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Deer thrive there, and there's enough cover and space that bucks can grow old. It may be surprising that the classic southeastern counties aren't ranked No. But the Southeast comes on strong at positions 3, 4 and 5. Houston County 44 bucks , Fillmore County 42 bucks , and Winona County 35 bucks are the players there.
Those are relatively small to average-sized counties, and so they are truly over-represented with big bucks. Wabasha County ranks No. At the No. With a respectable 33 bucks, there is no doubt the country around Long Prairie is prime for big whitetails. Aitkin County sneaks in at No. It's too far east to be considered a prairie transition county, Aitkin contains a mix of farmland coming up from the south and encroaching into big woods.
Aitkin has deep woods and wetlands, giving bucks a chance to grow old. A north-central county, Itasca, comes in at No. These are big-woods, big-buck areas, where the forage might not be best little farmland is available and the winters tough, but whitetails have plenty of room to hide from hunters. Beltrami County eases in at No.
Heading south, we see Morrison County at No. Morrison is another of those central "mix" counties with farmlands and forest, prime real estate for both numbers of deer and the chance to grow big bucks.
Most of our counties are represented in the record book. Simply put, respectable bucks — a trophy in your record book — can come from any corner of our state.
Here are some recommendations on our best bets for big bucks. As the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area continues to expand, more whitetails will come under protection from gun hunting by county and municipal ordinance. That will expand the number of big, old bucks. You may have to hunt with bow and arrow, but the studs are there. In particular, look to the western Minneapolis suburbs and exurban areas in Hennepin County, the southwest suburbs down in Carver County, especially the Minnesota River country, and the northeast metro, from Blaine and Anoka County on over to Scandia in Washington County.
All those areas have plenty of deer, and big bucks.
This five-county area is all carved from a similar mode: prairie-farmland transition, with lots of woods and wetlands, an almost ideal mix of cover. This is a great area for volume of deer, but it's also where a lot of our big bucks are from. Wadena County is producing nice bucks these days, especially in the Pope and Young ranks.
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Becker, especially the eastern half of the county, is prime as well. If you're looking for seclusion coupled with big-buck potential, you're not likely to beat St. Louis County. There is no doubt this is the No. But hunting there is a real challenge. It's not the kind of country where you'll see a dozen deer a day. A few deer a day is good, and a few deer every few days more common. With its footprint expanding, the St. Cloud area is poised to become a big-buck hotspot. This has always been good deer country, and with less gun pressure due to the settlements, bucks are going to get their chance to grow.
Stearns, Sherburne and Benton counties will produce some big bucks in the next few years. This area has lots of farmland and so the forage is good, but there is plenty of cover. Here's a bold prediction: Douglas and Pope counties are going to grow into their big-buck potential. The areas already produce record-book bucks. Douglas ranks high in Pope and Young entries, and Pope has a whopping 19 Boone and Crockett bucks to its credit. This is good farmland mix country, and the bucks have the right genes for growing big.
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It's fairly open country, but winters are a notch milder there vs. The Southeast is going to continue producing some of Minnesota's biggest and best bucks, in volume. That's not breaking news, so we mention it last. But don't overlook Olmsted and Goodhue counties when thinking about the Southeast's big bucks.
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These two counties have similar potential to Wabasha, Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties. In fact, Goodhue produced 17 Boone and Crocket bucks and counting. In the end, a trophy deer is what you define it.
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The only record book that makes a difference is your own. Downs Over his years of chasing whitetails, A. Downs of Conroe, Texas, has taken a number of big bucks with his bow. But none of the other mounts in his trophy room can match the size, or the meaning, of the freak whitetail that fell to his arrow shortly after daylight on opening day of the archery season.
Bill Ulrich Thirty-five years of bowhunting have taught Bill Ullrich a few things about chasing whitetails. This was definitely my finest moment in the treestand. Over his years of chasing whitetails, A. Bill Ulrich. Thirty-five years of bowhunting have taught Bill Ullrich a few things about chasing whitetails. Several seasons ago, Bill had made up his mind to take off work early to spend an afternoon in the woods, and he knew exactly which tree he was headed for that afternoon.
Bill Winke. Bill Winke has earned himself a spot as one of the best Midwestern whitetail hunters of all time with this massive double G4 Iowa giant. Bo Russell.
The huge Iowa non-typical Bo Russell took is testimony to the rewards of smart scouting and hard work. Not to mention being adaptable enough to overcome some outside interference — including a crew of archeologists! That made him the second-largest bow kill entered from the season. Brian Hollands. On a fateful morning two seasons ago, Hollands not only found a lost little girl wandering the back roads of Missouri, he also found the buck of a lifetime.
Brian Herron. Dan Daigle. Dean Partridge.