Skip to main content

Michael Erickson Buck: 189-Inch Iowa Monster

Michael Erickson Buck: 189-Inch Iowa Monster

I have been gripped by a passion for hunting whitetails since 1984 when my high school band teacher invited me to hunt with him that fall. He gave me a damaged compound bow and some finger tabs. I bought some camouflage and some arrows. Our second trip out I shot a doe with the first arrow I had ever sent toward a deer.

I have been hooked ever since. I spent the next 27 years putting in some serious effort to bag a true trophy. In my mind, a buck scoring in the 170s would make a lifetime of hunting complete.

As the many seasons came and went, I began to think I was never going to bag such a trophy. I wasn't without reward during those years; I've shot my share of bucks between 135 and 160 inches. However, after nearly three decades with a number of close encounters and a couple of missed shots on 170- to 180-class deer, I started to believe a deer of this class may elude me forever. That was OK, and I accepted the fact that it just doesn't happen for everyone. But I kept trying just the same, and I began to look for other ways to make the hunts challenging, exciting and rewarding through the things I could control.

What I couldn't do was make a big buck stand in front of me to get shot. So I looked at what I could do. There were several things I did to create that challenge and excitement. One year I practiced diligently to take a deer with my bow at 50 yards. I ended up killing a doe at 67 yards.

After reading much about it, I knew smokeless muzzleloading was for me. I bought a Savage ML11 muzzleloader. I spent a couple years tweaking it and finally took a deer at 304 yards.

After a couple of encounters with an 180-inch deer — including a clean miss with my bow — I decided to try shooting left-handed. This was for the times a buck would come to my weak side and I was unable to turn to get a right-handed shot. Since then, I've taken several does shooting a right-handed bow left-handed.

The next endeavor wasn't so much a personal challenge as a new direction for me and my new hunting buddies — my children Lizzy and Devin. Youth season hunts in Iowa with my son and daughter have been the most rewarding hunts I've been on. My daughter got her first buck when she was 9 years old and my son when he was 5. Now they are 10 and 15 and have each taken several nice bucks. My daughter will admit she is the lucky one. She shot a 150-inch buck opening day one youth season, and last year she took a 167-inch 10-pointer that I should not have passed on.

The beginning of the story for me and this tremendous buck was when I saw him about 10 days prior. I took my son out during the second shotgun season using his youth tag. Youth tags are good for all gun seasons in Iowa. It's a great policy so kids can keep hunting if they are unsuccessful during youth season.

Earlier in the year, I somewhat regrettably made my son pass on about a 150-inch 10-pointer because it was too young and he already has one at about the 140-class. This 10-pointer was perfect, with way more potential than 150. And I have become a stickler about not shooting young bucks with potential. That decision may have led to this giant.

So during second shotgun season, using my Remington 700ML, my son and I went out several times. One day we had a southwest wind, so I decided to hunt an area where we had seen deer feeding in the field. We needed a south wind of some sort to do it.

On our very first hunt in that field, with about 15 minutes of shooting light left, I saw a big body heading toward the rest of the deer and could see a nice rack through the timber. I told Devin to get his gun up and ready. I knew this buck was mature enough and had a good rack. When he cleared the timber and I could get my Nikon binoculars on him, I said, "Oh my gosh, a 180-inch 9-pointer!"

The buck made a path toward a few other deer and stopped broadside! I quickly grabbed my Bushnell Elite and ranged him at 112 yards. I told Devin to get the crosshairs on him!


We spent the next two minutes trying to get Devin steady. He was just a bit too short to have a solid rest. It was breezy and the does in the field were spooky. I was worried we weren't going to have enough time to ensure Devin had good shot. Sure enough, two does flipped up their tails and headed in. The big guy picked up his head and decided to go with them. Our heads sunk. The buck never came back out during the few minutes of light we had left.

Still, we made the right decision. That was going to be a long shot for my 9-year-old, even though I know the gun can easily do it. I was very proud of Devin for not taking the shot. It was in his hands. The safety was off. He knew it wasn't right, even at age 9. We went back two more times. This giant didn't get the invitation, apparently.

Late muzzleloader season rolled in a few days later. This was the type of season that makes late muzzleloader fanatics stay home. It was warm and windy. No one shoots big bucks with south winds and 45-degree days right? I hit that spot two times. I didn't see the big boy, but I was not discouraged. There had been no pressure and this buck should have no reason to leave.

The third time was a charm. I was watching a smaller buck way off with a couple of does. They were angling toward me and hit the timber. I watched the spot where I thought they would emerge back into the field and join a few does at 100 yards from me. Some time had passed so I figured they must have kept going through the timber.

At about the same time Devin and I had seen the big buck, with only 15 minutes of shooting light left, I saw some deer coming through the timber. One of them was a buck. They were heading right where I expected the earlier group to emerge. This group was different though. This group had a big buck with them. I pulled up the Nikon binoculars and started to feel the adrenaline push into my veins. It was the huge 9 pointer!

I had the same conditions, southwest wind at 18 mph, 45 degrees, and the deer were spooky again from the wind. Exactly like the last time I saw him with Devin. The giant entered the field about 200 yards away, heading right at me. He stopped at 108 yards to feed but he was facing me, and I needed to relax away the adrenaline dump. I did something that comes with maturity.

I quit looking at the monster that stood well within my shooting range and looked down, relaxed all muscles and took five deep breaths. I was steady and pretty calm. I got him in the scope and held solid on him, waiting for him to give me a broadside shot. He wouldn't. I did the calculations to hit the vitals at this angle and held there waiting for a broadside shot. A thought went through my head that probably sealed the deal. I said to myself, "If one white flag goes up, take him where he stands."

Seconds later, three or four flags went up, and the does headed for the timber. I looked back in the scope and my buck's head was still down. I was on him solid. I squeezed. After the shot, I stayed on the scope. I couldn't find him. So I looked up, trying to see a rack running with the rest. I saw four deer but no rack. It was toward the end of shooting light, but I could see approximately where the whole group hit the timber.

Since there was still some ambient light, I got down quickly to check for blood. I went to where he stood when I shot. No blood. I checked the trails going into the timber. No blood. So, I snuck back to my stand, grabbed my stuff and took a wide route out of there. With no blood trail, experience told me to look in the morning.

You would think I was in for a sleepless night. I managed five hours. Sleep was not difficult with an 108-yard shot. The shot was solid. I took a friend to help me look for him the next morning. We spread out and went south, then swung around and worked back north. On the way back north, I replayed last night in my mind, and it seemed logical he was with the few deer that went east and north. I actually started smiling to myself as we worked our way north because it made sense to me that that was where he went. I knew we would find him.

Indeed! I spotted him about 80 yards away, and for the second time in my life I approached a downed deer and it got bigger instead of smaller. For a second time, no ground shrinkage!

When I got to him, there was no blood. Not even where he lay. The bullet went in through the left scapula and I found it just under the skin where a belly button would be. With 2,250 fps muzzle velocity using a 300-grain Barnes Original, I didn't think any animal in Iowa could hold my bullet at 108 yards. He sure did. We looked him over pretty good and took some field photos on the spot. I knew with the kickers and splits he was easily 180 inches.

We grabbed my Land Rover and loaded him up. I took him out to another friend who has a hanging rail with a scale built in. I hadn't field dressed him yet. He weighed 252 pounds. After we weighed him, more friends showed up. One of them who does a bit of measuring asked if I was going to score it. I said, "Someday I suppose."

"Not right now?" he asked.

I said, "You can if you want." So he did. The calculator was up to 188 and we hadn't even started on the non-typical points! I was truly surprised when he came up with a gross of 204! Yet this was just a green score using a string. I knew once it could be officially scored, that number would likely change.

His overall score is no mystery when you look him over with measurements in hand. This buck lacks nothing. He has good tine length and a decent inside spread. Then when you add in the exceptional measurements of 29- and 29 2/8-inch main beams and a whopping 42 inches of mass, along with 18 7/8 of non-typical points, he nets 189 7/8 non-typical inches! A real giant!

All of the close encounters and a few missed shots finally paid off. The knowledge, experience and maturity that comes from hunting whitetails for 27 years were "dues paid." And my fading dreams of bagging a 170-inch deer were smashed by this true buck of a lifetime.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. ' Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

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. Read the full story.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Ripcord Arrow Rests Rejuvenates Lineup with Three New Models

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Don't Sleep on Conventional Trail Cameras

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Browning Trail Cameras Announces Cellular Innovation for 2024

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

ATA 2024 Core SR First Look from Bowtech

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Browning OVIX Camo: Ultimate Concealment for Any Time, Any Place

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Air Venturi Avenge-X Classic PCP Air Rifle Reviewed

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Primos Edge Carbon Fiber Tripod Shooting Sticks

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Bowhunting Aoudad in Texas with Browning OVIX Camo

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Bowtech CP30: A Better Bow Made For The Whitetailer

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Browning's Exclusive OVIX Camo Gives You Complete Concealment

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Year-Round Deer Scouting with Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Cams

There are few things that get North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock more fired up than chasing early season bucks wit...

Early Fall Tactics for Big Ultimate Season Bucks

North American Whitetail Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top North American Whitetail stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now