May 31, 2016
Nearly 20 years ago, Doug Laird lost his right arm in a conveyor accident. However, that hasn't stopped him from pursuing his passion for deer hunting; he's refused to let his injury hold him back. Remarkably, this avid sportsman even hunts with a modified compound bow during the Missouri archery season.
When the 2014 bow season began, Doug spent several days hunting on private farms in central Missouri. He saw numerous deer and passed up some small bucks. Doug had seen a lot of deer on one particular 400-acre farm, but he was holding out for a large buck. As the Missouri gun season approached, the hunter decided to focus on that farm in hopes of finally getting a crack at a shooter buck.
Doug hunted the first five days of gun season with his Remington .243 rifle. He saw several does and small bucks, but none convincing enough to take a shot. On Nov. 15, Doug was in a ladder stand well before daylight. The weather was cold and windy, and he hoped the bucks would be moving. Around 9:00 he saw three deer working their way through dense cover towards a 50-acre cedar thicket.
Two of the deer looked like bucks, and one was significantly larger than the other. The two bucks were accompanied by one antlerless deer. All three hesitated briefly just before slipping into the thicket, giving Doug time for a closer look. Doug had a clear shot at the smaller of the antlered deer, a nice 8-pointer, but decided to pass. As the deer entered their bedding area, they seemed totally unaware of how close they had come to Doug's tree stand.
Doug climbed down from his ladder stand at 10:00 am, and headed to lunch with the landowner, Alan. Doug and Alan attempted to figure out a strategy for the afternoon hunt, hoping to get a shot at the larger of the morning's two bucks. Around mid-afternoon, the men headed back afield. Alan went to the stand where Doug had hunted that morning, and Doug went to a different stand — this one on the downwind side of the bedding area.
Just after 4:30 that evening, Doug saw the same three whitetails heading his way. This time the larger antlered deer stopped broadside at about 75 yards. Using the railing of the ladder stand to support his gun, Doug put the crosshairs of the Tasco scope on the bigger deer's shoulder. Once he had a solid hold on the buck's vitals, he pulled the trigger.
The whitetail immediately turned, jumped across a ditch and disappeared into the cedar thicket. The 8-pointer and doe followed, and within seconds all had cleared the field.
After waiting a half-hour or so, Doug got down from the stand and went to look for blood. He called Alan, who immediately came over to help trail the deer. The men searched diligently for any sign of a bloodtrail, but as darkness settled in, they found none. Somewhat discouraged, Doug marked the spot where he'd last seen the deer, then quietly backed out.
The next morning, Doug continued to search for the deer. He found some freshly broken limbs and finally a small spot of blood. He was relieved to know he'd at least hit the deer and called Alan to help again. Unfortunately, the blood trail didn't last long before running out, and the men were again searching without much sign.
Alan mentioned he remembered hearing the sounds of a deer thrashing around after Doug shot, and recommended they take a look there. Doug agreed, and they moved toward the area where Alan had heard the sound. As they split up and advanced towards the location, Doug almost tripped over his deer, which was lying dead in a briar thicket! The whitetail had died only 50 yards from where it had been standing at the moment of the shot.
Doug finally got a good look at his deer and was astounded by the size of the rack. "My first thought was that I'd shot the biggest buck of my life," he recalls.
As Doug stood admiring the tremendous mass of antler atop the deer's head, Alan went to get his truck. Soon after, the deer was tagged and loaded into the pickup. Only after the men got back to the house did this story take an odd turn.
When Doug and Alan started to gut the deer, they were blown away by the surprise they found. As Alan picked up the hind legs of the monster "buck" for field dressing, he turned to Doug in total shock and said: "This is a doe!"
After a full examination, Doug confirmed the deer did indeed "not have any male parts."
The men called local conservation officer Nathaniel Hedges, who met them at the taxidermy shop (Schulp's Cedar Ridge Taxidermy). Officer Hedges confirmed the deer was actually a doe, and then took photos to verify it had been properly tagged. (In Missouri, deer tags are categorized as "antlered" or "antlerless," so Doug's "buck" tag had been appropriately attached.)
There's reason to think this is the largest-antlered female whitetail ever documented. Although unique in the most obvious of ways, Doug's doe is even more rare in the fact she'd rubbed her antlers and was "hard-horned." Lacking velvet, she also had an irregularly large head and neck, which only added to her buck-like appearance.
This appears to be be the only antlered doe to make the Boone & Crockett record book, making the kill even more extraordinary. The antlers are very impressive by any standard, with both main beams over 25 inches, and over 40 inches of circumference measurements. The thick bases are 7 0/8 and 6 3/8!
The doe's heavy racked basic 10-point frame had a gross typical score of 167 0/8. With 10 4/8 inches of deductions and 25 0/8 of abnormal points, the gross non-typical score was just over 200 inches. That makes the net non-typical score 189 1/8, which exceeds the 185 0/8 needed for entry into B&C's Awards Period records. Not bad for a doe!