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Trophy Bucks

Biggest Buck Ever?

by Dianne Miller   |  February 16th, 2011 101
Here’s the inside story of what might be the greatest non-typical in history — a tale complete with all the intrigue of a mystery novel.

Rod Miller feeds Goliath after the gigantic deer was recovered from another Pennsylvania deer breeder’s property last summer. Early estimates put the number of scorable points on this rack at “50 to 60,” and his live weight was a whopping 375 pounds! Photo courtesy of Rod and Dianne Miller

If you’ve never been through this type of experience, it will be hard for you to understand the abject horror my husband, Rod, and I faced on Oct. 20, 1999.

It started off like any other day on our farm, feeding horses and our growing herd of white-tailed deer. But the routine came to an abrupt halt that evening when we found the hole in the fence. Our world had been turned upside down.

Rod and I got into raising whitetails back in the late 1980s, long before deer farming exploded (there are currently 800 of us) in Pennsylvania. We looked at it more as a hobby than a money-making venture. A lot of other deer farmers probably got started the same way, and for the same reasons: enjoying the novelty of having a “wild animal” in your care, and watching their behavior in ways you never could when all you got to see of them were glimpses on the edges of a field in the evening or during the short days of hunting season.

When you have contact with these animals as we did, feeding them every day, interacting with them one-on-one, your relationship with them changes. And despite whatever preconceived notions you may have, whitetails, like people, all have individual personalities. You can understand, then, that all of our deer have names — like a doe we call “Piggy” because she inhaled her bottles of milk as a fawn — that came to us as we spent time with them.

And like people, deer have individual physical characteristics in their body shapes and facial features that you come to recognize as they mature. That might be easy to understand if you’re thinking about the rack grown by the bucks, but the does are just as distinctive. Since we’ve bottle fed almost all of our deer from the time they were small fawns, we can look at any one of our nearly 100 whitetails and call to them by name. Remember this as I tell the rest of this story.

Like many other people who started raising deer as a hobby and, as their interest grew, started a selective breeding program to improve the overall genetic quality of their herd, Rod and I were soon hit by the bug of seeing what kind of racks we could get our bucks to grow. Nutrition and food, as anyone who has studied whitetails knows, plays a big part in the equation, but the right genes have to be there or all that good chow goes for naught.

Selectively, we began buying buck fawns from breeders whose herds had long, well-documented lineages of antler producers. Without getting into a complicated discourse on genetics, that is how we happened to buy the deer we named “Goliath.” Both of us enjoy the symmetry of a typical rack, and we have a line of typicals that are extraordinary. But we’re really fascinated by the non-typicals, and that’s what Goliath’s line produced.


After Goliath was returned to the Millers, genetic testing was done to verify his identity. DNA extracted from the deer’s second set of shed antlers was compared to that of the recovered animal. Photo courtesy of Rod and Dianne Miller.

As a fawn, there really wasn’t anything exceptional about this little buck. He may have been a smidgen bigger than normal right from the start, but that was to be expected, given his genetic lines. If anything, he was remarkable for his tolerance, almost — if I can say this without seeming anthropomorphic — as if he enjoyed being around people. Lord knows he should have; he came onto our farm riding on my lap.

And then Goliath started growing his first rack. When it ended up having 21 “ring-holding” points, we knew we had an extraordinary buck.

If you grew up on a farm or in a rural setting, or even if you just have friends who live out in the country, you can understand that some things ingrained in city dwellers — such as locking your doors when you go away for the day or being suspicious of people you don’t know — just aren’t part of our daily lives. We both have jobs, Rod as an equipment operator at a manufactured-housing plant and myself as a librarian at the local elementary school, and we have more family (four generations of us living right here around Knox, Pennsylvania) and friends (including several hundred from our state deer farmers’ association) than you could imagine. And all of these people, sometimes as many as a dozen at a time, came by to visit with us and to see the rack on Goliath. Despite the coming and going of all of these people — many of whom were strangers to us at the time — the thought of being concerned for any of our personal possessions, let alone our deer, never crossed our minds.

I couldn’t tell you how many times we wondered aloud, as we watched Goliath’s first rack grow, what he was going to look like in his second year. But I can tell you that within a couple weeks of watching it bud out of the pedicles, we could see we weren’t going to be disappointed. And even before he began shedding the velvet that third fall of his life, we were clearly able to count 28 points. When that rack was done growing — all 230 B&C points’ worth — Goliath was one of the highest-scoring 2 1/2-year-old bucks ever recorded.

It’s funny to think back on it now, because that rack was, by anyone’s standards, enormous. But if you asked Rod or me what we remembered about Goliath, we’d probably tell you it was his temperament. Even during the rut, when all male deer get a little squirrelly, Goliath wasn’t aggressive toward us. We’ve had dogs around since we first started raising deer, dogs that have been bred for their herding and protecting instincts, but while we always had them with us when we went into Goliath’s enclosure in the fall, we never felt they were needed.

By August 1999, it was a rare evening when we didn’t have visitors while we were feeding our deer. Friends, and even friends of their friends, were stopping by with bags or bushels of apples. I’d be fibbing if I said it didn’t get to be hectic at times, but we knew how rare deer like Goliath are, and we also knew how much people wanted to see him. As much as we possibly could, we accommodated everyone who came to see him.


Based on photos of Goliath’s velvet rack, many experts say he would easily beat the world record of 333 7/8 Boone and Crockett points. Of course, as a captive deer, he’s ineligible for B&C entry. Photo courtesy of Rod and Dianne Miller.

Realizing other deer breeders would be interested in obtaining semen and offspring from Goliath, we advertised a “head and shoulder” photo of him to illustrate our price lists that appeared that fall in several deer farmers’ catalogs. As you might imagine, we had a tremendous response.

In early October we tranquilized Goliath and, under the supervision of our veterinarian, collected semen. For those not familiar with the process of artificial insemination, semen can be kept frozen for some time in what are referred to as “straws” and then used for breeding at a later date. Because of the circumstances I’m about to relate, however, we weren’t able to fill enough of those straws to meet the demand we had for them.

Pennsylvania in late October, with the leaves just starting to turn, is probably one of the prettiest places in the world. However, between our “real” jobs and the deer, we don’t get to enjoy much of this fall scenery. At that time of year, we’re both up very early, feeding our herd and on our way to work before the sun comes up. So it wasn’t until we got home on the fateful evening of Oct. 20, 1999, that we discovered a hole had been cut in our fence in the wee hours of the previous morning.

I’ll skip over the nightmare of the next few days, other than to relate that, at first, we thought that maybe some local kids had cut the fence, hoping to get Goliath’s genes spread around in the local deer population. It wasn’t until Rod found the drag marks and a pasture fence that had also been cut that we realized that this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment act by a group of juveniles. We’d been robbed by professionals.

Goliath and 16 does were missing. (Several of the does returned on their own, while most of the others we captured in the woods near our farm.) Someone had, with a great deal of forethought and planning, cut a hole in the fence in a spot that couldn’t be seen from our house. They then had tranquilized Goliath and dragged him to a waiting getaway vehicle. The thieves obviously weren’t interested in taking the does.

This was the start of a four-year nightmare. Along the way, we received “tips” that Goliath was suspected to be in Texas or Arkansas or some other state; there was even a period in the beginning when we couldn’t help but believe that he’d been destroyed because of the publicity the case was receiving.

With local and state newspapers carrying the story and our national associations helping to get the word out to their sizable memberships, it wasn’t conceivable to us that he could be out there someplace and no one know it. Still, with the State Police, the FBI and the Pennsylvania Game Commission all supposedly hot on the case, there wasn’t much we could do but wait for word.

As the months, and then years, dragged by, we gave up hope. Oh, there was occasional talk about his offspring showing up in one place or another, but nothing concrete ever came of it. And then, on July 29 of this year, we had an unexpected visit from four of our friends in the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers’ Association.

They were absolutely sure, they told us ecstatically when they arrived at our home that day, that they’d found Goliath alive, and less than 50 miles from our farm. That close? We could hardly believe them.

With quick action from our attorney, Ron Elliott, the next day we obtained a court order to go to the farm near Hazen, Pennsylvania, where our friends had found Goliath. The court order authorized us to bring the deer home. Imagine what went through our minds on the short drive down Interstate 80. Our first thought was, We’re finally going to get him back! But then, there was the darker side: What if it isn’t really Goliath?

However, our fears were gone the moment we saw him. Despite our concerns this might not be our deer, both Rod and I — as had our friends from the deer association — recognized Goliath immediately. And after we had him tranquilized, in preparation for bringing him home, Rod looked in the buck’s left ear and found the tattoo we’d put there when he was a fawn. Neither of us really needed to see that tattoo, because we were both so familiar with Goliath (remember what I told you earlier) that we recognized his face.

If you’re thinking this is the point in the story where the good guys ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after, you’re wrong. Yes, Goliath is back on our farm, and there are only a very few things — one of them the recent arrival of a grandchild — that could make us happier. But getting Goliath back was in some ways only the beginning of the story.

Before I get into that, however, let me tell you a few of the ironic — and heart-warming — things that happened along the way.

I know this is neither the time nor the place to get into the rhubarb that is swirling around the issue of hunting inside high fences. I will say, however, that 99.9 percent of the hunting preserve owners, just like 99.9 percent of us who raise their deer for them, are good and honest and hard-working people who deliver a service that is being driven by the law of supply and demand.

For those of us who are deer farmers, the philosophical debate over hunting preserves isn’t something we get into every day. We do, however, feed and care for our whitetails every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. No vacations. No breaks. And while a cattle or dairy farmer makes his profits from meat or milk, we deer farmers make our profits from the size of the antlers we produce. Hunting preserves, as you might surmise, are not interested in buying spike bucks.

Even the fact that our friends happened to stop at that farm was a bit of a fluke. Every year in late summer, these four guys — known in the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers’ Association as “The Four Amigos” — visit many of the breeders in northwestern Pennsylvania, looking for new bucks to diversify their own herds. Goliath’s photo, along with his sale price, was posted on this farm’s Web site for just one day before a buyer was found and a deal struck. Incredibly, that just happened to be the day one of the “amigos” was browsing the Internet in preparation for their annual buying trip.

You might also be interested in knowing — and this is one of the real bright spots in this whole ordeal — that Rod and I had pulled together, with a great deal of assistance from those family and friends I told you about, a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the safe return of Goliath. However, The Four Amigos — those four men who do not want all the fuss of publicity they’d get if I mentioned their names — refused to even discuss the reward. When pressed about taking the money, they said that all they wanted was “a big old smooch.” I still think that is a little strange, because they were talking to Rod at
the time!

In late August, after Goliath had been back with us for about two weeks, Rod and I and the owner of the farm where our deer was found agreed to a DNA test to make absolutely certain of the animal’s identity. Supervised by two veterinarians, four state police officers and the attorneys for both parties, Goliath was to be tranquilized so that blood and tissue samples could be removed.

The vets, however, felt that due to the warm weather and the short amount of time since he was last “put down” (when we tranquilized him to bring him home), this procedure would not be safe. Instead, a “sampling dart” (designed to fall out after it has penetrated) was fired into his hindquarters and DNA material — under the close scrutiny of the attorneys — was recovered and sent to a testing lab. This DNA test was the beginning of a long legal process that will still be going on as you read this.

There is a great deal more to this story that I am not permitted to relate to you, because of the legal actions that have been initiated. Goliath weighs an estimated 375 pounds, and even at age 2 1/2 he was not dragged off our farm by one person. Also, there were four years — from October 20, 1999, to July 30, 2003 — when his offspring and semen may have been sold without our knowledge or consent. And then there’s the matter of Goliath’s second-year rack, the one depicted in the pictures that we used to advertise his semen and fawns, that was cut off after he was stolen. It ended up on a hunting preserve in another state before being returned to us.

While I can’t tell you how all of this will play out, I can tell you that respected people in the deer-breeding industry are already speculating that Goliath’s current rack (he’s now 6 1/2 years old) might have the highest Boone and Crockett score ever recorded. Until the velvet comes off later this fall, however, that is just interesting conjecture.

But I can tell you for a fact that Rod and I — and all the family and friends who are stopping by to congratulate us for getting Goliath back — are once again able to sit back and speculate on what his rack might look like next year.

  • calvin wheeler

    that is an awsome story that must have been the best day in your life

  • bman

    let the amimal go god

    • Hunta

      I know right, let the buck live a long life.



    • Kyle

      doesnt matter how many points its has its all about mass. A 8 point could out score a 20 pointer. Mass and inches of horn are key.

    • kirstie

      i have shot a 17 point buck before. shot it right in maine my first year on youth day and i was 10 so its was amazing

  • anonymous

    If the fought that hard to get him back do you really think their going to let him go into the wild? That's a great deer and a very nice story.

  • ken hanson

    Let him go?what an idiot.They have every right to keep and enjoy that beautiful creature.I couldn't be happier that they got him back.

    • Jake

      how would you like to be captive ? Does that deer look happy at all

      • Let it go (right)

        Not sure which way your going with this Jake, that deer is super nice to look at if you let it go the deer may make it a week or so let him go (right) that's what's wrong in this world to many people like you have no knowledge about deer and life of a deer we need hunting to control population and disease but we don't need people to cry about fenced in deer come on buddy we all love looking at an amazing creature like a whitetail buck one that big any how. Let a deer like that go so it can be poched cut the antlers off and the remains left in the field so coyotes and crows can eat and poo poo get real Jake it'll look happy then i bet and let me know when a whitetail deer looks sad I need to learn there facial expressions.!?

      • marvin

        this animal could not survive on its own in the wild. its too late for that.

  • Anonymous

    He just wants to shoot the poor thing

    • dale firebird.

      yeah??? me to. at right there is alota meat. itd fill me up fer months.

  • Jack Hauf

    Ide pass it up if it walked in front of my stand.

    • Triston

      I wouldn't. Maybe if I knew it was somebodies but not if I thought It was just a random deer

    • sean


    • Kourtney

      who would do that?!?

  • mark ashley

    he is so freakin small i have seen way bigger

    • Judd beam

      oh i am so sure youve seen a bigger deer than that maybe in the spread but not the points so ha i bet if you seen it for your self you would need an adult diaper

    • Sheldon

      No becuse there are no uyher deer that big

    • blake

      dont talk that language i dog hunt if my pack of dogs run him, when he gets in front of me hes going on my specialty wall.

    • Tammy

      Please don't damn GOD!!! The story is what is important!!!

    • MissBuckNasty

      Haha, where at?!? Because I'd like to hunt there!!!

    • Donald Beech

      They are called MOOSE.

    • Tyler

      "that's so freakin small, I've seen way bigger"
      -I bet you get that a lot, don't you

  • the conmister

    Thats a great deer and if you ever let it go i would say in a wild life fasility but other than that you should most definetly keep him

  • tracy

    let him live to a ripe old age

    • Anna

      yeah right

  • sii

    he is a good deer

  • Chuck norris

    That deer looks like bambi!! yay!!! Yay!

  • ralee roberts

    if i had a chance i would shoot him wen i saw him he really big

  • Sheldon

    I like his hornse

  • EDward

    300 class at that time was big ……………..NOW 300 CLASS IS ALMOST THE NORM .IN THE DEER BREDDING BUSINESS






    • A human.

      Breeding* Clowns* Shoot* Profit* I agree with you, but if you're going to hold a good argument, use correct grammar.

    • grammar patrol

      caps lock. He's got to be right if it's in all capital letters.

    • grammar patrol

      hey wait… Whitehouse Whitetails are the people that stole him!!!!!!! That's his offspring! you bastard!


    Number one I've only seen one deer bigger than and the guy above me is right and not only that it is illegal to bait deer you have to stop putting seed and food out for them a mounth before the season starts so that the deer ain't obligated to come and feed you have to give fair chase because there is a differents in baiting and feeding you ain't allowed to feed and then shot a deer onto of a feed pile and I wouldn't release the deer because if i had him since a week old I would feel as though the deer is family to me you know what Im saying it wouldn't be wouldn't you be pissed off if someone shot your family member wouldn't you?

    • A human.

      Learn correct grammar you illiterate hillbilly.


    And the biggest deer I've ever shot is a 192in deer

    • A human.

      192 inches is 16 feet, Dumb ass.

      • ohio

        192 isnt that big for a whitetail score. My brother took a 201 this year

  • greatest. deer

    Dang id love to kill that one.the biggest deer iv ever killed is a 105

  • jack


  • david

    the biggest deer i shot was last year scored 186 nontypical B&C gross 172 B&C and i am only 13 it was my first buck

    • Ur mom

      screw u man thats a small deer compared to mine i have shot a 22 pointer and scored a 268 with a drop tie and im only 13 and i shot it saturday shotgun season .

      • mike flanders

        lame. probably paid $2800.00 for that deer. come hunt the big timber of northern maine and see how good you are. i realize you are young, but go brag somewhere else while i head out to shoot a 127lb. doe.

  • jim

    whatever how much did your daddy pay for it

  • big kt

    Hey white its time you grow up!

  • big kt

    dear passes*

    • chris

      i think that the deer has to many points on his head

  • big kt

    Tha dear deserves to live, if that dead paases the antlers can be collected and prised if it really is the biggest buck recoreded

    • mikeflanders

      waht eht hel r u tring to spel?

  • scott

    To all that say let the deer go. This deer has no fear, it has been raised by humans, so it would not last the first day of hunting season. For what reason so some jackass can put it up on his wall and say yeah I shot this one. Well no shit did you have an apple in your pocket and feed it to him before you pulled the trigger.
    I hunt alot. I put alot of time and effort in scouting, tracking, food ploting in spring and feeding wild deer AFTER hunting season in the winter to keep the deer health. But to put a captive deer back into the wild is
    stupid. It defeats the whole concept of hunting.

  • John

    This story is dated incorrectly, Goliath was brought home but then died in 2004.

  • Alexis

    My family has shot really big deer all 10 point and need help getting them back to their cabins and ik about hunting I have been hunting for 2 years and I am a girl and it's fun cuz I can talk to my family that hunts and the rest of my family has no idea and a buck that looks like that needs to be protected

  • Wendell Murray

    My fellow deer hunters,PLEASE spend more time learning how to SPELL.
    You make the rest of us sound ignorant.

    • Eric

      I agree

    • mikey

      thats funny and true

  • logan

    he is huge. to bad they dont grow this big in the wild..

  • jerry collinsworth

    they say this deer is worth a million dollars as a breeder

    • logan

      yea i heard that too.

  • Wendell Murray

    Really folks?
    This problem with spelling is not funny or cute.
    This is the 21st century.
    Have some pride in yourselves.

    • mikeflanders

      im with you 100%. how the hell do these retards even know how to use a computer?

  • merl

    nice deer. i say this deer needs to stay with his family!!!!!!

  • Langston Munn

    if i saw this deer i would passout.

  • KC Johnson

    for all you naysayers out there–bucks do grow this big in the wild. In late 1981 or early 1982 I picked up a
    road kill buck missing the left tine. He was warm and looked and felt his neck was broken. With the help of
    another passing motorist at 4:30am we loading this monster in the trunk to take to my cousin the butcher.
    In the blinding snowstorm I got lost. While turning around in the Behrend college driveway, now part of PA.
    college system, this buck fell out of trunk. 4 days later , the Pa. game commissioner rep on local nightly news
    was holding the head up, in front of the college stating, " This is the 3rd largest roadkill in Pa. history. The buck weighed 375 pounds! I had to laugh though because I picked it up on I-90 in New York state.

  • Johnny

    my biggest deer is 140! and im only 13 not too bad 4 old Idaho huh

  • Master Blaster 5

    My biggest buck is a 4 year old 12 inch spike buck. I had it mounted looks great!!!!!!!!!!!! Its a true Misssissippi river bottom skank buck supreme from Illinois.

  • Brian

    Being from wisconsin, I've seen and had the opportunity to shoot at and harvest some nice bucks. I have also missed a couple that made me sick to my stomach. For anyone to think that killing a deer that has been raised in captivity and shot by someone that pays a fee to do so is hunting, then I say to you you suck as a sportsman and don't desearve to call yourseolf one.

  • Frank miller

    I got a 547 class in canada last year an he weight almost 500lbs
    But congrats keep up the population lookin forward to huntin your dear
    When they get released

    • Jo Mama

      A 500 pound white tail bull crap

    • balls

      No such thing

    • cody

      you have got to have a mental disorder a 547 class whitetail are u sure it was a deer? I think you need to either think about your lie a little more, make it a little more reasonable or just shut the f$$k up.

  • sean


  • Chad Loudenback


  • Morgan

    Thats a great story, but that was 8 years ago, can you give me any new news what happened to the scum that had Goliath. Hope they had to spend time in prison and their deer herd taken from them.

  • BloMi

    Its no wonder people think hunters are dumb ignorant hillbillies. Prime examples in these comments

  • gaige

    what ever happed to the deer

  • T-dog

    I think he should keep the deer untill It dies of old age or something and just keep feeding It food that will make it's antlers grow even bigger!!!!!!!

  • j goff

    You people that say you have seen bigger that you would let him walk and to say he looks like bambi need to quit what ever your doing for your recreational high and get a real life he is a great animal let him live forever in the good hands of the owners

    • mikey

      if i seen that deer in the woods there would be no walkin hed be dead

  • M.J.

    I wish there was a better pic. Did the person shoot it? I would be shaking from buck fever if that came into my ground.

  • Kourtney White

    This would be a great deer but when they are pen raised they get ALOTTTT bigger than it would normally. To be honest that is how half he bucks got in record books. Let them live in the wild and stop striving for the bigger better buck. A real hunter can hunt the deer in the woods , not in a penned area where it has no where to run.

  • mikey

    thats about the ugliest deer ive ever seen big but uglie

  • Carter

    Thats a nice buck my record is 320 plus. I'm only 13.

  • james

    bet you i could get a bigger one in texas

  • james

    the one i can get is 4000 pound deer in texas bin there don that

  • boss

    like a boss

  • w.manning

    Wow I've seen some pathetic comments on here. He was an awesome animal. Glad you got him back before he died. As for some of the dipshit comments by so called sportsmen. You should consider selling any of your hunting accessories. And take up something that doesn't involve being in the woods. Leave it to real sportsmen,who enjoy and appreciate the true essence of hunting.

  • andrew

    that is a great deer one of thes days with genes like that and all of the food plots and minrel supluments we will have wild deer like that and even biger.

  • your mom

    half the people that commented are stupid rednecks that need to go back to the 1st grade and learn how to spell

  • corey

    im happy that they found the deer and for the robbers i hope they put them under the jail


    dang is that a deer with antlers or a few trees growing on its head

  • qdawg

    SHUT UP CITY SLICKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

  • deerhunter

    your a stupid idiot that has no brains,your a lousey bottom feeder with a big mouth,your a lame ass excuse of a person or the left overs, that should have kept running down someone's leg,can anybody keep their smart ass coments to their self,that was a nice story.

  • O Mack

    This is a fairy tail deer people talking about releasing this deer you don't know your head from your ass that deer wouldn't make it a week in the wild and you all need to get a life spraying bullshit everywhere I don't know where idiots like you all come from but allow me to say you all are some dumb son of a bitchs no wonder why I kill so many big deer there's dumb asses like you across the fence

  • R.A.M.

    Well let me say that the person from Canada is right about the size of deer in that country!!! The person from Wisconsin I have to tell you that a farm bought deer for their farm which ended up having waste Disease so that was a major mistake and the rest of you KEEP DREAMING!!!! Keep up the good work on the spelling!!! LOL

  • haden

    im going to rob that deer

  • haden

    its so big man i got a deer bigger than that one trust me



  • luke west

    it is a huge deer on staroids

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