LOUISVILLE, KY — In what is being described as nothing less than a huge earthquake in the deer hunting world, the much-anticipated 60-day entry score of Luke Brewster’s massive Illinois non-typical whitetail was officially announced today at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, site of the 2019 Archery Trade Association trade show.
In a 10 a.m. gathering at the Outdoor Sportsman Group booth, the carefully guarded secret was made public by Brewster, North American Whitetail magazine editor Gordon Whittington, and NAW associate editor Haynes Shelton. The stunning numbers of the Nov. 2018 bow killed buck raised eyebrows everywhere as the Brewster Buck quickly became the talk of Day One at the ATA Show.
Whittington, who first learned of the Brewster buck as he hunted and filmed an episode of NAW TV for Sportsman Channel, said that’s very understandable when you consider the massive rack of Brewster’s mindboggling buck.
“Within 28 hours of the buck’s harvest, I was shown field photos of Luke with the deer,” said Whittington. “My immediate reaction was, ‘That really looks like a new world record.’ Nothing happening since then caused me to waver from my initial reaction. Of course, until a rack is officially measured you can’t be sure what the tape will say, but this rack scores as big as it looks.”
While many deer suffer from the malady known as ground shrinkage, that has never been the case with the Brewster buck according to Whittington. In fact, just the opposite has actually occurred as the story has unfolded and the official 60-day entry score numbers have been secured.
“As soon as I saw the first two profile photos of the rack, I knew this deer was one of the best whitetails ever taken by bow,” said Whittington, the longtime editor of NAW magazine and a fixture on the NAW television show. “He turned out to be even bigger than that.”
Indeed. In fact, after 60-day measurements were obtained by official measurers a few days ago, the Brewster buck has a gross score of 330 0/8 inches and a net score of 320 5/8 inches. Those figures position the buck for world record status as both the top non-typical bow kill of all-time and the top hunter harvested whitetail of all-time.
“Well, Brewster’s Illinois buck has bested by more than 20 inches Mike Beatty’s 294-inch Pope & Young non-typical archery world record, taken in 2000 in Ohio,” said Shelton. “Stephen Tucker’s 312-inch Boone & Crockett hunter-killed non-typical record, taken in 2016 in Tennessee, also has been dethroned.”
To put all of that into context, both Whittington and Shelton point out that only two other deer in history are recorded as being bigger than the Brewster buck.
“In history, only two free-range whitetails exist with bigger non-typical racks than Luke Brewster’s deer,” said Shelton. “The first of those is the famous Hole in the Horn buck, which measures 328 2/8 B&C and was found dead on a railroad in Kent, Ohio in 1940. The next is the Missouri Monarch, a buck that was found dead in 1981 near St. Louis and scores 333 7/8 B&C. Obviously, all of these bucks are incredible specimens that deserve our respect and admiration. I’m just thrilled that we can celebrate another one being added to the list.”
For Whittington, whose legendary NAW editing career has included coverage of stories detailing some of history’s best bucks — including the Beatty Buck non-typical in 2000, the Milo Hanson B&C world record typical buck in 1993, the Tony Lovstuen “Walking World Record” non-typical buck in 2003, and the Tucker Buck non-typical whitetail in 2016 — the Brewster buck may be the most impressive whitetail of them all.
“The Brewster buck is an all-timer, period,” said Whittington. “Not just according to the tape measure, but by his majestic overall look. He’s huge and unique. The term “mega-giant” is perhaps overused, but it totally fits this deer. We live in an era of selectively bred, well-fed whitetails living out their lives in captivity, which has resulted in some freakishly large racks. But remember: This buck achieved his immense size and score as a free-ranging native animal.”
For Whittington, the Thursday announcement of the Brewster Buck’s 60-day entry score helps to nearly complete a long process that began back before Thanksgiving Day. That process could be completed later this year with possible panel scoring efforts for the Brewster buck.
“Details of panel scoring haven’t yet been fully outlined, but we’re hopeful that happens soon,” said Whittington. “Both the Boone & Crockett Club and the Pope & Young Club have panel judging sessions set for later this year. It’s quite possible we’ll have final approved numbers this summer.”
For Shelton, keeping the news under wraps until Thursday morning was one of the more arduous and nerve wracking tasks of his own career at NAW.
“As always, when November 2018 rolled around I had my eyes and ears peeled for news of big deer hitting the ground,” said Shelton. “But when photos of Luke Brewster’s Illinois buck started to emerge on social media, other newsworthy deer took a back seat. I was on edge waiting for an official entry score.”
So was Whittington as he worked to reel in the exclusive story of Brewster and his legendary whitetail buck.
“Learning about a recently taken trophy buck and coordinating coverage with the hunter is always interesting, and it takes more help than people might think,” he said. “In this case, mutual friend Adam Crumrin helped Luke and me connect. After that, a plan to publish the story and photos came together quickly. As always, we at North American Whitetail feel privileged to have the opportunity to break such exciting trophy news to the deer world.”
To hear Whittington talk of the Brewster buck, one can hear the excitement and virtual awe in his voice as the story of one of history’s greatest bucks has emerged.
“Even if we go back to the earliest preserved whitetail racks from the 19th century, we see bucks with antler scores of 300 inches are among the rarest of trophies,” said Whittington. “For a wild buck to attain 330 inches of gross score puts him in the most elite company of all. Only two other intact wild racks have ever broken that number, and neither of them was shot by a hunter. So it’s hard to overstate how special he is.”
For the longtime NAW editor, that special nature is shown not just in the eye-popping numbers of the Brewster buck, but also in the overall appearance of the massive rack.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Ohio’s “Hole in the Horn” buck, the 328 2/8-inch non-typical found dead in Ohio in 1940,” said Whittington. “He ranks No. 2 among all wild bucks ever, second only to the 333 7/8-inch Missouri Monarch found dead in 1981. The Brewster buck rivals their gross scores, which is amazing. And he has a tall, well-balanced typical frame that shows off a stunning array of non-typical points. In my mind he’s the best hunter-taken whitetail ever, and his measurements support that view.”
As whitetail hunting’s top historian, Whittington says that part of the appeal of Brewster’s big buck tale is where it took place, in a state that many had begun to write off as a potential world record producer.
“Part of what makes this so exciting is that the buck came from Illinois, a state many hunters had begun to think was washed up,” he said. “Disease, drought, and in some areas, overhunting, had reduced the number of record-class bucks in the harvest in recent years, so the negative perception was understandable. For a buck of this magnitude to now turn up is extremely encouraging.
“As for the location, Edgar County doesn’t surprise me. At least one other buck of over 260 inches came from there in the 1990s, and eastern Illinois in general has great antler genetics. So the potential for a record-setter has been there all along.”
While the entry score of the potential world record buck was made public on Thursday in Louisville, Whittington says that the full details of Brewster’s amazing hunt are forthcoming in just a few more days as the next issue of NAW magazine hits mailboxes and newsstands all across the country.
“This buck is on the cover of our Spring 2019 issue, which will hit newsstands in mid-February,” said Whittington. “Author Lynn Burkhead did an outstanding job of gathering the hunt details and photos. That effort paid off with a great story about an epic trophy.”
Shelton agreed, noting that the Spring 2019 issue of North American Whitetail is almost certainly a collector’s issue thanks to the tale about the massive Illinois buck that was taken only a few weeks ago.
“Luke Brewster’s hunting tale is a must-read, and it’s the cover story of NAW’s spring issue,” said Shelton. “Look for a copy on newsstands in February 2019 and be sure to check out NorthAmericanWhitetail.com for more breaking news. We’ll be releasing more details about the hunt for this historic buck in print, online, and on future episodes of NAW TV.”
For Whittington, Thursday’s announcement and the excitement behind chasing this world record story serve as reminders of why he’s still in the business of reporting on North America’s best whitetails. On one hand, there are the stories of the biggest bucks that history has ever recorded. And on the other hand, there are the amazing tales of people like Brewster and their pursuit of the continent’s best big game animal.
“After all these years, it’s still thrilling to help bring great deer into public view through our magazine,” said Whittington. “We’ve been doing exactly that for over a third of a century now, and it remains as exciting as ever.
“Invariably, as is the case with this buck, the hunter is a “regular” person to whom something extraordinary has happened,” he added. “Helping to guide that hunter through the process, so the deer can be celebrated by everyone in the trophy deer community, is a really fulfilling part of what we do here at North American Whitetail.”
Stay tuned to North American Whitetail’s print magazine, website, television show, and social media platforms for more details concerning the Luke Brewster buck and its apparent ascent to deer hunting’s world record throne!