Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Did this 51-point Illinois buck deer break the national record?

By Grant Olsen, Contributor | Posted - Dec 13th, 2018 @ 5:47pm

JOHNSTON CITY, Illinois — Keith Szablewski is relatively new to deer hunting, but the 51-point buck he shot during this year’s shotgun season may end up breaking the national record for most countable points.

Szablewski’s first hunting encounters with deer came while he was targeting waterfowl in his youth, according to ABC News.

"When I started putting out geese decoys, there would always be deer running around the field," Szablewski told ABC News. "I never hunted deer. There were always deer running around the decoys."

Four years ago, Szablewski shifted gears and decided to try deer hunting. He’s harvested a few bucks since that time, but they were nothing to write home about. So when this giant whitetail buck approached his tree stand during his November hunt, he knew it was special and waited for a clean shot.

“The only window I had was a 12-by-12-square-foot opening that I could see clearly on his neck,” he told RFD Today. “I could have shot through the leaves to hit his body, but I’m not going to do that.”

A couple of impressed conservation officers later informed Szablewski that his buck was about 9 years old and weighed roughly 265 pounds. Also, it possibly had as many as 51 scoreable points. That would easily best the previous record, a 47-point whitetail buck deer shot by Stephen Tucker in 2016.

“A hunter in Williamson County could be in the running for one of the largest bucks ever shot in America,” the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced on its official Facebook page. Accompanying the post is a photo of the massive deer.

Szablewski plans to take his potentially record-breaking buck to the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo next summer so an expert panel of judges can officially score the deer. In the meantime, he plans to have the deer mounted and will donate the meat to needy members of his community.

Grant Olsen

About the Author: Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen joined the contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book “Rhino Trouble.” You can contact him at

Grant Olsen

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