July 23, 2021
By now, readers of North American Whitetail magazine probably know that the long celebrated non-typical buck taken in Illinois back in November 2018 by bowhunter Luke Brewster is a world record, in more ways than one.
That’s because the 327 7/8-inch non-typical, a massive whitetail whose story was exclusively unveiled to the world at the 2019 ATA Archery Trade Show by North American Whitetail editor emeritus Gordon Whittington and NAW editor Haynes Shelton, went on to become the official Pope and Young Club non-typical world record, as well as the top hunter-harvested whitetail ever recorded in the Boone and Crockett Club record book.
Brewster and his amazing buck continue to be a newsmakers to this day, with the Virginia resident receiving the coveted Ishi Award at last weekend’s Pope and Young Club Convention in Reno, Nevada.
When all of the smoke had cleared from a deer hunting tale for the ages, it would have been easy to sit back and wonder when the deer hunting camp would ever see such an incredible feat again, the taking of a buck scoring above the almost mythical benchmark of 320-inches, a place where only three whitetails in all of history reside.
As it turns out, it would take less than a year. In fact, it only took about 11 months as Andover, Kan. bowhunter Brian Butcher arrowed another monster non-typical on Oct. 11, 2019 as he hunted in Chase County.
Known for its unusual rack configuration that has three scorable points on the right side and an unbelievable 64 points on the left side, the Butcher Deer also utilized the ATA Show as its launching pad, drawing a huge 2020 crowd as it was displayed in the Scent Crusher booth and announced in a NorthAmericanWhitetail.com story that spread the word of yet another monster whitetail potentially scoring at or above the 320-inch mark.
The ATA Show unveiling in 2020 started Butcher and his own amazing non-typical buck on a twisting path towards the top of the record books. The nearly two-year journey started on Jan. 3, 2020 when Boone and Crockett official measurers Ken Witt and Marc Murrell put a tape to the difficult to score deer. Some 5 ½ hours later, Witt and Murrell announced the buck’s 60-day entry score at 343 4/8-inches gross and 321 7/8-inches net.
From the outset, the unique rack drew its share of criticism as some opined that the deer just didn’t look like a textbook whitetail, instead being a unique looking buck with an explosion of points on one-side. Others noted that if the deer was scored by Witt—a veteran of several panel scoring sessions and one of the nation’s longest and most trusted measurers—then the numbers that were crunched from his application of the measuring rules must be sound and correct.
For his part, the quiet and likable Butcher smiled and waited patiently as the story of his buck began to trickle out and the winding road to panel scoring by the Pope and Young Club began. Only after the panel measuring effort was eventually completed would his buck’s score be official, one way or the other and he was comfortable with that.
But then the world began to fall apart as the deadly COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep across North America and the rest of the world in the late winter and spring of 2020, an event so serious and deadly that it scuttled most everything on the calendar, including the 2020 Pope and Young Club convention in Virginia.
As Butcher sat patiently waiting and hoping for the best, the clock started ticking on the 2021 P&Y convention, something originally scheduled to happen in April of this year. With convention plans still moving forward earlier this year, Butcher shipped his antlers off late last winter and waited again.
But then the coronavirus scourge did it again, postponing the P&Y convention this spring as organizers moved the event to the summer months in hopes that vaccinations, declining virus cases and fatalities, and slowly improving on-the-ground conditions would allow for a full-fledged gathering of bowhunting’s faithful.
Unfortunately for Butcher—whose story is being told through an upcoming short-film entitled Buck Fever–that meant even more waiting.
“They (Pope and Young) sent a letter telling me about the antlers and how they would be taken care of,” said Butcher. “I wasn’t nervous about that and I remember sending them off in February and thinking no big deal. It’s easy to say that, but I’ll be honest, the last month or so, I was pretty anxious and nervous about it all. We were on a nearly two-year long journey since I shot the deer and to find out that it’s as high as it is, I’m just blessed and lucky.”
Indeed he is, finding out at the P&Y convention last week that the score on his massive whitetail was unchanged in panel scoring, becoming completely official at 343 4/8-inches gross and 321 7/8-inches net, numbers surpassed in the hunting world only by Brewster and his own amazing buck.
Don’t think any corners were cut by panel measurers as they taped out the difficult rack. In fact, Pope and Young executive director Jason Rounsaville confirmed earlier this week that the two different panel measuring groups that examined Butcher’s deer actually spent anywhere from six to eight hours each examining the buck’s unique rack and confirming the panel score. Also note that the hours and effort put into this complicated and difficult to score rack are impressive by the collection of measurers who have taped the deer, a start to finish process that totals at least 17 hours of measuring effort, if not more.
“I’m not an official measurer, but I have a basic idea of how the measuring rules and processes go,” said Rounsaville. “But I’ll be honest, I have no idea of where to start on this deer.”
Rounsaville indicated that the two panel measuring groups had the measurer’s manual, years of collective wisdom and experience, and the original measurements from Witt and Murrell.
In the end, the two panel groups—which Rounsaville says were each composed of three of the top measurers in the country—all ended up within the allowable differences, a fraction of an inch here or there. That allowed the Butcher Buck’s entry score to remain unchanged and for the deer to enter the Pope and Young Club’s Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America record book as the sport’s second highest scoring whitetail of all-time.
“For all of them to be within a few fractions of an inch, with all three scores being that way, you would hope for that to happen,” said Rounsaville. “I would have expected that something might have popped up along the way (that was slightly different), but it didn’t. To have three scores on a complex deer like that which are nearly identical, it’s just totally amazing and shows the detail and effort that those measurers show in the mastering of their craft.”
Butcher indicated that he was also a bit surprised at the outcome of his deer’s entry score being unchanged in the end.
“I didn’t expect that,” he said of the buck receiving no upward or downward correction. “I thought the score last year by Ken and Marc would be pretty close, but I didn’t expect it to be completely unchanged. I couldn’t feel luckier about it all.”
Where does Butcher’s unique whitetail place in the annals of deer hunting history? Near the absolute top, on the proverbial Mount Rushmore of the sport.
In fact, the Butcher Buck is now officially the #2 non-typical bow-kill of all-time, falling only behind Brewster’s world record buck by six-inches. What’s more, the Butcher Buck is also the second largest hunter-harvested buck ever recorded, falling only behind Brewster’s huge bow-kill in that category. And the Butcher Buck looks to also check in at No. 4 all-time in the B&C record book, which is anchored by the 333 7/8-inch world record “Missouri Monarch” and the 328 2/8-inch “Hole in the Horn Buck” from Ohio. Both of those latter two deer are pick-up entries, something that the B&C Club allows.
Last weekend at the P&Y Convention, not one, but two wickedly big whitetails drew plenty of attention as the mounts sat quietly under the blue-tinted display lights. They were the hit of the bowhunting show, in fact. And why not, since Brewster and Butcher have done something that no other hunters in history have done, arrowing massive bucks that score above the magical 320-inch mark, and all of that big-antlered craziness happening in the span of only 11-months.
Rounsaville chuckles a bit, noting that two bucks scoring more than 640-inches combined are sure to draw a crowd anywhere.
“That is the North American model of wildlife management working very well,” he said. “You always hear about the good old days (in hunting), well, we’re actually living in those right now in many ways. I think we had 10 new bowhunting world records unveiled at the convention and that’s just unbelievable.”
For his part, Butcher finds it all a little unbelievable too.
“I’ll be honest, when I shot this deer, I had no idea what even the state record was, let alone some of those other deer,” he said. “I just loved to bowhunt and this was a completely unexpected fork in the road. We (Butcher and his two bowhunting friends, Luke Buxton, and Clint Pock) were just a few guys who liked to hunt, and all of a sudden, we were thrown into this world of world-class deer that I had only read about and seen on TV.
“I was so awestruck showing the buck off (in the Scent Crusher booth) at the ATA Show and I felt like the whole time I was there, that I’m not a guy who is supposed to be here.”
But after the twisting journey of the last year and a half is complete, Butcher and his buck are indeed supposed to be here, near the top of the record books, a spot that most hunters can only dream about.
But not a couple of bowhunters named Luke and Brian, because they’ve lived the big antlered dream.