most he’s seen one jump in a year is 38 inches.

Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Why Do They Grow So Many Record-book Whitetails? (5)

Josh Westbrook is joined by his family and his Buffalo County buck taken during the 2021 season.

No discussion about big whitetails is complete without talking about genetics. While there is no direct evidence that Buffalo County is producing a new kind of superior subspecies of whitetail, proper deer management lends itself to producing bigger deer. If bucks are allowed to grow old and big, they’re able to pass on those genes. Recent research has shown that deer are more than just a product of what they eat. They’re also a product of what their parents and grandparents ate. When you have generations of big deer eating quality forage, plus security to grow old, you’ve got the recipe for record-book deer.

Folks in this part of the country are keeping an eye out for chronic wasting disease. While the Boone and Crockett Club is busy keeping tabs on all those big bucks, we’re also keeping tabs on the spread of this always fatal disease. In the meantime, Buffalo County still reigns supreme as the top record-book buck county in the U.S.

“Everywhere is deer habitat,” says Rasmussen. “There is a culture around here of people trying to grow bigger deer.” According to the Boone and Crockett records, it’s working.


Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Why Do They Grow So Many Record-book Whitetails? ›

Wisconsin's whitetail powerhouse didn't happen by accident. A combination of topography, high-quality forage, and solid deer management created the perfect storm for some really big deer.

Why does Buffalo County have big bucks? ›

The lack of glaciers in Buffalo County, Wisconsin has left an abundance of minerals in the farm land. In addition to the minerals, the topography has made it challenging for hunters for consistent wind, This is why Buffalo County has been famous for those rack growing monster trophy whitetails.

What county in Wisconsin has the biggest bucks? ›

Two hours north of those lands, you'll find what's often considered Wisconsin's – and America's – premier deer hunting county: Buffalo County. Don't let its name fool you; Buffalo County is all about the deer and has been ranked by Boone & Crocket as United States' top county for trophy white-tails.

What county produces the biggest whitetail deer? ›

The World's Record and number two all-time non-typical whitetail deer recognized by B&C are picked-up trophies scoring 333-7/8 and 328-2/8 B&C points respectively, and were found in St. Louis County, Missouri and Portage County, Ohio.

What state has the most record book bucks? ›

Wisconsin is the #1 ranked state with 1,822 total entries and six counties in the top 20 U.S. counties with the most records produced.

Why are deer so big in Wisconsin? ›

Waller said that mismanaged habitats, milder winters, deer feeds, fewer predators and regulated hunting have all contributed to the rapid population growth.

Why are midwest deer so big? ›

Strickland said soybean crops contribute the most to deer size. White-tailed deer eat only the seed of grain crops like corn, but they eat all parts of soybean plants, which are grown on rich soil. This gives them the nutrients required to grow larger bodies.

What are the best buck counties in Wisconsin? ›

Buffalo county in west central Wisconsin ranks right up there with Pike County, Illinois or Monroe County, Iowa. The counties to the south of Buffalo – namely Trempealeau, Vernon, Crawford and Grant are all prime-time big buck counties, but definitely not the only place to look.

What is the biggest buck killed in Wisconsin? ›

“The record for the biggest deer in Wisconsin ever to be found or killed is 253 inches.

Where in Wisconsin has the highest deer density? ›

The five counties with the greatest density in forestland were Eau Claire, Clark, Adams, Taylor and Monroe. Many agricultural counties have higher deer densities on their farmland than are usually found in forestland. The five counties with the greatest farmland density are: Adams, Richland, Waupaca, Vernon and Juneau.

What state kills the most whitetail deer? ›

One of the regions with the highest success rates in the country is the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin record some of the highest antlered buck harvest rates in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the charts in 2021 with estimates of 145,320 harvested bucks.

What is the number 1 whitetail deer? ›

The current world record typical whitetail is the famous Hanson buck, which has just over 213 inches of net antler.

What is the deer capital of the world? ›

City of Antlers, OK | Deer capital of the world.

What is the deer capital of America? ›

City of Antlers, OK | Deer capital of the world.

What is considered a trophy whitetail deer? ›

Buckmaster's Minimum Requirement for Record Book Whitetail Bucks with gun is 140 inches. Buckmaster's Minimum Requirement for Record Book Whitetail Bucks with bow is 105 inches.

What is the biggest bucks in history? ›

The largest whitetail deer ever recorded was a massive 540 pounds! The largest whitetail deer ever recorded was a massive buck that weighed an estimated 540 pounds. This huge male was shot and killed by hunter John Annett in Ontario, Canada in 1977 and is rumored to be the largest white-tail ever seen.

What kills the most deer annually in Wisconsin? ›

Deer-vehicle crashes are a major safety concern for Wisconsin motorists. Over the past 5 years, reported crash data shows over 19,000 deer are killed annually by vehicles on Wisconsin roadways.

What is the most common deer in Wisconsin? ›

The white-tailed deer is one of Wisconsin's official wildlife animals and North America's most abundant big-game animal.

Does Wisconsin or Minnesota have more deer? ›


Since 1980, Wisconsin hunters have registered an average of 367,000 deer each fall, compared with 185,000 in Minnesota, according to data from the two states. The difference is more pronounced when you account for the fact that Minnesota has 48 percent more land.

What state is the hardest to hunt deer? ›

The Worst States for Deer Hunting
  • The Eight Worst Deer Hunting States. Florida. ...
  • Florida. Yes, there are a few viable hunting lands in Florida. ...
  • Louisiana. Like Florida, Louisiana has plenty of swampy land that can make deer hunting difficult and even treacherous. ...
  • New Jersey. ...
  • Vermont. ...
  • New Hampshire. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Rhode Island.

How can you tell if a deer is big? ›

A mature doe will have a longer body, while a juvenile deer will have a body that is boxier. Think of them as a suitcase compared to a briefcases. The mature doe has the long shape of a large suitcase, while the young deer will resemble a square box or briefcase.

Where do deer get the biggest? ›

The sambar is the largest deer species native to India and southeast Asia. It can reach 1,204 pounds and has been introduced in a few countries to differing degrees of success. The largest deer on the planet is the moose (known as elk in Europe).

What is the most beautiful county in Wisconsin? ›

Door County

There are many charming small towns that dot Door County's coastline from Egg Harbor, named one of The Culture Trip's most beautiful Wisconsin towns, to the lovely village of Ephraim. In addition, 11 historic lighthouses can be found, one of the largest clusters of lighthouses in any US state.

What is the most points on a buck in Wisconsin? ›

The current record-holder is a 30-point Buffalo County buck killed in 1973 that scored 253. A representative from the Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club came out to see Olsen's shed and felt confident after preliminary measurements that his buck would set a new record.

What is the healthiest county in Wisconsin? ›

Ozaukee County ranks the healthiest in Wisconsin and Menominee is the least healthy county in the state, according to new County Health Rankings & Roadmaps data from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

What is the widest spread whitetail buck ever killed? ›

The current record for the largest typical rack belongs to a deer shot in Saskatchewan, Canada by Milo N. Hanson in 1993. Totaling 213 5/8 points, this largely symmetrical, 14-point rack is impressive to behold.

What is the best buck ever killed? ›

The Stories Behind the Biggest Whitetail Deer—EVER
  • Number 1 – Missouri Pick Up. Score: 333-7/8. Location: St. ...
  • Number 2 – Ohio Pick Up. Score: 328-2/8. Location: Portage County, Ohio. ...
  • Number 3 – Brewster Buck. Score: 327-7/8. ...
  • Number 4 – Butcher Buck. Score: 321-3/8. ...
  • Number 5 – Tennessee Tucker Buck. Score: 315-1/8.

What is the widest whitetail buck ever killed? ›

Hunters like to spread their arms as wide as they can to dramatize the span of antlers they've seen towering over disappearing bucks. Alas, the widest inside spread actually recorded in that edition of the official B&C book stretches just 32 inches, beam to beam.

What is the heaviest whitetail in Wisconsin? ›

Don't Forget 1907 and 1924 Bucks

Included in that list are a 1907 Wisconsin buck that allegedly weighed 437 pounds dressed, and a 1924 Wisconsin buck that weighed 386 pounds.

What is the success rate of deer hunters in Wisconsin? ›

Any deer is a trophy. Well, Wisconsin also had the lowest percentage of successful deer hunters (25 percent) in 13 Midwestern states. The average in the region was 42 percent success (meaning on average, 42 percent of hunters shot at least one deer).

Which state has the biggest body deer? ›

Even though Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Kentucky get tons of press for their huge whitetails, the record books don't lie. Wisconsin leads the pack for Boone & Crockett entries. Pritzl recognized the areas that routinely produce the biggest Badger State bucks.

What state has the longest whitetail deer season? ›

One of the most traditional states in the country also offers some truly exciting hunting seasons. Tennessee offers one of the longest deer hunting seasons in the country. For Tennessee deer hunting, the statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is two per season, and one per day.

Do whitetail deer fight to the death? ›

Still, it's pretty unusual for bucks to actually kill each other. However, a study by Gabrial Karns, a graduate student from North Carolina State University, and Dr. Mark Conners, manager and wildlife biologist at Chesapeake Farms on the eastern shore of Maryland, shows some fights do lead to a slow death.

What state kills the most deer each year? ›

How Many Deer Are Killed Each Year Statistics
  • In the US, There Are 30 Million White-Tailed Deer.
  • Approximately 80% of the Hunting Population Hunts Big Game.
  • According to the New Deer Report, Texas Had the Highest Buck Harvest of 449,933.
  • The Worst State for Harvesting Deer Is New York.
Jan 28, 2023

What is the best eating deer? ›

Whitetail Deer

It would be a considerable oversight not to mention whitetail, which can be heralded as the most consumed wild game in America. A deer backstrap grilled to perfection is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

What is the rarest deer to hunt? ›

Each fall, deer hunters see or harvest albino or piebald whitetails and discuss what a rare occurrence that is. But an even greater rarity exists: melanistic whitetails. Melanistic whitetails are a true gem of whitetail color morphs.

How much is a perfect whitetail buck worth? ›

A perfect Whitetail Buck pelt is worth $3.25, a perfect carcass is worth $10.00, and Buck Antlers are worth $1.05.

What is the meat of deer known as? ›

venison, (from Latin venatus, “to hunt”), the meat from any kind of deer; originally, the term referred to any kind of edible game.

What is the lifespan of a deer? ›

Most male white-tailed deer live to about 6 years of age. Some live longer, some less. Females tend to live about two years longer than males. The record white-tailed deer was a doe in Georgia that lived 22 years.

Does China have deer? ›

They have a large, healthy population with well protected habitats. Most of deer are not rare in the country; however, some species are endangered and protected by wildlife law. Among the 34 species of deer, mouse deer and musk deer in China, 17 are under first or second class national protection.

What is the rarest deer in the USA? ›

The Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is an endangered deer that lives only in the Florida Keys.

What state has the most deer hunters? ›

Texas lead the nation in number of deer hunters in 2016-2017 with nearly 740,000 participants. The Lone Star State has also seen a 28% increase in deer hunters from 2006 to 2016, according to QDMA. Texas hunters also benefit from some 1 million acres of publicly accessible land.

What county is best for deer hunting? ›

Ten of the world's best hunting destinations
  • Alaska. The “Last Frontier” of raw wilderness, Alaska offers so many options for hunters, which is possibly why I've hunted there 19 times. ...
  • Canada's Yukon. ...
  • Tanzania. ...
  • Namibia. ...
  • Mongolia. ...
  • Australia's Northern Territory. ...
  • New Zealand. ...
  • Scotland.
Sep 9, 2019

How old is an 8 point buck? ›

Nearly all bucks with superior genetics and adequate nutrition have eight or more points when 2 years old.

How big is a 150 class buck? ›

Main Beam length

In the case of this buck, the main beam is significantly longer than the ear and eye to nose tip measurements combined. Combined the reference points equal 14-16 inches, so this deer can easily be estimated to have a 19-20 inch main beam measurement.

What score does a whitetail have to be to be a diamond? ›

Trophy RatingDifficultyRating
0 - 421 - TrivialBronze
43 - 1262 - MinorSilver
127 - 1902 - MinorGold
191 - 2123 - Very EasyDiamond
1 more row

What state is known for the biggest Bucks? ›

#1 – Wisconsin

Wisconsin is the #1 ranked state with 1,822 total entries and six counties in the top 20 U.S. counties with the most records produced.

What was the Bucks best year? ›

Here are the five best Bucks seasons of all time.
  • 66-16, NBA champions 1970-71. ...
  • 46-26, NBA champions 2020-21. ...
  • 59-23, NBA Finals, 1973-74. ...
  • 57-25, Eastern Conference Finals, 1985-86. ...
  • 60-22 Eastern Conference Finals, 2018-19.
Mar 21, 2023

What is the world record free range whitetail buck? ›

Brewster's buck was officially scored in February, 2019. He netted an astounding 327 7/8 inches and is officially the world record free-ranging, non-typical whitetail buck taken by a hunter.

What county in PA has the best big bucks? ›

Allegheny County boasts the most all-time P&Y entries (182) and a current archery state record. That 2004 typical buck, taken by Michael Nicola of Waterford, scored 178 2/8 net inches. Varied habitat and rich agriculture help bucks grow long in the tooth in this region.

What is the best county in Ohio for big bucks? ›

Top Areas For Ohio Deer Hunting. While trophy bucks can be found in every corner of the Buckeye State, Coshocton, Licking, and Muskingum counties in east-central Ohio top the list of most deer harvested. These counties consistently produce massive bucks and offer some great opportunities for public land deer hunting.

Why are South Texas bucks so big? ›

One reason South Texas has historically produced large, antlered deer is the variety and quality of the plants that make up the habitat. For instance, research has shown that South Texas comes nearer providing adequate levels of protein during all seasons of the year than any other region of the state.

Why does New Jersey have so many deer? ›

White-tailed deer facts

As the human population has increased and divided land, we have created a more suitable habitat for the white-tailed deer to not only survive, but actually thrive. There are no natural predators to deer in New Jersey in high enough numbers to affect the white-tailed deer population.

Where is the best place to hunt big bucks? ›

Kansas, Iowa and Illinois are top choices when researching whitetail deer hunting outfitter. Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio come in secondary choices.

Is Bucks County wealthy? ›

1.9% of Pennsylvania households have annual incomes of $200,000+, and 10.3% have incomes of $100,000 or more.
Pennsylvania counties ranked by per capita income.
Median household income$74,828
Median family income$90,274
Number of households234,849
64 more columns

Where do big bucks like to live? ›

A southwest-facing slope provides two key elements a buck will look for in a bedding area: headwind and sunshine. This allows them to smell danger long before they see it and seek out a little warmth in the colder months. Mature bucks will typically lay down with a thick stand of trees at their backs.

What state has the best whitetail deer hunting? ›

No list of the best deer hunting states for giant whitetails would be complete without Kansas.

Where is the hole in the horn buck? ›

The original set of antlers was purchased with Larry's entire collection of Legendary Whitetails by Bass Pro Shops in 2002. The mount now hangs in the King of Bucks collection in the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri.

How many inches is Ohio Big Buck? ›

Each year the club honors hunters who harvest "typical" deer which meet the minimum 140 inch scoring requirement and "non-typical" deer meeting a minimum 160 inch score requirement.

Why are deer bigger up north? ›

For many types of animals, it pays to be bigger in the colder climates that exist at high latitudes and altitudes. Heftier animals have a smaller surface area-to-volume ratio, which helps reduce heat loss — a pattern known as Bergmann's Rule. (In general, a more massive organism has a smaller surface area-to-volume.)

What is the largest South American deer? ›

The marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus) is the largest deer species from South America reaching a length of 2 m (6.6 ft) and a shoulder height of 1.2 m (3.9 ft).

Why are Florida deer so small? ›

White-tailed deer in Florida are smaller than their northern relatives because their bodies have adapted to the steamy temperatures. Their smaller bodies allow deer to use less energy to regulate their body heat.

What state has the largest deer herd? ›

Texas has the highest deer population with 5.5 million!

What state allows the most deer harvested? ›

One of the regions with the highest success rates in the country is the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin record some of the highest antlered buck harvest rates in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the charts in 2021 with estimates of 145,320 harvested bucks.

What state has the longest deer season? ›

One of the most traditional states in the country also offers some truly exciting hunting seasons. Tennessee offers one of the longest deer hunting seasons in the country. For Tennessee deer hunting, the statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is two per season, and one per day.


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