Ground Shrinkage or Gain - Pack Giveaway

Photo contest

Founder

Founder Since 1999
Messages
11,421
We’ve all done it! Shot bucks that we thought were wider, or had more points, scored better, or maybe even surprised to the upside. We were off in our estimation of size.

Let’s see your pics and the short story behind the buck and how you were surprised to grab antlers and realize he was not as good, or better, than you thought.

You'll be in to WIN a nice daypack! Our friends at Bad Ass Outdoor Gear have got an Eberlestock Bandit to give away to one of you who contributes to the thread with a good photo or more, and a little about it.

We'll run the photo thread for a few weeks and then I'll randomly pick a winner. Each post with photo(s) shared will count as one entry and every 10 reactions that your post gets will get an extra entry.

Thanks to Bad Ass Outdoor Gear for donating the prizes for the contests and PLEASE everyone, when you're in the market to upgrade your gear, please shop Bad Ass Outdoor Gear and give them a chance to earn your business for good. They've got a large selection of hunting gear for you to look through.

Here's the prize that's up for grabs.

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I spotted this buck from a long ways off with my 10x binoculars and said in my mind that if I think that I’m seeing antlers then he must be a decent buck. After a long stock I was moving into my final position when I heard a doe blow above me that I did not see. The rest of the deer below me in the small canyon got up and started working towards the saddle. No buck in either of the groups moving towards the saddle. I had the gut feeling that he was still there so I held my group and after about twenty minutes I spotted him frozen behind a big bush. I set up for the shot and a few minutes late he made it one step in the clear from the bush and my trigger finger pulled. He was down and I waited about ten minutes before working my way over to him. There was about six inches of snow on the group so when I was walking up to him I started putting him together and at the final few yards from the buck I was excited in my mind to have killed a nice heavy 3x4. Then I pulled his antlers from the snow and got a good look at him and he had more points than I thought initially. Being a lone, fatigued, and a long ways in the backcountry I stated breaking the buck down right away and hanging meat. It was a late night and when I got back to camp I was dehydrated and sick. It did not sink in until later when I finally realized that I had killed a big buck. Lucky for me my hunting buddy’s realized it and got some pictures so I can share them with my kids. I love creating memories on every hunt I go on but this one is in my top five so far in my life. This one grew on me but most of the time I have ground shrinkage when I walk up on a buck. Fun topic and thanks for the fun forum.

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This buck snuck up behind me while I was glassing in Nevada. I heard him taking a leak and slowly stood up with my gun ready. We locked eyes at about 20 yards so I put him in the scope. He gave me only a couple seconds to judge and my initial reaction was to pass—it was the first 24 hours of a hunt in a top tier unit and I had almost 2 weeks to be there. I did see he had deep forks but was only at his ears.

Well he made a big bound to get off the side of the ridge and out of sight. I don’t even remember deciding to shoot him but when the crosshairs were behind his ear I pulled the trigger and piled him up.

First thought was dread that I had killed a small buck on the first day.

Walking up I could tell he had awesome mass and was definitely my biggest buck, but I still felt a pang of regret.

Measured him back in camp and realized he was a hair over 190” with 43” or so of mass! Just a fairly compact but exceptional buck. His ear to ear spread was 26” and his head and body were massive making his antlers look smaller than they are.

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Just last month on my sons late muzzleloader deer hunt we experienced the rare ground growth. What an amazing filling. The smile on my sons face when he looked down at the buck and looked at me and stated he sure didn't ground shrink, "Look at that mass".

My son passed on this buck twice on the 2nd morning of the hunt and we took numerous photos and video of him twice within a couple hours.

We looked at the photos and videos several times over the next several days and realized that due to the mass on this buck his antlers, points and width looked smaller then what it really was.

On day five of the hunt we seen this buck again and he was with several other bucks, with a couple being good 4x4's and he really stood out. We realized just before my son shot him that it was the buck we had photographed on day two.

This buck had the mass of deer I remember my Dad and my grandfather's killing 50 plus years ago.

This buck had it all. (Mass, good width, character, a 5 inch eye guard and just a great looking buck). I've held many a set of antlers in my hands and this buck is different, it just has much more noticeable weight to it. Passing this buck on day two worked out, due to us spending time taking photo's and video of this buck that my son will have to go along with his mount.

Always a good thing to realize you made a mistake on passing on a buck after you made up for it by tagging him before another hunter did.

What an amazing DYI hunt and time spent in gods country making lifetime memories my son and myself will never forget.

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Hasn't just happened once and if I'm still blessed enough to mule deer hunt I know it will happen again.

I glassed up this buck a little over a mile away. I told my brother he was the biggest typical mule deer I had ever had in my spotter. We made a move and jumped him at 20 yards and my brother gunned him down. A pretty 176 but no near where my imagination took me. Still a great time with family.

Lesson: Don't go in close intending to kill. Go in close intending to look close then kill.
 
This passed season, my daughter joined us on a hunt, but she was in a hurry to get back to work and wanted to shoot the first buck she could find. Found what she thought was a good 2x2, but walking up on it was awesome to see it was actually a great 3x3. Maybe not a lot of mass, but you can really appreciate the width on this buck.


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Watched this buck all summer. He was running with a couple giants and just didn’t get the attention the other bucks did. I passed several opportunities to stalk him and even passed a 34 yard shot opportunity. After that I thought he may be better than I was giving him credit for. Got lucky and killed him that night right at dark. Recovered him the following morning and he definitely grew when we walked up to him. 21.5” G2s 42 inches of mass added up to 188 6/8…my best buck to date at that time.
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The flip side. Got a little excited on coues this year. Spotted this buck at about 800 yards. Initial thought was he was pushing 90”. Cut the distance to 450 and was in kill mode and just never really looked close. When I walked up to him I realized I’d been off about 8 inches….not a ton but equivalent to mistaking a 165 Muley as a 180 🤦🏻‍♂️….still love him but probably not a 2nd day shooter .
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Last one with a twist. This years CO buck, we knew he was a good buck when we found him. When I shot him and walked up my initial thought was he was probably about 7-8” smaller than we had estimated from the video we’d got before the hunt. However my son kept saying he’s got a huge body and he’s gonna grow when cape him. That night back at the cabin he was proved right…when we caped him the first words my buddy said was he’s gonna be bigger than we thought. He not only hit our initial number from our video guess he actually beat it by 10”…..I wasn’t complaining at any point of that process tho.
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Just last month on my sons late muzzleloader deer hunt we experienced the rare ground growth. What an amazing filling. The smile on my sons face when he looked down at the buck and looked at me and stated he sure didn't ground shrink, "Look at that mass".

My son passed on this buck twice on the 2nd morning of the hunt and we took numerous photos and video of him twice within a couple hours.

We looked at the photos and videos several times over the next several days and realized that due to the mass on this buck his antlers, points and width looked smaller then what it really was.

On day five of the hunt we seen this buck again and he was with several other bucks, with a couple being good 4x4's and he really stood out. We realized just before my son shot him that it was the buck we had photographed on day two.

This buck had the mass of deer I remember my Dad and my grandfather's killing 50 plus years ago.

This buck had it all. (Mass, good width, character, a 5 inch eye guard and just a great looking buck). I've held many a set of antlers in my hands and this buck is different, it just has much more noticeable weight to it. Passing this buck on day two worked out, due to us spending time taking photo's and video of this buck that my son will have to go along with his mount.

Always a good thing to realize you made a mistake on passing on a buck after you made up for it by tagging him before another hunter did.

What an amazing DYI hunt and time spent in gods country making lifetime memories my son and myself will never forget.

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One of my fav bucks of the year!
 
Shot this bull that was running 20+ cows. Watched him rake a tree and all I got a good look at from 60 yards was his tops. He looked like he had huge tops at that distance and I decided to kill him. He only ended up scoring 282”, I thought he was a 300” bull while on his feet. He’s also like 44” wide which is wide for around here. All his points ended up being short, still a pretty bull just not as big as he looked.

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Shot this bull that was running 20+ cows. Watched him rake a tree and all I got a good look at from 60 yards was his tops. He looked like he had huge tops at that distance and I decided to kill him. He only ended up scoring 282”, I thought he was a 300” bull while on his feet. He’s also like 44” wide which is wide for around here. All his points ended up being short, still a pretty bull just not as big as he looked.

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Your in wrong category man.
 
First mule deer I ever killed. Broke as can be not too far outta college. Prior to this trip I’d never seen a mule deer in the wild. Always dreamed of “making it out west.” Grew up chasing whitetails.

Me and a buddy figure out how to draw a tag based on a patient gentleman that worked for G&F and walked us through applying. We stay in Buffalo, WY and pound the public not too far from town. Eat dinner and pound beers at the Winchester Steakhouse every night. Go to bed exhausted but can’t sleep for fear of oversleeping. We stayed in some collection of makeshift yard barns that some fella rented out.

We hunted the Powder River breaks. We put in 16 miles on foot. Only saw three bucks the entire time and this one was the biggest BY FAR. He was bedded in some shade across a canyon. Keep in mind I’d only ever looked at whitetails on the hoof.

I laid down prone and popped him.

Got over there to it—“THIS AIN’T THE BUCK I SHOT!” :ROFLMAO: I hadn’t been around many mulies but the gunshop in Buffalo we visited had some slammers on the wall—“this is what we came out here for” I told myself when we visited the shop day before season opened. Well, THIS wasn’t THAT.

Still chuckle about it all today. This trip lit a fire that hasn’t gone out. Luckily, I’ve upgraded some gear and managed to do a little better since then.

I will say, though. We had as much fun on this trip as we had on any since.

Fun thread. Thanks Founder.

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I got this buck on my trail camera in 2019. I remember asking people on this forum if they thought his G-4s would go 12". They looked pretty impressive to me.
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I ended up killing him on the opening day of the rifle hunt and I was shocked to see that his G-4s ended up a little over 16" long.
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This buck spotted me before I did him. Had to make a fairly quick decision. His face was towards me and I loved the overall height so decided he was the one. Front end disappointed a little when I got to him but I still really like his Euro on the wall. Definitely not the biggest but still really cool looking buck to me.
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I've shown this buck many times because it's my best Muley. He officially scored 201gross but I almost passed.
My son and I were hunting a (then) good unit in CO and since we planned to hunt the whole season I had passed on several 180+ bucks. On the 6th day we came upon this buck but his body seemed to dwarf his rack so we started to knit pick his rack like all the others. Then he decided to leave the does and I came to my senses and shot him. When he went down I was sick to my stomach because he just didn't look that big until we walked up to him. I was even more shocked when we put a tape on him.
 
My favorite story about ground growth comes from my "Uncle" Barlow Pace. Interestingly, he is related to me through the same line as my Uncle Melvin Ashton, who killed that giant 284" buck I posted about recently. I believe Barlow's story took place back in the 60s or 70s.

Barlow had an elk tag for Boulder Mountain, near his home in Loa, Utah. He was driving up the mountain with a friend when they got a flat tire. Barlow walked off a short distance to hunt while his friend changed the tire. He saw a bull elk walking through the thick trees and decided to shoot it. He was surprised to see how big it was, but old Barlow wasn't much for scores. Eventually somebody had it scored, and it measured just over 398". I was told it would have been the #2 Utah bull at that time, but he refused to enter it into the record books. I believe the antlers are still down in Loa somewhere at a sporting goods store.
 
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I jumped this buck in the middle of the week of the PA gun season walking out a goldenrod field. When he jumped up he was about 10 feet away from me. He took off running like a bat out of hell and he looked like he had an 18-20" spread......so I opened up on him. Caught up to him on the second of third shot and knocked him down.

Glad I killed him because he had a major wound on his hind quarter. He wasn't in good shape.

Needless to say, he didn't have a 20" spread.
 
These were both ground growth bucks. Well kinda.

Starting with the velvet buck, I had been watching a narrow really deep forked 4 point through the summer and had caught glimpses of the buck I ended up shooting. With the quick looks I saw of the one I ended up shooting we figured he was 160's and the other buck I was actually going to hunt we figured mid to upper 190's. Anyways opening day I snuck in on the deep forked buck bedded and was 60 yards from him along with a small 3x4. Dad was watching all of this from across the canyon. After 3 hours and at noon the big buck never stood up and all the sudden the buck I shot walked up to me at 30 yards just feeding with me standing in the wide open to him. I opted that 1 in the hand is better than 2 in the bush and shot him. Dad didn't know this buck had walked up and watched the deep fork buck run off and stop while im celebrating that I got him. All I hear from across the canyon is "you shot the wrong buck"! He thought I had shot the small 3x4 on accident haha. I called him and said the 160 walked right up to me and I decided to shoot. Can say it was a shock when we walked up to him and I pulled his head out of the brush. 160 turned into 184" haha. The you shot the wrong buck will always be funny though.

The tall hard horned deer was my.1st wyo buck. It was the 2nd to last day for the early rifle when we glassed him up. I looked at him from the side and said shooter and made my way up to where I could get a shot. The buck walked out and still only seeing him from the side and shot. The whack was a no doubt hit. I got back on him in the scope and now he was running right at me. That's when I saw his width and was like oh no.... At that point it was to late and I finished him off. I called dad and the 1st thing he says is he's really narrow haha. When I walked up to him he grew though and I decided the width didn't matter anymore and that bucks still one of my favorite I've ever shot at 20.5 inches wide with a 15" inside spread 😂.

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This buck really deceived me on the hoof because his frame appeared narrow and compact. I always looked for a big wide rack and hoped someday to reach that 30" mark. When I first saw this buck, he was looking at me and appeared to be inside his ears and 24" wide. Luckily, I'm not real picky and didn't hesitate to take him. When I walked up to him, I was impressed by the mass, especially on the top end. Even then, I just thought he was a nice 2' wide buck with some mass. I measured him when we got home and was very surprised at how big he actually is. I don't claim to be anything close to an official measurer but I should be within and inch or so overall.

My experience is like several others who have posted. All my best scoring bucks are 22"-26" wide. None of my bucks wider than 27" score over 160". -------SS
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My 3 biggest bucks all grew quite a bit once I walked up to them on the ground.

I thought this buck was a 170's buck when I killed him, luckily I had my cousin there to help talk me into shooting him, it was the second to last morning of the hunt. He ended up grossing 198 his fronts were much larger than I thought and I didn't even see two of the extras and the tripod extra was a lot bigger than I thought it was. If memory serves me right he had 13 or 14 inches of extras so even his frame was quite a bit bigger than I originally thought.
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Now here is one that went the other way. I had put a fair bit of pressure on myself for this hunt to not get to caught up in a score, I decided that a mature heavy horned buck would be good enough. The first night I spotted this buck from 350 yards standing with a group of doe's and yearling bucks. His body dwarfed all the other deer and he looked to have a wide super heavy rack i was thinking 30" wide. The mass really tripped my trigger and with light fading fast on the first night I decided to shoot him. I was completely surprised to find him in full velvet which made him look much heavier than he really was and really just not quite what I was hoping for lol. Still a good buck, 27" wide with testicle the size of shelled peanuts.
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He is still probably the largest bodied buck I have ever killed.

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This buck I got a quick look at from 500 yards away right at first light before he walked into the trees, I knew he had big forks but figured he was a 170's class buck. I snuck into the trees and got a quick shot at him in a gap in the thick stuff from around 80 yards. He grew substantially and ended up being a 192" 28" wide buck. Pretty good for general season.

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This buck doesn't really fit the ground "shrinkage" category but the story goes like this. I had drawn a 4th season CO tag and was looking for something special. We had scouted a deer that I would say was in the 180" range with some trash that had been frequenting the ridge that I killed this buck on. One day on the way back to camp we came around the corner near a spot that we use to glass and our area warden was set up with his spotter out. I got out to BS with him and he said that he had found our buck. After a quick look through the spotting scope, I told him that wasn't him. We bantered back and forth and he said "well hell Josh he's a 170" deer!" I laughed and said "I'll bet you $10 that he wont go 150". Well, long story short after some more banter he told me, "just go shoot him and send me a picture". So we did. It took quite a while to get over to where he was, we came in on top and kind of boogered him a little and he headed farther down the draw. When he stopped, I let the air out of him. We got to him and I told my buddy, "I knew it!" He wasn't what we were looking for not even close but it made for a hell of a good story. 6 hours later we made it back to the pickup with 4 quarters, head and antlers, earning this ridge the name "F*** You Hill" and I still ain't been paid yet!
 
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Tri makes a good point so I'll come clean. Here is my worst ground shrinkage buck. I was hunting the Wasatch East general unit for several days and hadn't seen anything but small two points. I glassed up a decent buck late in the afternoon and decided to move in closer for a better look. The buck looked wide and I could see 4 points on each side. I used a deep cut creek bed to move in directly below the buck. When I popped up, he was much closer than I thought and I glassed him up 100 yards above me with just his head sticking out of the sage looking at me. He bolted and gave me the famous going away look. I decided to shoot and followed him in my scope as he was bouncing through the sage. As he came through an opening, everything lined up and I pulled the trigger, watching him roll out of the scope. It was the first running shot I had taken in many years and I was pretty proud walking up the hill to the buck. When I got there, I was shocked at how small he was. His 22" wide rack looked big because his ears and head were so small. His ears only measured 19" tip to tip. His skull is 25% smaller than the average mature buck. Unfortunately, I had shot a 2 year old baby with awesome genetics, sporting 4 good points with a nice, flared out shape, good eye guards, and the start of a split G3 on his left side. I would love to see what he would have become in a couple years but the chances of him living that long were very slim. If I had known what he really was, I would have passed. If there was such thing as a Coues Mule Deer, I think they would look like this.------SS
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I have one that goes both ways. Me and my bro hunted Wyoming 2022 for the first time and came away with an incredible hunt overall. We hesitated shooting the big 3 point because he was "only" a 3 point but ended up being bigger than we thought. He taped out at 29 1/2" and had a huge body. My buck had some ground shrinkage as I thought he had good, deep forks and eye guards. I never put a tape on him but I bet he maaaybe scores 155-160. He is a respectable buck but looking back I wish I would've held out for something a bit bigger. You can tell the size difference of the two in the last photo. I wouldn't change anything in the world however for the experience we had in the backcountry!!
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I have one that goes both ways. Me and my bro hunted Wyoming 2022 for the first time and came away with an incredible hunt overall. We hesitated shooting the big 3 point because he was "only" a 3 point but ended up being bigger than we thought. He taped out at 29 1/2" and had a huge body. My buck had some ground shrinkage as I thought he had good, deep forks and eye guards. I never put a tape on him but I bet he maaaybe scores 155-160. He is a respectable buck but looking back I wish I would've held out for something a bit bigger. You can tell the size difference of the two in the last photo. I wouldn't change anything in the world however for the experience we had in the backcountry!!View attachment 134568View attachment 134569View attachment 134570View attachment 134571View attachment 134572
Love that big 3! A big frame on that boy
 
I have one that goes both ways. Me and my bro hunted Wyoming 2022 for the first time and came away with an incredible hunt overall. We hesitated shooting the big 3 point because he was "only" a 3 point but ended up being bigger than we thought. He taped out at 29 1/2" and had a huge body. My buck had some ground shrinkage as I thought he had good, deep forks and eye guards. I never put a tape on him but I bet he maaaybe scores 155-160. He is a respectable buck but looking back I wish I would've held out for something a bit bigger. You can tell the size difference of the two in the last photo. I wouldn't change anything in the world however for the experience we had in the backcountry!!View attachment 134568View attachment 134569View attachment 134570View attachment 134571View attachment 134572

I love big ol 3 points.
 
Here’s a ground shrinkage buck for ya.

Wyoming probably 8 years ago. Opening morning hunting where we had scouted some nice bucks the days before. It was a pumpkin patch opening morning and plans kind of went out the window with a bit of panic in the air!

About 9am after a ton of shooting, I spotted this buck bedded in a rock pile. His front fork and nose were the only visible parts, he was cross canyon about 700 yards away. I instantly decided SHOOTER!! And had that instant adrenaline rush (really had only seen his front fork). It was too far to shoot and there was no easy stalk to get closer or get a better look due to the terrain..

I decided to stalk him archery style and came up behind/above with the thermals in my favor, creeping along in my socks. I was about 30 yards from where I last saw him bedded. I caught some movement and a glimpse of him coming around a big boulder about 40 yards below me. I quickly sat down and shouldered my rifle, and we locked eyes. Only his head and neck were visible. I didn’t even look at the antlers…my brain had already decided he was a shooter! Blammm!! I put a bullet into his neck and down he went. It was a thrilling stalk but he was not one of the scouted bucks and definitely not a first day shooter..23.5” wide. But his front forks were sure nice 😂😂

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Yep, I'm in the group that loves big 3X3's.

Seen a couple scouting in Wyoming several years ago and told buddy I was with, he could have the 4X4 and I would take the 3X3 if they showed up during the hunt. No luck.

I actually bagged was one that I know was a great buck and wide, but would not turn its head side ways. Upon walking up on it we seen it was a 3X3. Surprised it was not a 4X4 or better, but not a let down. No ground shrinkage on him. I was impressed and always said I would take one like him standing next to a really good 4X4 anytime. A lot of hunters have great 4X4's, but fewer hunters have a great 3X3.

My son shot a great 3X3, a year ago on a very good hunting unit. We were see good bucks daily and he knew what his buck was before pulling the trigger and was very happy with it and never second guessed his decision.

Both bucks included.

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I was on my first deer hunt since being married. I had my new bride with me and saw this deer but did not get a good look at it as it was heading into trees. I did not think it was very big, but thought it might be decent. I told my bride this. She was so excited and begged me to shoot it. Now I am thinking she just wanted to be done hunting. We got a little closer to where I could tell it was the buck I had seen heading into the trees. I shot and dropped it where it stood. It was a lot smaller than I thought when we got up to it. It almost hurt to end the hunt with that deer. So I made her gut the deer and drag it out! Not really! My wife did hold the leg for me so I could gut it and she touched the antlers for a picture, but that is all the help she was! She still loves to bring this story up about talking me into shooting a small deer. Good memories and great eating.
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Here’s a ground shrinkage buck for ya.

Wyoming probably 8 years ago. Opening morning hunting where we had scouted some nice bucks the days before. It was a pumpkin patch opening morning and plans kind of went out the window with a bit of panic in the air!

About 9am after a ton of shooting, I spotted this buck bedded in a rock pile. His front fork and nose were the only visible parts, he was cross canyon about 700 yards away. I instantly decided SHOOTER!! And had that instant adrenaline rush (really had only seen his front fork). It was too far to shoot and there was no easy stalk to get closer or get a better look due to the terrain..

I decided to stalk him archery style and came up behind/above with the thermals in my favor, creeping along in my socks. I was about 30 yards from where I last saw him bedded. I caught some movement and a glimpse of him coming around a big boulder about 40 yards below me. I quickly sat down and shouldered my rifle, and we locked eyes. Only his head and neck were visible. I didn’t even look at the antlers…my brain had already decided he was a shooter! Blammm!! I put a bullet into his neck and down he went. It was a thrilling stalk but he was not one of the scouted bucks and definitely not a first day shooter..23.5” wide. But his front forks were sure nice 😂😂

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glad to know I am not the only one who doesn’t look at antlers on a shot, burnt me a little this year, but I think a way that it will for sure make me miss is if I focus on head gear
 
Yep, I'm in the group that loves big 3X3's.

Seen a couple scouting in Wyoming several years ago and told buddy I was with, he could have the 4X4 and I would take the 3X3 if they showed up during the hunt. No luck.

I actually bagged was one that I know was a great buck and wide, but would not turn its head side ways. Upon walking up on it we seen it was a 3X3. Surprised it was not a 4X4 or better, but not a let down. No ground shrinkage on him. I was impressed and always said I would take one like him standing next to a really good 4X4 anytime. A lot of hunters have great 4X4's, but fewer hunters have a great 3X3.

My son shot a great 3X3, a year ago on a very good hunting unit. We were see good bucks daily and he knew what his buck was before pulling the trigger and was very happy with it and never second guessed his decision.

Both bucks included.

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Smile bro. It ain’t that bad.
 
Here are some whiteys.

1st one this buck came in running hard chasing a doe. 2 other bucks were also on the chase. My time to judge was just a few seconds. I picked the best buck. I thought a solid 130 class. Well he clearly missed that mark.

2nd one rattled this guy in. All the time in the world. All I could focus on was his cheater. Once again ground shrinkage. I wasn't to butt hurt. Also had a 2nd buck tag and got the one I wanted

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Last UT general buck from about a decade ago I believe. Wife and son had tags on another unit. That left 1.5 days to hunt on my tag. Brother in law told me about a 170s buck he had been seeing during the hunt up high on a pine ridge. It was a decent hike in. I made it to my glassing point with an hr of light left. As light was fading on the season this buck stepped out at 400 yards exactly where my brother in law had told me . I didn’t even look that close , just thought that’s him and set up and shot…..obviously it was not him. Never been disappointed on a deers size, if you pull the trigger the animal should deserve your respect.
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What a bunch of jokers we got here!!

I've shot two bucks that grew (not over 160 though), most are just as small as I expected them to be. Did kill a bull that I scouted pretty hard and ground shrunk 15"ish inches by my guess and nearly 35"-40" from two other sources, who's opinions came highly regarded... Experts... lol

I woulda shot him anyway but walking up on a bull that might go 345-355 and seeing he clearly was not that, did at the time take just a bit of wind out of the sails of this fella... Happy as a clam now though!!
 
If you’ve hunted much you’ve definitely experienced the ground shrinkage game.

Here’s one of each.

I was hunting sagebrush and cedar flats where the deer were bedding, moving slow through a cedar draw. Jumped a deer and could instantly tell it was a buck that had deep forks. As he bounced through a couple openings on the thick cedars I got enough of a look to think he’s a giant deep forked four point, pulled the gun up in the last opening and waited, he came through and I shot and knocked him down. As I walked over to him 150 yards away I thought man he looked big running through the cedars… when I got to him he definitely had some ground shrinkage. He grossed 170 but I thought he was much bigger.

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The other one my brother spotted from along ways away and he said he’s an inline 5x5 180+. I was trying to get a good look at him before heading off to the death march of a mile and a half with 45 minutes of daylight left. He yelled at me he’s definitely over 180 and I took off without getting to confirm for myself. When I got to 400 yards and peaked over the ridge for the shot I already had it in my mind he was a shooter and took a Quick Look and said ya he’s big enough. Shot and he went down and headed over to take a look. This deer grew when I got to him, and he ended up being a 8x7 over 180 a ways. This seldomly ever happens.
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Thanks all for posting, fun to see everyone’s stories and success.
 
nrippi, unless those pictures arent doing the bottom buck justice Id shoot that first one over the second every day of the week
 
nrippi, unless those pictures arent doing the bottom buck justice Id shoot that first one over the second every day of the week
Me too! Maybe I wasn't clear, the first one grew 20 inches and is close to 200 and the 2nd one shrunk 20 inches and is closer to 160.
 
On my wife’s first deer hunt.. mind you she was in her 30s. She got a tag we ended up shooting at a buck we are certain it was hit so we headed into the wash where it ran. I found some tracks and started following it. I told her to stay up on the hill, a little out of the wash and watch ahead of me. She got quite a ways ahead of me, and I heard a gunshot. I worked my way up out of the wash I heard another gunshot And I found her standing there shaking and said she got it. She got it. It was laying down in a real sandy area of the wash. As we approach the deer. It appeared that it had no antlers. I said honey I think you just shot a doe. Are you sure you were shooting at a buck? She was certain she was. My guts were sick, Come to find out, it did only have one antler at the moment. However when the first shot was fired, it had two antlers so we figured that she shot one antler off and when it landed in the sandy soil, the other antler buried into the dirt and I couldn’t see it until I got up close to the deer. I was in panic mode thinking my wife just shot doe. But upon further review it did have a four-point side still attached on one side. I was relieved that it had “grown”an antler at all. We did later go back and find the other side. She did not shoot off the antler when the buck was first hit it and ran into the wash, it got tangled up in an old cattle fence and had busted the antler off. It must’ve landed extremely hard on his head.

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This story kind of has both:
I got this buck on my last day of hunting for the season. His head was behind a dead tree, but I kept catching glimpses of his antlers through the branches. I could see his mass and the dark color of his antlers so I had it in my head that he could be a pretty nice buck. He started to move further behind the tree, which was at the edge of some timber so I was afraid I wouldn't get another shot. If I wanted a buck that season, I needed to shoot immediately so I decided to take the gamble.

I'll admit, when I first walked up to him I kicked myself for shooting because he wasn't nearly as big as I was thinking he could be. But, was happy to fill the tag on a mature buck (antlers aside, his body was absolutely huge and I knew that before I shot) in a rapidly declining unit, and get some meat in the freezer.

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Fast forward a few months, I got the skull back and was pleasantly surprised. His rack looks a lot bigger when it's not on his giant body. Great character on his 3-point side too. Not a big buck by any means but a cool looking one that I still enjoy looking at on the wall almost daily :ROFLMAO:

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Last one with a twist. This years CO buck, we knew he was a good buck when we found him. When I shot him and walked up my initial thought was he was probably about 7-8” smaller than we had estimated from the video we’d got before the hunt. However my son kept saying he’s got a huge body and he’s gonna grow when cape him. That night back at the cabin he was proved right…when we caped him the first words my buddy said was he’s gonna be bigger than we thought. He not only hit our initial number from our video guess he actually beat it by 10”…..I wasn’t complaining at any point of that process tho.
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Last one with a twist. This years CO buck, we knew he was a good buck when we found him. When I shot him and walked up my initial thought was he was probably about 7-8” smaller than we had estimated from the video we’d got before the hunt. However my son kept saying he’s got a huge body and he’s gonna grow when cape him. That night back at the cabin he was proved right…when we caped him the first words my buddy said was he’s gonna be bigger than we thought. He not only hit our initial number from our video guess he actually beat it by 10”…..I wasn’t complaining at any point of that process tho.
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Dang Cody you were definitely wacking snd stacking them critters. Was the pic with the cabin is that you all’s place?
 
Funny me and the Wife years ago on Reg K in Wyoming seen what we thought was a doe and 2 fawns and kept looking around and when I got the scope out it was 3 4x4 bucks with what we thought was a high 180s buck after my wife got much closer and made a good 1 shot kill on video we ended her hunt with a mid 170s buck the biggest of the 3 that we thought was high 18ps to low 190s before ground shrinking!!

So it went both ways from a doe to a big buck to a decent buck.

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Funny me and the Wife years ago on Reg K in Wyoming seen what we thought was a doe and 2 fawns and kept looking around and when I got the scope out it was 3 4x4 bucks with what we thought was a high 180s buck after my wife got much closer and made a good 1 shot kill on video we ended her hunt with a mid 170s buck the biggest of the 3 that we thought was high 18ps to low 190s before ground shrinking!!

So it went both ways from a doe to a big buck to a decent buck.

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Great looking mature buck. Love it!
 
I know I've told this story before but this is the buck that really grew as I walked up to him. When I shot him I thought he was just another 22 inch 4X4. Instead, he was a 26 1/2 4X4 that weighed 306 lbs. field dressed. He was stretched out like an elk body wise. My first big buck. I measured him years later at 170. Back then it was all about width.

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Here he is hanging on the meat pole. Four quarters and the neck.

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I know I've told this story before but this is the buck that really grew as I walked up to him. When I shot him I thought he was just another 22 inch 4X4. Instead, he was a 26 1/2 4X4 that weighed 306 lbs. field dressed. He was stretched out like an elk body wise. My first big buck. I measured him years later at 170. Back then it was all about width.

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Here he is hanging on the meat pole. Four quarters and the neck.

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That’s like seeing Shaq and John Stockton standing next to each other.
 
This buck was just the opposite. When I jumped him he was with two other bucks, a 3 pointer and another 4 pointer. He just dwarfed the other 4X4 and looked like a monster to me. When I walked up to him I couldn't believe how small he was. Probably a 3 year old that dressed out at 150-160 lbs. He was 23 1/2 inches wide and years later, scored 163.

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This buck was killed the next year after killing the big Montana buck. I was a young guy still trying to figure big buck hunting out. Back then it was all about getting that 30 incher.

I killed this smaller buck in Wyoming. Back then if we wanted to hunt Wyoming, guys would get their apps. and money together and we would all chip in to fly a guy to Cheyanne to stand in line for the first come , first served licenses when the application date opened. I grew up in a small town in Northern California with alot of guys that hunted Wyoming.
 
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Here's a funny shrink grew story.

I glassed this deer up early in the morning. It was literally the first deer I saw that day. We watched him for close to 2 hours and put him to bed. While watching him we calculated his score as best we could. A little before lunch my brother arrowed him.

We were wrong all over the place. We had over guessed his mass. We had over guessed his spread. We had over guessed his g-2s. We had under guessed his extras, g-3s, and g-4s.

He ended up scoring almost exactly what we guessed when it all added together. 😅
 

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