Contact Matt Williams
It seems as though the element of surprise in white-tailed deer hunting never ends. Just when you think the all-time benchmarks for the majestic big game animals can’t be surpassed, a remarkable buck with a bizarre set of antlers comes along that blows away all the whoppers before it.
Deer hunting’s latest freak show played out in November on a free-range stage somewhere in Edgar County, Ill. That’s where bowhunter Luke Brewster arrowed a massive 38-point whitetail that experts are saying may be the highest-scoring non-typical buck taken by gun or bow in North America.
The enormous rack on the Brewster buck has been measured at 330 gross inches with a net score of 320 5/8, according to officials with the Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young Club.
The antlers were scored using the B&C system, the most widely accepted 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 said the net score on the Brewster buck was tallied after a mandatory 60-day drying requirement was met. 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 said the dried score on the Brewster buck is higher than the “green” B&C score of 311 that began circulating online shortly after the deer was shot three months ago.
It is not uncommon to see scoring adjustments on non-typical antlers, especially those with significant 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.
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 netted 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 in the field.
The No. 1 all-time B&C non-typical is the famous “Missouri Monarch,” which netted 333 7/8. The deer was found dead in 1981 in St. Louis County by hunter Dave Beckman. The buck reportedly had no teeth and is believed to have died of natural causes.
No. 2 is the “Hole in the Horn Buck”, which netted 328 2/8. That deer was found in 1940 near a railroad track in Kent, Ohio.
B&C said 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 netted 294.
The Brewster buck won’t officially be declared as a P&Y non-typical world record 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. The official panel judging session will likely be organized later this spring or in the summer, according to Ken Witt of Burleson, a veteran Pope and Young Club and Boone and Crockett Club measurer.
Witt has taped dozens of big bucks and has been a panel judge on several records over the years, including the Texas state record P&Y non-typical taken in 2012 in San Jacinto County 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 holds 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.