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Stephen Tucker

At the publishing of this article, Stephen Tucker held the pending Boone and Crockett world record for a non-typical whitetail deer. Stephen is from Gallatin, Tennessee. You can follow Stephen's hunting adventures on Instagram: @s_tucker1
stephen tucker and world record tucker buck

Non-Typical Days | What It’s Like Owning A World Record Buck

It was the second week of September, 2016. My uncle and I had just finished shelling corn in Sumner County, Tennessee.

While I was headed to the truck, my uncle called me and said, “Stephen look at this deer, he’s on your right. He is going to come out from behind the bushes right in front of you.”

I stopped, and the deer walked out, looking at me. I stared at him and could not believe what I was seeing. About 20 seconds went by and then he ran back into the thicket.

tucker buck trail cam pic
Trail cam pic of the Tucker Buck

Over the next couple months, I got some trail cam pictures of him. I had actually seen him twice while hunting.

Then, on November 7, after hunting him off and on, he walked out for the third and final time. But, before I tell you about the day I shot him, let me tell you a little bit about what happened leading up to that special day…

The Months Before The World Record Buck

The first time I had the opportunity to shoot this buck, things did not go the way I had planned. I had everything ready and had been mentally preparing myself for my chance at this buck. 

I saw him coming at about thirty yards away.  He stopped, and I decided this was it!

I called some of my family members to share the news, that it had in fact happened… I had shot “him”.

I went to fire my muzzle loader and… it misfired. I could not believe what had just happened. I thought, “Is this it? Did I just lose my chance? Would he ever show himself again?”

I decided I could not let that setback stop me.  All I could think about was having another chance at him. I couldn’t sleep or focus on too much after my misfire, but I knew I had to keep tabs on him and wait for another chance.

I had not told many people about this buck, but my family and close friends knew.  They kept telling me not to give up, and that he would show himself again. I just needed to be patient and wait. I continued to pray that I would get another chance.

So, then came the morning of November 7, and things started to change.  That morning everything went in my favor. He came out at forty yards after working a scrape. I told myself “you cannot mess this up!” All the while, I was shaking with nervous excitement. My adrenaline was pumping like never before.

A Magical Morning

I saw my chance and I took it. I shot him with my muzzle loader from my ground blind.  All I could see was smoke, and when it cleared, I saw him running back into the thicket. I could not believe I had been given the opportunity again. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, with excitement and a little bit of anxiety.

tucker buck world record buck
The Tucker Buck was harvested in Sumner County, Tennessee

I knew I was about to engage on my big search and I had to figure where he went. Then I called some of my family members to share the news, that it had in fact happened… I had shot “him”.

Within a few minutes some of my family and a few close friends came to the field to help me begin the search for him. Within thirty minutes, we had found him. A sense of relief and joy came over me, once I was able to lay eyes on him and touch him.

Although I was overjoyed, I still did not fully realize what I had killed. I just knew he was a giant and a special deer… at least special to me.

A Boone And Crockett Buck… And More

That night a TWRA officer that was a certified Boone and Crockett scorer, came and green scored him. We all waited with anticipation to see what this monster would score.  I thought I would be the new Tennessee record holder, but I had no idea what else was in store for me.

When the officer finished scoring, he told me that it would give the world record non-typical whitetail a run for its money.

Finally, they told me they had their final score. It was 312 inches. I was ecstatic!

During the following weeks, I became overwhelmed from all the phone calls, messages and companies that were contacting me. Everyone had an opinion about what I should do or not do.

I received a lot of backlash from animal rights advocates and others. I decided to take a break from social media and let things die down before I re-entered the social media playground. In the meantime, I gave many interviews and traveled a few places while waiting on the drying period to come to an end.

In January, the sixty-day drying period was over. I then traveled to the Tennessee TWRA office to have him scored.

I just remember waiting with my brother-in-law and nephew wondering what the score was going to be. Finally, they told me they had their final score. It was 312 inches. I could not believe it. I was ecstatic!

tucker buck official boone crockett score sheet
The Tucker Buck scored 312 inches Boone and Crockett

The Year After The World Record

The next year I went to nearly twenty shows. Now, I am just a farmer from Tennessee. I was not used to traveling that much, nor was I accustomed to all the attention. However, my appreciation for the outdoor industry grew after every event I went to.

I began to develop many wonderful relationships and grow friendships. Killing this buck also grew my relationship with the Lord. It even prompted me to make the greatest decision of becoming baptized. I also began travelling to speak at churches and wild game dinners.  These opportunities would have never been awarded to me had I not had the chance to take this deer.

Stop Hunting?

Many told me that I might as well stop hunting, because I would never be able to top it. They were wrong… it made me hunt even harder the next fall.

I was so nervous, that when I walked off stage, I knocked over Jimmy Houston’s fishing pole!

You see, to me it is not about the size of the buck. Now, don’t get me wrong I love big deer, but what I love more is figuring them out.

Being able to take a world record whitetail made me look at deer hunting in a different way; not just how I look at hunting for myself, but for others as well. No matter what size a deer is, if it makes you excited or happy, I’m going to be just as happy and excited as you are about him.

Another Year, More Opportunities

The 2017-2018 season came and went with no buck being shot that was close to mine. In 2018, I went to many more shows and speaking engagements.

At one of the appearances, I had to speak in front of 3,000 people at a church’s wild game dinner. I was so nervous, that when I walked off the stage, I knocked over Jimmy Houston’s fishing pole!

During the summer of 2018, I scouted harder than ever before. By November, I had already tagged out in my home state with a bow.

A Challenger Rises Up

On November 1, 2018, I was scrolling on my Instagram and saw a giant buck on a page that I follow. I thought, yeah maybe it could be bigger, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t heard many conversations about it.

Then in January 2019, I was on the way to the ATA show in Louisville, Kentucky. I knew that deer would be there and had heard the score would be released. To be honest, I was worried about it, because I wanted my deer’s score to remain number one.

I won’t lie, I was upset. But hey, records are made to be broken. So, I decided to make the best of it.

A New World Record?

I was about an hour from the show and a buddy called me and said North American Whitetail just went live on Facebook. While I was on the phone with him, they announced that the Illinois buck’s net score was 320″.

I won’t lie, I was upset. But hey, records are made to be broken. So, I decided to make the best of it.  

I met the guy that shot the new pending record and he seemed like a great guy. He was also a Veteran, so I couldn’t think of someone more deserving.

We will both take our record bucks to be scored this summer at the Boone and Crockett Big Game Awards. That is when we will both find out what our final scores are and will be given our ranking.

Looking Back

The two years following my world record buck were a whirlwind. So many great things have happened in my life as a result of harvesting this once-in-a-lifetime buck.  Whether or not I remain the number one record-holder, I will always have a buck over 300 inches… from Tennessee.

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to kill the “Tucker Buck”.

stephen tucker with world record tucker buck
The Tucker Buck officially scored 312 inches, breaking the world record for a non-typical whitetail deer.

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