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B&C’s County Search Tool Can Help You Find Your Next Trophy

How do some hunters always seem to find the big ones? Guides and fancy tags are one way, but there’s another, less expensive option thanks to the Boone and Crockett Club. 

Ohio archery hunter Brandon Clark harvested this record-book typical whitetail during the 2018 season. Ohio is currently one of the top states for record-book whitetails.

Because you’re reading this at the Boone and Crockett Club’s website, we assume you’re familiar with the records-keeping system. While it may seem like just a list of hunters who killed something really big, it’s a whole lot more. Namely, the records are a scientific tool used to track the successes and failures of wildlife management for 30 species of North American big game. That’s why the Boone and Crockett's current scoring system was created in 1950, and that’s why it exists today. 

The records are also a tool that you can use to help narrow down your search and identify the healthiest wildlife populations around North America. Translated for hunters, this means those places that produce seriously large antlers, heads, and horns. If you’re into that sort of thing, why not let the records help you in your search? 

"...your secret spot is safe because the Club will not publicly list anything more specific than the county."

As part of the Boone and Crockett Club’s record verification process, a hunter must list, as precisely as possible, where the animal was taken. "We want every entry to have the most precise harvest or find location as possible," says Justin Spring, the Club's director of big game records. "But your secret spot is safe because the Club will not publicly list anything more specific than the county."

Savvy hunters can use this county data to help them focus on areas that may have healthier populations, and thus, bigger heads, antlers and horns. Once you find a top trophy-producing county, you can then key in on units within that county. 

Why bother with using County Search yourself? For starters, this is where other sources such as magazines, websites and tag services get their intel. Then, they write articles and tell their clients about the hotspots. By then, the secret is out. Why not get a few years of hunting the honey holes before the tags are even more impossible to draw?  

Keep in Mind

Animal populations change because of predation, weather, management and numerous other variables, so hunters should look at the previous five, sometimes 10, years-worth of data for a particular category. What may have been a great county for entries in the 1990s may not be a great county today.  

This Kentucky non-typical was taken during the 2020 season by Claire M. Flood in Breckingridge County. Kentucky continues to rank as one of the top states for record-book whitetails.

A good way to use the county search is to narrow down areas that are not producing entries as well. If your favorite hunting area close to home is within a county that isn’t producing big animals, at least you can temper your expectations. And a key question to ask yourself (and wildlife managers) is why isn't the area close to home producing many record entries. Perhaps it's more of an "opportunity" area or maybe there are other factors, such as invasive weeds or prolonged drought. Whatever the reason, it's good to be informed. If you're not satisfied, talk to your fish and game managers to learn more. 

How Does County Search Work? 

It all starts with a subscription to Big Game Records LIVE. For $50, you get access to the entire Boone and Crockett record system, including Classic Trophy Search, County Search, Trophy Combinator and the Method Visualizer OR or become a B&C Associate to get it for $40. For this article, we’re focusing on how to scout with the County Search tool. 

For our example, let’s say you’re on the hunt for a record-book whitetail. On the County Search page, you’ll see two kinds of search options: a State/County Search and a Top County Visualizer. Let’s start with the State/County search tool at the top. 

Species selector.
Select a kill date range from 1830 to 2021.

In the Species search bar, select typical whitetail deer and non-typical whitetail deer. Click Apply. Leave the State/Province search bar blank. For the Date of Kill Range, adjust the slider so it reads 2015-2020 and click Apply. 

Prefer a chart? Use the new County Visualizer.

The table will reveal an alphabetical list of states. To get them in descending order, scroll over to the “Number of Trophies Count” bar and click your mouse. You’ll find four states with more than 200 entries. When you click on the arrow next to the state, you’ll see a list of counties populate underneath, and you’ll see that one county has 19 entries. The next step is to investigate that state’s hunting regulations, unit breakdowns and tag options available for that area. 

If numbers aren’t exactly your thing or perhaps you like more visual elements, scroll down to the Top County Visualizer and enter in the same search criteria, including the state that you now know has the most entries for whitetails between 2015 and 2020.  

Here’s a fun fact: much of the same scouting info can be found in the Boone and Crockett Club’s latest book, Records of North American Whitetail Deer, Sixth Edition. With that book and the County Search tool, you can spend many a wintry evening planning your next fall hunt. 

Big Game Records - LIVE!

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt