Ohio Hunter Kills One of World's Biggest Whitetails

Records & Rarities
Ohio Hunter Kills One of World's Biggest Whitetails

A hunter in Ohio took down a massive 12-point whitetail in October of this year, and recently released scoring indicates it’s one for the record books.

Scorers with Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records (BTR) measured Jason Thomas’s enormous typical buck at 208 ⅝”, which makes it the new Buckmasters Ohio record holder in the Perfect category for all weapons and #2 behind the Huff buck. If confirmed by a panel of five judges later this year, Thomas’s buck would smash the previous Ohio state typical record of 201 ⅛” and fall to #3 in the world on the Boone & Crockett list.

“I could not believe that I was actually standing there looking at that deer,” Thomas told MeatEater. “To see just how big he was, I couldn’t believe it. He’s big in the pictures, but they don’t do the animal justice.”

The Chase

Thomas grew up hunting whitetail in north-central Ohio, and he’s taken several nice bucks over the years. But none were nearly as big as this one. Thomas told MeatEater he’d been watching this particular buck since the fall of 2021, when it was a big, mainframe eight-point. The buck lived on the farm where Thomas was hunting, and he saw it frequently on trail cameras.

The buck vanished from that property in 2022, but Thomas saw trail cam photos from a neighboring property, and he hoped the buck–now a “giant” nine-point–would make it through the season.

Thomas’s hopes were confirmed when, in August of this year, he spotted the buck on the hoof while hanging trail cams.

“I texted a buddy of mine and told him I’d seen a deer that could potentially contend for the state record. We were thinking maybe 190,” he said. “From there my obsession just kept growing.”

He secured permission to hunt from some neighboring landowners. When others wouldn’t give him hunting permission, he got permission to hang trail cameras or to glass. He was glassing the deer three or four nights a week, trying to pin down its movements and predict where it might go when it shed its velvet.

Thomas 2

One afternoon while knocking on doors, he saw the deer in someone's driveway. “I pull in the driveway to knock on somebody’s door, and there he is standing at 20 yards,” Thomas said. “I’m thinking to myself, somebody has got to be after this deer. Somebody has got to have seen this deer and has to be hunting it.”

As Thomas expected, the buck drastically reduced its movements after it shed its velvet. Thomas went from seeing the buck every night on his trail cams to seeing it twice a week to seeing it maybe once a week.

“I didn’t give up hope,” Thomas said. “I knew that October would come around and he’d potentially be in the area. I knew the deer was close.”

Archery season began on September 30, but the buck didn’t show itself. In fact, nearly four weeks went by without an in-person sighting and only a few trail cam photos.

“I had lost hope. I thought the deer had left,” Thomas remembers.

Then, on October 23, Thomas finally got a picture of the buck standing in his food plot during shooting hours. Then he got another photo the next day–and the next.

The Shot

On the morning of Saturday, October 28, Thomas headed out into the corn fields with his crossbow. Finally, after four weeks of hunting, he spotted the deer.

“It was like seeing a ghost. I’d seen the deer so much, I’d watched him for hours and hours and hours. But seeing him in the daylight during hunting season, and I’ve got a bow in my hands… Just sitting here telling the story, I’m getting buck fever again,” Thomas said.

He thought the deer might work its way towards him, but it bedded down several hundred yards from where Thomas was sitting. He knew the wind was about the shift, so he slipped out and went home.

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He studied where the buck had bedded down, and he developed a plan to get within range for a shot later that day. He belly crawled to a scrape along an irrigation waterway about 50 yards from where the buck was bedded because he hoped the animal would check the scrape after getting up.

Around 2:30 pm that afternoon, Thomas saw the enormous buck walking down the waterway, right towards him. When the buck stepped within 30 yards and turned to scratch its back, Thomas stood up and sighted down the scope.

“I was just getting ready to squeeze the trigger, and he turned and started walking right towards me,” Thomas said. “I’m watching his eyes in my scope, and he’s walking right at me, coming through the corn, closer and closer. I’m shaking, and my mind is going a million miles an hour.”

When the deer was within 15 or 20 yards, he stepped through the last row of corn and saw Thomas.

“He just kind of stood there with his head up. I was preparing for a chest shot, he’s getting ready to run,” Thomas remembers. “Right when I was getting ready to squeeze, he positioned himself to get ready to run, and I thought to myself, ‘As soon as he spins, I’ve got to shoot him.’ He spun, I squeezed the trigger, heard it hit him, and he took off.”

“All hell broke loose,” Thomas said. “I heard him mowing corn over, and I’m a wreck.”

He looked for blood but couldn’t find any, so he called a few of his friends for help. He knew that stamping through the corn would bump the buck if he was still alive, so they waited to start their search. Once they did, it didn’t take long to find blood. The buck was lying about 100 yards from where it had been shot.

“The shot was as perfect as you could imagine. Double lung, about three inches behind the shoulder,” Thomas said.

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"Think Outside the Box"

A five-judge panel of scorers from the Ohio DNR Big Buck Club, who are also Boone & Crockett scorers, will be scoring Thomas’s buck on December 30, 2023. Thomas says he’s confident the Buckmasters measurements are accurate, but nothing is official until Boone & Crockett puts tape to antler later this month.

Whatever the buck ends up scoring, it's the kind of once-in-a-lifetime animal most hunters only dream about bringing home. Thomas credits his success to his 20 years of deer hunting experience.

“A younger me would have sat in that tree stand all day or tried to shoot him while he’s in his bed,” he said. Instead, he slipped away so the deer wouldn’t wind him, and got creative to develop a solid ground hunting strategy.

“I’ve learned to think outside the box when it comes to these deer,” he said. “Be consistent, put in the work, but think outside the box if necessary.”

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