In March of 2009, a young man named Adam Jordison approached me at the Iowa Deer Classic. Adam had found the remains of a giant buck he had hunted for three seasons. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but the instant Adam walked through the door with the bone-white rack, 20 some-odd measurers cranked their heads around and stopped what they were doing. Little did any of us know then, but that deer would become known as the “Heartbreaker Buck” and would rank among the largest whitetails ever found in North America. If Boone & Crockett accepts the 272 3/8-inch score, it will fall just beneath the world famous “Missouri Monarch” and the “Hole-In-The-Horn”buck from Ohio.
“Second only to deer hunting, I’m addicted to shed hunting,” Adam explained. “While in college, I’d go home in February and March to hunt for sheds. In most instances, I’d take a friend along. In 2006, it was my college roommate, Zach.
“Zach and I had been out a couple of hours when something caught my attention shinning in the sunlight. Zach started in that direction and I followed. As we got closer, I realized it was an antler. And a nice one too! It was the left side of a big non-typical, and the first I’d ever found.
“We spent the next four hours combing the property and hadn’t found any other sheds. It was getting late, and I had one more spot to check. I remembered seeing an old log near a fence that had a spot hollowed out on the ground, which appeared to be the bedding area of something big.
“When we got close enough to see the log, I spotted an antler and made a beeline toward it. It turned out to be another huge non-typical, this time a right antler with 11 points and a drop tine. I thought to myself, this is incredible. To find two enormous non-typical sheds was hard to believe. When I compared the bases and brow tines of the sheds, it was evident they were from the same buck, but we found them more than a mile apart.
“I was pretty excited and rushed over to Dad’s workplace to show him the antlers. We both agreed they were a matched set. Over the years, neither of us had ever seen a non-typical on the property, much less shot one.
“Since we didn’t know whether the deer lived on the property, we didn’t move our stands or change hunting strategy much that fall. I saw quite a few nice bucks, but never laid eyes on the non-typical, and neither did Dad.
“I hunted several days during the 2007 season but again hadn’t seen any sign of the deer. However, while driving down the road one afternoon in November, I caught a glimpse of a deer that looked like it had non-typical antlers. I quickly turned around and went back for another look, but the deer had vanished.
“Dad spent approximately three weeks bowhunting that fall and didn’t see the deer either. However, he had a similar experience to mine. In almost the same location, he spotted a non-typical from the road. No doubt, in both our minds, we wanted to think it was the same non-typical to which my sheds belonged, but neither of us could be certain.
“In March of 2008, I took the 2005 sheds to the Iowa Deer Classic and entered them in the shed competition. I stopped by the booth on occasion to see where the sheds stood in the overall rankings. Late in the afternoon, one of the measurers pointed out a non-typical shed that had been brought in that scored in the 120s. As I looked closer, I realized it was from the same deer. When comparing the score to the 2005 shed, it was amazing to see that the deer had gained 30 inches in one year. Ironically, it was our neighbor, Chad, who found the buck’s 2006 shed in the spring of 2007. I took first place in the matched set category with a score of 203 inches (without a spread), and Chad took first place in the single shed category.”
“Coaching football during the 2008 season, I didn’t get out much in November,” Adam said. “However, I had planned to take a week off after ball season. The much anticipated week came in late December, just after the shotgun season had closed and archery reopened.
“I planned on spending one day scouting, and then hunt the following day. There was still snow on the ground, so there wasn’t any problem finding trails, beds and tracks. As I scouted and mentally logged the sign, I spotted something along the field edge. At first it looked like a pile of brush, but as I got closer, I realized it was the remains of a deer. The antlers were frozen to the ground. I searched for clues that would tell the cause of death, but the hide was frozen beneath the snow and ice. The rack was bleached out from the sun. Minus a few insects inside, the skull was completely clean. It was obvious the deer had been there for a while. It was puzzling to me to see that the antlers hadn’t been chewed on by rodents.
“Realizing what I had found, I called Polk County, Iowa DNR officer Craig Lonneman to ask about the legality of putting my archery tag on the antlers. He told me it was legal, and said if I needed anything else to give him a call. Knowing that, I gladly tagged the rack and called it in.
“I called a friend, Travis, who had more experience with
sheds and asked him to come over and compare the sheds with the antlers. It was ‘heartbreaking’ when Travis pointed out the similarities and confirmed the remains were from the buck we had been hunting for three seasons.
“In March of 2009, I took the antlers to the Iowa Deer Classic in Des Moines to have it officially measured. The antlers drew a lot of attention over the next two hours. In the end, the buck netted 272 3/8 inches and was estimated at 6 1/2 years old.
“Considering the condition of the antlers and the fact that it was found near water, many of the experts at the Classic felt the buck had fallen victim to “Blue Tongue” and died shortly after velvet shed in 2007.”
“A few months later, my friend, Jessie who was working at Scheels sporting goods, told me about a guy who stopped in to buy a tree stand and started talking about a monster buck that he had been hunting and and that “some kid” had found dead. That kid happened to be me! He also said that he had trail camera pictures of the deer too! Unfortunately, Jessie didn’t get the guy’s name.
“In March of 2010, I took the mount to the Iowa Deer Classic to put it on display. Jessie was working a booth at the Classic, and he called me to tell me the same guy that had been at Scheels had stopped by the booth. Jessie said the man’s name was Stan Pearson, and he had his number.
“As promised, Stan showed me more than 15 trail camera pictures of the deer from December 2006 and the summer of 2007, when he was in velvet. Three people were hunting the same world-class deer, but none of us was aware of that.”
At press time, Adam was in the process of submitting the score sheet to Boone & Crockett. If the score is accepted, it’s very likely “The Heartbreaker Buck” will become the third-largest non-typical ever found in North America. For information on purchasing replicas of this deer, visit www.artisticantlers.com.