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Mike Moran: 180-Inch Saskatchewan Beast

Mike-Moran_001

Hunter: Mike Moran

Province: Saskatchewan

Score: 180 inches


Gear: Remington 7400 .30-06, Nikon Monarch scope, Winchester Supreme Accubond 180-grain bullets, Cabelas outerwear, Cabelas Saskatchewan PAC Boots, Little Hotties Warmers chemical packs


Can lightning strike twice?

That thought passed through the mind of Michigan native Mike Moran as he passed on what he'd deemed a shootable eight-pointer during a Thanksgiving hunt in the Saskatchewan wilderness.

With history on his side — he had previously taken a 138-inch 12-pointer, a 159-inch 12-pointer and a 167-inch 16-pointer on past hunts — Moran headed back up to "the Land of the Giants" to try his luck again with Grant Kuypers of Buck Paradise Outfitters.

His guide, Ty Selk, mentioned two big bucks in the area: "Splits," named for his two large, V-shaped split brows, and another elusive buck nicknamed "Kickers," a chocolate-colored monarch that had been scouted for three years without a determinable pattern.


Mike-Moran_003"If you had to draw in your mind the ultimate dream, 'Kickers' was the reality of this vision," Moran said.

Starting four weeks into the season, Moran headed out at 4 a.m. the first day and was welcomed by a 140-145-class eight-pointer; he was definitely a shooter, but Moran decided to pass with bigger goals on his mind.

The second day, he said, was uneventful, with one six-point, a spike and plenty of does, but no trophies.


On the third day — Thanksgiving Day — Moran headed out to the stand in the bitter cold, with temperatures dropping to -15 degrees Celsius, determined to bring back a trophy.

"The sacrifice of missing the holiday with my family was also part of the equation in my obsession," Moran said.

After passing on yet another good-looking eight-pointer — and wondering again whether it was a mistake — Moran said a nice, wide buck soon limped into his field of vision around noon. "Splits," he thought.

"I raised my weapon, focused on my scope, and I thought, it's time for business," he said. "No time to videotape, no time for pictures, no time for a profile shot; what would I do when faced with the biggest buck of my life?"

After letting the buck take about four steps, Moran fired a bullet from his Remington 7400 .30-06 right into the buck's brisket. The buck didn't take another step before dropping flat.

With his adrenaline pumping, Moran rushed in to inspect, but was surprised to discover while this buck indeed had a split brow, he didn't have two, and he was much bigger than "Splits"; it was that ghost of a buck, "Kickers."

"Only in a dream I could write a better tale, but this time it was reality," Moran said. "Nothing worthwhile or of tremendous value has ever come easy in my life. This is no exception, but the dream did come true and I am forever satisfied after hunting since age 14 and 27 years in the field. The time was now," he said.

"This buck has it all just like the drawing of the school kid characture buck and it was mine."

Mike-Moran_002

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.

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.

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