World Record Buck: The Tony Lovstuen Buck

world record buck - Tony Lovstuen Buck
Tony Lovstuen with his world record deer that was shot from a ground blind on a trail that cousin Mark Murphy scouted out using trail cameras. It is questionable whether Tony ever would have gotten a shot at this buck without the effort that Mark Murphy put in pattering the buck with cameras.

One amazing aspect of the hunt for the world record buck, the Tony Lovstuen Buck (shot in 2003 by Tony Lovstuen) is the overwhelming number of photos the three men who hunted the deer the hardest were able to get with their trail cameras. Doug Lovstuen (Tony’s father), Mark Murphy and Steve Angran used trail cameras to take literally hundreds of photos of the buck. Never has one big buck been documented or followed like this one – not even close.

In Iowa, where Tony shot the world record buck, it is legal to bait deer as long as you don’t hunt over it. Pouring a pail of corn ten feet in front of an infrared triggered camera is the easiest way to get photos of nearly every deer in your hunting area. Many of the photos will come at night, but still you can find out what is there.

The three cousins have a huge library of images taken of the buck over corn piles, but that didn’t necessarily help them to hunt the buck. Just because they could pull him to a certain spot to feed didn’t mean they knew the buck’s patterns. What would happen when they stopped baiting him leading up to the season? To learn that, they would need to remove the bait and start trying to catch the buck’s natural movements.

“We were getting pretty close to patterning him in 2002,” Doug said. “We could find him by camera almost any time we wanted.”

world record buck - Tony Lovstuen Buck
Believe it or not, this is an actual trail camera photo of the Lovstuen Buck hunter shot world record during the summer before Tony Lovstuen shot the deer. Can you imagine finding this on your trail camera?

“We left him alone more that year,” Steve Angran added. “As we got to know his area and where he lived we pretty much left him untouched. He was spending most of his time in a side hill draw with CRP on both sides. There were just two draws and two little hills where he liked to live.”

“By the end of 2002, we pretty well knew these locations,” said Doug. “I could have taken you to either one of those two draws and we’s push him out of one or the other – almost any day. The buck wasn’t hunted hard that year. He didn’t seem to travel far, so we were really starting to nail his pattern down. We left him alone as much as we could.

“His range shrunk more and more each year that we hunted him,” agreed Steve. “The first year I hunted him he was ranging pretty wide, but then it got smaller and smaller.”

“I’m not sure if it was because he got older and changed or if it was the hunting pressure on the other farms,” offered Doug. “Because as everyone started coming in all around us trying to get a crack at the deer, we started backing out. We checked cameras at the same time every day. That was the only pressure he had except when we were hunting, and even then we were very careful how we went in and where we hunted. I don’t think he intended to stay close to one spot. I think people forced him to use a smaller range.

“We had to stop baiting because we weren’t patterning the deer. Instead, we were bringing him to us. That wasn’t teaching us anything about where he traveled. Instead, we started to put our trail cameras on trails. Sometimes we would just drive a fence post in the ground in an open field and slap a trail camera on it. We were starting to catch him on trails in the summer of 2002, but it was spotty then. We got a lot better at it in 2003. We used our cameras better and learned which trails he liked and when.”

Deer camera photos eventually led directly to the spot where Tony shot the buck. In fact, Mark Murphy had the buck pegged by late September of 2003, a drought year. The buck was working toward water most evenings after rising from his bed, and Mark knew which trails he used most often. Tony shot the buck along one of these routes on the fifth evening of hunting him.

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