Matt Ford: 219-Inch Illinois Giant

Matt Ford: 219-Inch Illinois Giant

Matt Ford_001

Hunter: Matt Ford

State/County: Illinois/Knox County

Score: 219 1/8 Green score


Gear Used: PSE Super-G, PSE arrows and NAP Thunderhead broadheads


Western Illinois is renowned for its whitetail hunting; Pike County itself is heralded as a sort of Whitetail Mecca.

But there are some beasts lurking a little farther north too--just ask 24-year-old Matt Ford.

Ford, a native of Abingdon, Ill., said he was late getting out to his stand on the evening of Nov. 4 with his step-father, Chance Ray, getting out to hunt at around 3:30 p.m. The duo decided to hit one of Ray's spots closer to town, with Ford taking a stand that he said has been known in the past to be a hotspot in the rut.

He wasn't in the stand long before this 20-point monster showed up.


"I just got in the stand and was putting my rattle pack up and grunt calls," Ford said, adding that after only 10 minutes, he heard what sounded like antlers hitting a tree trunk. Sure enough, he turned around to see the buck of a lifetime about 60 yards away walking toward him.

"I was able to get up and turned around, and waited for him to walk in the shooting hole," Ford said. "What seemed to be 25 yards was really 35 yards; I shot right under him."

Matt-Ford_002A missed opportunity, but luckily it only brought the buck closer, trotting in about 15 yards closer to Ford, who managed to grab another arrow — this one finding its target.


"When he took off, he seemed to not have much arrow in, but he went 80 yards and died," Ford said. "Waiting on him, I was sick to my stomach thinking I didn't get a good shot. When he took off, he pushed arrow back out and didn't look like I was going to find him. The shot ending up being great; I got the heart and one lung."

Then came the waiting.

"After that, I tried to call [Ray] and he had no phone on him, so I had a long sit in stand for two-and-a-half hours wondering if he was dead," Ford said.

The wait was worth it, however, and Ford now has a trophy many hunters only dream about.

"I still can't believe it. I thought my 145-inch 8-point was big until this," Ford said. "I never thought I would see a deer this big, but getting to kill one this big never crossed my mind."

Ford's monster scored a whopping 219 1/8 inches green with 8 1/8 and 7 3/8 bases.

Kyle Heuerman

Any serious whitetail hunter knows that it's not often that we get a second chance on the buck of a lifetime, or even a first chance for that matter. But luck was on the side of Kyle Heuerman and his girlfriend Jennifer Weaver when they put an arrow through this 196-inch Illinois brute.

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Joe Franz

We estimate he was 7 1/2 years old. That's based on photos from 2010, when he clearly wasn't over 3 1/2. When I got him he weighed over 300 pounds on the hoof, as suspected. Official B&C measurer Glen Salow came up with a 'green ' gross score of 258 7/8 inches. After the 60-day drying period, he again taped the rack. This time he got a gross non-typical score of 261 3/8, with a net of 230 7/8. The gross score evidently makes this the highest-scoring wild whitetail ever harvested on professional video.

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Jon Massie

Jon's no stranger to free-ranging whitetails across the central plains, having guided a number of clients to trophies and harvesting many big ones himself. In fact, going into 2013 he'd shot two net Boone & Crocketts: one a non-typical scoring over 200, the other a typical from public land. With such success behind him, Jon felt all of his hunting dreams already had come true. At least, he did until a buck he'd never seen showed up on one of his trail cameras.

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Tom Boyer

Knowing I couldn't even come to my knees without breaking the little concealment we had, I decided to lie on my left side, using my left elbow for as solid a rest as could be achieved within the slight incline of the old fencerow. But when I shouldered the rifle, the sight of the crosshairs oriented at a 10-4 o'clock angle was definitely a different look from the normal 12-6 position we all practice from. Even so, I didn't figure that would matter if I aimed at the right spot and squeezed off a clean shot. I settled the crosshairs where I needed to place the bullet and steadied the rifle. Whispering 'fire in the hole ' while floating the crosshairs on the spot, I gently squeezed the trigger until the recoil removed the buck from my view.

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Teddy's Buck

With a whopping 40 inches of non-typical growth, he has a gross Boone & Crockett score of 215 3/8. The rack's 21 6/8-inch inside spread certainly helps to show off its unique character. He was just a special deer, and very much a result of patience in both management and hunting.

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Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan was only 19 when, during the 2013 season, he arrowed an Arkansas buck of gigantic proportions. Like many of his fellow Arkansans, Ryan is a deer and duck fanatic. For several years, however, he gave up most of his duck season to lock horns with the world-class buck.

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Junior Key

Junior's outstanding whitetail is the biggest ever recorded from Monroe County, and he ranks as one of the Bluegrass State's top bucks from the 2013-14 season. This great non-typical also is the latest member of Kentucky's all-time Top 30 list.

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Mikell Fries

At 16 yards, Mikell took aim at the giant and released his arrow. In an instant, the shaft had passed through him. The deer instantly whirled and ran out of sight . . . but then, within seconds the archer heard him crash to the ground. 'I remained in the stand for several minutes to gather my thoughts and calm down, ' Mikell says. 'I'm sure the entire encounter only took a few minutes, but it seemed an eternity. '

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Bill Robinson

Three double-digit tines of 10 2/8 to 13 5/8 inches, plus 7 1/8- and 9 3/8-inch brows and a 21 3/8-inch inside spread, add plenty to this regal crown. Put everything together and you have a gross 9-point frame score of 193 6/8. That's as big as it sounds.

Typical asymmetry and 11 6/8 inches of abnormal points total 25 1/8 inches of deductions, so as a typical, the deer nets 'only ' 168 5/8. But the 8×5 rack's total gross score of 205 4/8 is much more reflective of its stunning size. Regardless of score, the Robinson buck is clearly a marvel of nature.

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Nick Drake

The action was fast and furious right from the get-go. At daybreak a doe busted through the cedar thicket with an eight-point suitor following close behind. The doe, however, wanted nothing to do with her pursuer and jumped into a nearby pond in an attempt to flee the buck. This, however, wasn't the last of the action. Nick continued to watch several bucks harass does throughout the morning, but chose not to take a shot at them.

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