By Lynn Burkhead
For the second time in as many years, new bows, arrows, and broadheads weren’t the only big news to come out of the annual ATA Archery Trade Show as this year’s 2020 version has taken place in downtown Indianapolis. Once again the industry was hit with news of a massive non-typical whitetail buck — a huge deer sitting in the rarified air north of 320 inches net on the Boone and Crockett Club scoring scale.
A year ago in Louisville, Virginia bowhunter Luke Brewster wowed the North American deer hunting camp when his amazing Illinois non-typical from Nov. 2018 was unveiled to the world on the first day of the 2019 ATA Show.
Told to the world in a Facebook Live stream hosted by North American Whitetail magazine editor Gordon Whittington and associate editor Hanes Shelton, the initial 60-day entry score of the Brewster Buck was reported to be 320 5/8 inches net. Later panel scoring last year by the B&C Club bumped those numbers up even more with the Brewster Buck getting a final official B&C score of 327 7/8 inches net. In addition to those numbers confirming the Brewster Buck as the largest buck ever taken by a hunter, the buck moved into the No. 3 all-time B&C record book spot behind two famous pick-up entries, the Ohio “Hole in the Horn Buck” at 328 2/8 inches and the “Missouri Monarch” world record at 333 7/8 inches.
So big are those three legendary bucks that they are the only whitetails in history to net score more than 320 inches. But after news has broken this week of the Brian Butcher buck from southern Kansas, it seems that there may be a fourth member heading into that exclusive club.
Taken on Oct. 11, 2019, Butcher’s massive buck was scored a few days ago by veteran B&C measurers Ken Witt and Marc Murrell. After a nearly five-hour long scoring session behind closed doors on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, the score of the Butcher Buck was announced at 343 4/8 inches gross and 321 3/8 inches net.
If those numbers hold form in future panel scoring efforts at or before the B&C biannual convention in 2021, the Butcher Buck would become the second largest non-typical whitetail ever taken by a hunter, the fourth largest non-typical whitetail in history, and the new Kansas state record non-typical buck.
Incidentally, the current Kansas state record non-typical buck is a 295-inch entry picked up in 2012 by James E. Wanklyn, an apparent EHD kill in Marshall County, Kansas. The gun-kill state record non-typical in Kansas is a Shawnee County buck taken in 1987 by Joseph Waters. And the Pope and Young Club bow-kill state record is a 264 1/8-inch Pottawatomie County non-typical entry taken by Dale Larson in 1998.
Now add Butcher’s buck to the list of world class non-typical whitetails, his being one of the most impressive of them all. While the Butcher Buck is certainly an unusually configured buck—most of its non-typical points and mass lies on an unusual left main beam that sits opposite a moderately sized and typically configured right main beam—the buck apparently has a staggering total of 67-scorable points!
So, it’s little wonder that Butcher sat in the Scent Crusher booth this week at the Indiana Convention Center, soaking in his sudden celebrity status with a slightly dazed look as dozens of onlookers flocked by for a photo and media types approached the humble 38-year-old bowhunter for details on his hunt for the huge Kansas buck.
While the full details of Butcher’s hunt will be saved for a future story in a forthcoming issue of North American Whitetail magazine, what can be shared now is the utter amazement that the bowhunter felt a few days ago when several months of quiet anticipation about how big his buck actually was (ended up being) proven true by some head turning B&C numbers.
“You know, to me, it was a huge relief because we had measured it a lot,” said Butcher, who had taped the buck himself on several occasions with friend Brian Crowe. “I was ecstatic with the score and it was better than what we had measured. We felt like we had waited a long time to hear that score.
“It was a great feeling. I had my wife and kids with me, and it was just an exciting moment for all of us.”
That excitement has spread like a prairie wildfire to others as word of Butcher’s deer has gotten out this week. And with the buck’s actual rack being on display this week at the Scent Crusher booth, that excitement has grown as the crowds have gathered to gawk at the massive whitetail.
“You know, it’s awesome,” said Dan Drake, a Wichita, Kan. resident and owner of Scent Crusher. “Brian is a special guy and for him to have only been a half an hour from our office, and for us to be able to kind of watch this whole story unfold, it’s been kind of neat.”
That story started innocently enough for Drake when a friend told him of a giant buck being arrowed in Kansas last October.
“Brian is a friend of a friend and I had seen some pictures,” said Drake. “I said ‘Hey, come by with that deer,’ and he did and just literally threw it down on a table and started talking.
“I do a weekly Facebook Live thing and asked if he wanted to come onto that,” Drake continued. “He said “Probably not yet, I want to get it scored and stuff.’ So, I called him a couple of months ago and said ‘Hey, would you like to come to ATA with us?’ And that’s before we knew anything about the score. I was just like ‘God, it’s so unique’ and we need to do it.’ So, we did some planning, and here he is.”
Keep in mind once again that what had already been planned was before the Butcher Buck was actually scored within the past several days. After that scoring session and a subsequent drive by Butcher from his Kansas home to the ATA Show in Indy, the stage was set for this week’s big buck news.
“He had it scored this week and we were like ‘Oh, my goodness!’,” smiled Drake. “This is really special.”
So special in fact that the story has gone viral this week as news outlets around the world, from small local newspapers to Fox News, have trumpeted the news of the huge Kansas whitetail and its amazing numbers.
Asked if he thought he would ever make Fox News, Butcher smiled, shook his head, and said no.
“Never,” said the Andover, Kan. resident with a chuckle. “It couldn’t have been for a better reason in my opinion.
“Deer hunting is something that I love to do and am passionate about and have been for quite a while. How all of this has unfolded in making the news, in getting support from friends and other people in the (deer hunting) industry that I had never met before, it’s just been overwhelming in a great way.”
While the rack of Butcher’s giant buck is certainly unusual as noted above, the deer is quite impressive when actually viewed in person. While the old cliché about pictures not doing something justice may be a bit worn out, it appears to be true in this instance as one notes the Butcher Buck’s amazing mass, staggering number of non-typical points, and other nuances.
In fact, the buck appears to have already survived the intense scrutiny that will likely come its way as others debate whether such an unusual whitetail should be destined for the upper reaches of the hallowed B&C record book.
First seen by officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the Butcher Buck was also carefully scrutinized by officials with the B&C Club prior to its 60-day measuring session late last week.
And with Witt — a veteran B&C measurer who has participated in several world record panel measuring sessions — traveling to Kansas from his North Texas home, it would seem as if his effort with Murrell is something of a measuring session designed to answer questions, remove doubt, and eliminate controversy and surprises that could occur between now and the actual B&C panel measuring session within the next two years.
It may be a long, winding road to get to that final panel score, but Butcher seems ready for the journey with his unusual buck, one that began this week when KDWPT officials issued a news release and announced the Butcher Buck’s B&C score to the world.
“It’s has been (a whirlwind experience over the last few months),” said Butcher. “The chaos just began, I feel like, on Tuesday (when news of the buck and its score broke). I (had) wanted to wait and I wanted the state of Kansas to be the ones to release the news. Ever since then, it’s been (crazy).
“Luckily, I was already in contact with Scent Crusher and they had invited me here,” he added. “Things like that (were already going on) before we even had the score. That was already in place, but I feel like the ride is just beginning possibly.”
Looking at the onlookers flocking by to get a glimpse of the humble bowhunter from Kansas and his amazing buck, that would certainly seem to be the case.