The quest for fame and fortune may have claimed another victim from the hunting world.
This time, Illinois hunter and taxidermist Marc Anthony is suspected of mounting antlers from a 190-inch Boone & Crockett buck found dead in Kansas on a deer he claimed to have killed in Illinois.
Anthony, who lives in Goodfield, Illinois, made a name for himself after shooting multiple bucks that qualified for the Boone & Crocket record book. The first was entered in 1995, followed by two other subsequent entries, according to B&C's searchable online database. He allegedly shot as many as 24 more that qualified for Pope & Young's book.
Anthony claimed that almost all of the trophy-class bucks were killed while hunting from the ground, which helped him market a ghillie suit he helped design and often wore while hunting. His success helped him gain numerous sponsors in recent years.
Anthony is also a blogger, seminar speaker and writer who shared his advice on finding and hunting trophy-class bucks.
Now it all seems to be unraveling.
Mike Charowhas, a professional antler collector and dealer from Kansas, said the rack from one of the giant whitetails Anthony claims to have killed in Illinois is identical to the antlers on a skull he bought in 2008. Charowhas no longer owns that rack, and he doesn't remember when he sold or traded it.
However, after seeing pictures of Anthony and the deer in question, Charowhas posted photos of the Kansas skull he once owned on a Facebook page alongside a photo of the giant buck Anthony claimed to have killed. There is little debate within the hunting community online that the racks in the photos are one and same. The story has since gone viral.
Hunters who have scrutinized photos of the arrowed buck point to discrepancies between the deer's body and the antlers on its head. The antler bases seem to stand higher above the hairline than normal in one photo posted online, and an odd line runs from the base of one antler to the other in a different picture.
The antlers of the buck lying in the woods appear slightly off-center in another photo, as if the downward pressure of the head is forcing the rack to push upward unnaturally. None of the photos of Anthony and the buck in question show him actually holding the deer by the antlers.
It's suspected that Anthony, who is a highly regarded taxidermist, removed the skull cap from a dead buck and replaced it with the presumably larger Kansas rack for photos. And fame.
Now that one buck has raised questions, various collectors are looking closely at other deer Anthony claims to have killed. Charowhas is one of them.
"I just can't say for sure, but after looking at some of his deer, bells are going off in my head," Charowhas said. "I deal in so many antlers, it's impossible to say if any of his are ones I owned in the past, but I don't know."
At this point Anthony has not made any statements confirming or denying the allegations. In fact, he has virtually disappeared. At least one Facebook page Anthony administered has been removed. It has also been reported that he cancelled speaking engagements and was asked to leave the Illinois Whitetail Alliance.
NAW was unsuccessful in attempts to contact Anthony, but we did locate an archived episode of NAW TV in which Anthony talks about the deer in question. Ironically, Anthony told viewers that when he first saw the rack, he thought it looked fake. He also mentioned that he had trail camera photos of the deer, but to this date he has not produced the photos to back up his claim. Check out the video:
"I was really excited to be hunting a new farm. About mid-summer I noticed this nice 6x6 on the trail camera I placed. I was very excited but, obviously, it was hard to keep quiet. I tracked him all summer, setting the camera back 30 yards from where he was coming from about every three weeks."
"I made a map of where he was coming from and used that as my future hunting area with the hopes that he would return in the early season and I would ambush him. That strategy has worked well in the past — better than my rut strategy — and is how I've gotten my big bucks."
Anthony even gave specific details about the alleged hunt.
"On October 13 he came down the same path as a week before. I had to let him go 15 yards past me because I was wearing my ghillie suit ... It was one of the easiest hunts I've had. I was able to drop him in his tracks right then and there."
"I was amazed by the symmetry [of the rack]. You know, at first I thought it looked fake€¦it is just an unbelievable symmetrical rack. I'll probably never see another one like it again. I've been hunting forty years in the timber and never seen a deer like that in my life."
Check out the Sportsman Channel for air dates, times and additional information about NAW TV.