By Gordon Whittington
Some world-class bucks don’t get their due mainly because of when they were shot. The spectacular Mitch Vakoch non-typical from northwestern Minnesota is a classic example.
Mitch was just 17 when he tagged this massive buck near the small Norman County town of Ada in November 1974. The hunter got his shot after someone else’s gunshot missed the monster and sent him running. As it turned out, the giant fled straight toward Mitch, whose 12-gauge slug dropped him. It was the hunter’s first deer!
With 43 scorable points and mass galore, the tight-racked trophy easily broke the state record with a net score of 268 5/8 - and that was despite nearly 30 inches of deductions for asymmetry on the typical frame. A left-side shed that later turned up under a shop workbench in the area scored 137 5/8, showing this deer also had been world-class for at least one previous season.
The Vakoch buck was among the world’s top handful of known non-typicals at the time, ranking comfortably in the Top 10 for B&C. But through no fault of the hunter or the buck, there wasn’t nearly as much fanfare as such a trophy would receive today. There obviously was no Internet then, and even the first issue of North American Whitetail was years in the future. By the time the magazine was founded, new giants with fresh stories were coming along. So despite the Minnesota buck’s obvious size and high ranking, this bruiser never got the attention afforded some other monsters.
Geographically, the kill site is near the epicenter of the trophy whitetail zone stretching from Ohio westward into southern Canada’s vast prairie region. Unfortunately, heavy hunting pressure and an overall lack of cover combine to reduce the number of monster bucks in much of Minnesota. But one look at the Vakoch buck should convince anyone that the potential for massive antlers is there.