Just when you start to think the all-time benchmarks for white-tailed deer can’t get any taller, a remarkable buck with a really bizarre set of antlers comes along that blows away all the other whoppers before it.
Deer hunting’s latest freak show began playing out last November on a free-range stage located somewhere in Edgar County, Ill. That’s where bowhunter Luke Brewster used a compound bow to arrow a massive 38-point whitetail that experts believe may be the highest scoring non-typical buck ever taken by gun or bow in all of North America.
According to officials with country’s most recognized big game records organizations — the Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young Club — the enormous rack on the Brewster buck has been taped at 330 inches gross with a net score of 320 5/8.
The antlers were scored using the B&C scoring system, the most widely accepted scoring method for scoring white-tailed deer and other North American big game animals. Net scores on non-typicals take into account deductions for a lack of typical symmetry between the two antlers.
P&Y maintains the official registry for big game animals taken on open range using approved archery gear. B&C, meanwhile, recognizes trophies taken by all legal hunting methods, as well as animals that are found dead or picked up. Neither organization recognizes high fence big game in their records programs.
A Jan. 9 report from B&C says the net score on the Brewster Buck was tallied after the mandatory drying requirement followed by both clubs was met. Antlers must dry at room temperature for at least 60 days before measurements may be considered for entry in either awards program. Brewster shot the deer Nov. 2.
Antlers typically shrink a little during the two month drying process, but not much.
Interestingly, the B&C report says the dried score on the Brewster Buck actually went up compared to the “green” B&C score of 311 that accompanied photos that began circulating online shortly after the deer was shot more than three months ago.
It is not uncommon to see such scoring adjustments on non-typical antlers, especially those with significant amounts of abnormal growth. What one measurer sees in a rack the next may not. A single judgement call can cause a final score to rise or fall by a bundle.
As things sit now, B&C says the Brewster Buck could top the Stephen Tucker Buck as the biggest low fence non-typical whitetail ever taken by firearm or archery gear.
The Tucker Buck nets 312 B&C. It was shot in Sumner County, Tenn. in 2016.
Only two deer in B&C all-time records score higher, both designated as “picked-up trophies” that were found field.
The No. 1 B&C non-typical of all-time is the famous “Missouri Monarch,” which nets 333 7/8. The deer was found dead in 1981 in St. Louis County by deer hunter Dave Beckman. The buck reportedly had no teeth and is believed to have died of natural causes.
The No. 2 buck is the “Hole in the Horn” buck, which nets 328 2/8. That deer was found in 1940 near a railroad in Kent, OH. The buck was reportedly stuck beneath a chain-link fence surrounding the Ravenna Arsenal military facility when it was discovered by railroad workers.
B&C says the Brewster Buck is only the fifth hunter-taken non-typical exceeding 300 inches ever recorded. The buck has a gross typical frame of 151-5/8 with 178-3/8 inches of abnormal points, according to its 60-day dry score.
“To put Luke’s deer in perspective, this deer could surpass our current world record that has stood for 18 years by more than 20 inches,” said Eli Randall, P&Y director of Big Game Records.
The current P&Y record was arrowed in 2000 by Michael Beatty in Green County, Ohio. The deer nets 294.
Impressive as the Brewster Buck is, its status as a new P&Y non-typical world record won’t be official until the rack undergoes a special “panel judging” session conducted by a small group of expert B&C and P&Y measurers.
Any potential world record entry must undergo panel judging to ensure accuracy of the score and to evaluate any questionable judgement calls that may have been made during previous scorings. Think of it like going over a set of antlers with a fine tooth comb.The official panel judging session will likely be organized later this spring or summer, according to Ken Witt of Burleson.
Witt is a veteran Pope and Young Club and Boone and Crockett Club measurer. He has taped dozens of big bucks and panel judged several records over the years, including the Texas state record P&Y non-typical taken in 2012 in San Jacinto Co. by A.J. Downs of Conroe. Witt will be chairman of the Boone and Crockett panel judging committee at the 30th annual Big Game Awards Convention on Aug. 1-3 in Springfield, MO.
Well known for his expertise at evaluating big non-typicals, Witt has seen it all in panel judging sessions.
“I’ve seen scores go up and I’ve seen them go down,” he said. “I was on a panel once and we had a potential world record typical that came in with a score of 206. There had been a judgement error on that deer and the error had to be righted. The score dropped to 172 after panel judging. It happens.”
Witt has seen photographs of the Brewster Buck and called it a remarkable deer on every front.
“He’s outstanding,” Witt said. “I’m hopeful that the score hold up, but I wouldn’t endeavor to say it’s a world record just yet. Things could change once it gets in front of a panel.”
Time will tell.