It’s been a crazy 12-month period for Oklahoma whitetail enthusiasts with two massive 250-class non-typical bucks being recently added to the parade of Sooner State big deer.
Call it Bedlam Part II, the deer hunting version of Oklahoma’s annual gridiron dustup between the college football playoff bound Oklahoma Sooners and their cross-state rivals, the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Why the bedlam reference here? Because the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word bedlam as “…a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion.”
And that’s exactly what comes to mind in recent days as news has broken of not one, but two, massive non-typical Sooner State bucks heading for the upper reaches of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Cy Curtis big game awards program.
As you might recall, one of those deer was a huge pick-up buck — a giant non-typical whitetail and potential state record that was discovered dead and hung in a Le Flore County, Okla. barbed wire fence on Nov. 26, 2017.
That buck, found on a farmer’s land by neighboring hunters Josh Hughes and Drake Fletcher, has been described as a 6 ½-year-old buck with 21 points on the right side and 26 points on the left side. After veteran Boone and Crockett Club measurer (and frequent Game and Fish and North American Whitetail magazine contributor) George Moore put a tape to the buck, the green score numbers check in at 269 2/8-inches gross and 259 6/8-inches net.
Around the same time as news of the huge Le Flore County pick-up buck began to circulate around the Sooner State, news also broke of another massive non-typical, this time a monster buck taken in Logan County by hunter Steven Everett.
Everett’s buck – a 28-pointer that he had hunted for three seasons — fell to a well-placed rifle shot on Nov. 18, 2017 as the Edmond-area hunter waited in a Redneck blind on his Logan County farm.
The buck is world-class massive, featuring green B&C scores from Moore of 255-inches gross and 246-inches net. Despite three-inches of broken antler, the Everett buck seems destined to become one of the top two or three bucks ever recorded in Oklahoma’s growing whitetail hunting history.
Amazingly, the 37-year old Everett notes that the fact he was able to tag the buck is a great blessing that almost didn’t happen to him.
“People in my area couldn’t believe it (when news about Goliath began to spread) and I found out (other) people had been hunting him for 8-10 years,” said Everett. “They had countess trail cam pics (that) they Facebook messaged me and one guy (even) said his brother shot at him with a muzzle loader five years ago and they found hair but no blood.
“That’s how close I was to not be able to (tell) this story!” he added. “He was a legend in the area and people had pics of him over two-miles away. He only came on my land October through January (each year) and then would disappear.
“I had nightmares of the neighbors shooting him, but I knew he was smart and I never talked about him to anyone around there.”
If all of that isn’t amazing enough, consider that maybe the closest that anyone came to actually tagging Goliath prior to Everett’s fateful November day came from the man that is nearest to the hunter’s heart.
“My dad (Johnnie) passed on the deer at about 25 yards a week earlier because he knew how hard I worked to get this deer,” said Everett. “That’s a pretty good dad!”
Indeed, it is — all deer hunters should be so fortunate!
Keep in mind that as impressive as these two huge 250-caliber Booner bucks may be over the last few weeks, they are only the latest entries in a long line of huge Oklahoma whitetails that have been taken by hunters – or recovered by state officials – since November 2016.
In case you aren’t up to date on the recent Sooner State’s big buck stampede, consider that first up in this run was a Nov. 10, 2016 giant bow buck taken by Cleveland County archer Jeffrey Parker of Moore, Okla. That huge non-typical, featuring 16-by-21 points on a 4-by-4 main frame, was net scored by ODWC Cy Curtis officials at 245 5/8-inches.
Just two days later on Nov. 12, 2016, Lawton archer and U.S. Army sergeant Jeff Ocker took his own giant bow buck while hunting on ground open to hunting at Ft. Sill, Okla. That huge white-tailed deer, which has 19-by-9 points on a 5-by-5 main frame, was given a net-score of 245 2/8-inches by ODWC officials.
Both giant 2016 non-typical bow bucks fell just below the Sooner State’s Cy Curtis benchmark buck, Michael Crossland’s giant Tillman County buck taken back in 2004. That huge non-typical gun kill features a net score of 248 6/8-inches and remains the top non-typical whitetail in the ODWC program.
To make all of this a bit more complicated, don’t forget the Bill Foster buck, Oklahoma’s second-highest scoring non-typical buck of all-time. That buck – taken north of Lake Texoma in Johnston County back in 1970 – has a net Boone and Crockett Club score of 247 2/8-inches, good enough for a #104 ranking in the most recent B&C whitetail record book.
Why is the Foster buck not listed in ODWC’s Cy Curtis program? For some reason, Foster never chose to have the huge buck entered into the Cy Curtis program, which was established in 1972 to honor the man that helped whitetails rebound across Oklahoma.
(Editor’s Note: Today, in addition to recognizing trophy whitetails taken across the state, the ODWC Cy Curtis program also recognizes trophy Oklahoma mule deer, elk, antelope and black bear as well as the hunters who have harvested them.)
This year, as the current stretch of various hunting seasons prepared to arrive in Oklahoma, the big buck machine cranked into overdrive early as news came of a huge non-typical buck being run over by a car near Edmond. That buck is reported to have scored around 234-inches on the Boone and Crockett’s scoring scale.
Since then, big bucks seem to have been falling across the Sooner State on a regular basis during the 2017-18 versions of the Oklahoma archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearms seasons.
In fact, according to longtime Oklahoman newspaper outdoors writer Ed Godfrey, as many as 15 non-typical bucks scoring north of 200-inches (the Boone and Crockett Club’s non-typical record book minimum is 195-inches, for the record) have been scored by B&C measurer Moore so far this year.
How impressive is that? The veteran OKC newspaper writer Godfrey notes in a recent story that Moore says he only scored four such 200+ bucks last year!
Out of the 15 Booner bucks bigger than 200-inches, Moore said that 13 have been taken by hunters. The other two include the Edmond roadkill buck from late September 2017 and the recent late November 2017 pick-up buck from Le Flore County.
If you’ve been following along, we’ve reported on a number of those bucks including two monster Pontotoc County bucks taken by one hunter from the same stand, a huge Coal County muzzleloader non-typical deer nicknamed Megatron, and a massive muzzleloader non-typical near Lawton dubbed the “Boomer Buck.”
Why such an unprecedented rush of big bucks from Oklahoma’s mixture of land that includes rolling mountains and hills, river bottoms and ravines, woodlots, and prairie uplands?
In a recent interview with ODWC big game biologist Dallas Barber, the head deer man in the Sooner State indicated that the state’s habitat has benefitted from recent rains, finally recovering from searing drought a few years ago.
Add in the good whitetail genetics that Oklahoma possesses along with the state’s hunters buying into ODWC’s management philosophy (“Hunters in the know let young bucks grow!”) and the result is a big buck rush reminiscent of the land-rush that began the Sooner State more than a century ago.
“Since we began this push back around 2013, we’re now starting to see the results,” said Barber. “A lot of our hunters are managing their own farms, talking to their neighbors, and in general, having something to do with all of it (deer management).”
With a few weeks of deer hunting left to go in the Sooner State — Oklahoma’s archery season continues through Jan. 15 — and other reports of big bucks circulating through e-mail, social media and the rumor mill, don’t be surprised if there turns out to be even more “Stop the presses!” big buck news for the state lying north of the Red River.
Because as of now, the state of Oklahoma seems to not only be ground zero in the college football world, it also seems to have the market cornered on big whitetails too!