March 29, 2021
By Dan Cole
Luke Alderfer knew time was of the essence. The antlers he was staring at were the largest he’d ever seen — and he knew they wouldn’t be there for long. His plan to make a casual drive through the eastern Pennsylvania countryside had just been turned upside down.
That drive along backroads near Evansburg State Park had led Luke to a country garage sale. With time on his hands, he’d pulled in to see what treasures he might find. The sale itself didn’t offer anything that caught his eye, but a glimpse toward a slightly ajar barn door revealed a set of deer antlers. Taking a closer look inside, Luke was astonished at what he saw.
“There were 30 to 40 sets of antlers in that barn,” he recalls. “Most of them were in the 130-to 140-inch range, but a couple may have pushed 180 inches non-typical. Those were big antlers to me. However, there was one set — a monstrous 7x6 typical — that really stood out. I’d never seen a set of whitetail antlers that big in my life.”
Reaching out to the host of the sale, Luke learned the antlers were from a deer taken by the woman’s late husband, Frederick Kyriss. Mrs. Kyriss told Luke that all the antlers were of locally taken deer, including the huge typical. She remembered it as having been taken “sometime in the late ’60s or early ’70s.
Luke was told the antlers could be purchased, but that he’d have to buy them all at once, because the owner was reluctant to separate the collection.
“Their asking price was a couple hundred dollars more than I had on me at the time,” he says. “So I told her I would go get the extra money needed and come back as quickly as possible.
As Luke drove out of the driveway, there was only one thing on his mind: He had to make this quick. His casual weekend drive had suddenly turned into a dash for cash!
It took Luke a little over a half-hour to round up the extra money and return to the garage sale . . . only to find out he was too late. The antlers were gone, every last one of them. In fact, the entire garage sale had closed. Someone had come in and purchased all remaining items, including the contents of the barn!
I was pretty sick about it.” Luke says. “But at that point, there was nothing more I could do."
These events took place nearly 20 years ago, slightly northwest of Philadelphia. The garage sale where Luke had seen the giant typical was between Evansburg State Park and Graterford State Prison. This area has long been known for large-antlered bucks. Although the world has changed considerably within the past 20 years, the area still has a reputation for producing big deer.
Unfortunately, Frederick Kyriss passed away in 1993, so we’ll never know the full story of the hunt that produced one of the largest typical whitetails ever recorded. However, a great story eventually unfolded, though it took almost 20 years for it to be written.
It’s no secret within the whitetail world that stories behind several of the world’s largest bucks are filled with odd twists and turns. In fact, it’s almost expected that there will be something bizarre within their past. The world-class Kyriss buck that slipped through Luke’s hands nearly 20 years ago is no exception. However, to fully appreciate the rest of this story, we need a short lesson on antler values.
Listening to the casual observer, you could easily be led to believe that every large whitetail rack will fetch a six-figure valuation. These stories usually start with someone mentioning that a big box store offered an outrageous price for a set of antlers. But reality teaches something far different.
I won’t say no whitetail rack has ever sold for six figures, but the number that have could most likely be counted on one hand. The reality is this: It takes a true world-class whitetail just to break into five figures. Keep this in mind as you read what follows.
For almost 20 years these antlers stayed out of sight, inadvertently hidden from the public eye. It’s now known that during most of that span they were lying in a back room of a small antique store near Boyertown. The room had been partitioned off from the rest of the building, which resulted in the rack being hidden from public view. The antique store that once housed the antlers has since closed and been replaced, and as far as this story is concerned, there’s no record as to its name.
We only know about the antique store and the inside details of the antlers being there because of what happened in June 2018. Each year the Pennsylvania Trappers Association holds an annual rendezvous, and in ’18 it took place at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Port Royal. It was there that the story behind the antlers from the Kyriss buck truly came to life.
One morning of the rendezvous, a vendor had to retrieve something from his vehicle. As he did, he noticed a man walking across the parking lot toward the building entrance. That in itself was nothing unusual, as the parking lot was rather busy, and there were several people going either into or out of the building. However, it was the large antlers the man was carrying that grabbed the vendor’s full attention. Curious, the vendor approached the man and began asking questions.
The man with the rack didn’t know anything about its history, but he told the vendor he’d recently purchased it from an antique store that was going out of business. When asked how much he’d given for the antlers, the man replied, “I paid $40 for them.
Now, before you throw your device across the room in utter disbelief, I’d like to suggest that you wait a couple minutes before doing so. You see, there’s still much more to tell!
Apparently, the vendor not only recognized the antlers as being rather large, he must have also known they had a value to them, because he offered the man $100 for the rack. And surprisingly, he accepted the offer!
As amazing as that might be, the story isn’t over yet. Now the vendor was the proud new owner of the Kyriss antlers. However, that status was short-lived, because he was about to receive an offer he couldn’t refuse!
Naturally, he took the antlers inside with him when he returned to his booth. And just as naturally, they caused quite a stir among the neighboring vendors. But a man in an adjoining booth recognized that he was looking at a world-class set of antlers. After asking several questions about the rack, he finally asked the owner how he’d obtained it. When the vendor told him the story and how much he’d paid for them, the man told him, “I’ll double your money for them.” And surprisingly, his $200 offer was accepted!
For those keeping score, here’s a set of antlers with an honest chance of breaking five figures in value, but for some reason, the first three times it was sold individually, the price only reached $200. After all these years, I hope Luke can at least chuckle when he thinks of what could have been. Sometimes the world seems to be a little out of kilter!
The above scenario is all true, and the antlers are clearly world-class. The tape removes any doubt about that.
Andre Beaudry, an official measurer from Quebec, had the honor of measuring the antlers for the Boone & Crockett Club’s record book. And his final numbers impressed everyone.
The right antler is amazing, at 96 0/8 inches typical. But the left is simply behemoth, at 102 3/8! The 219 2/8 gross typical score places it within elite company among the 25 highest-grossing typical whitetails ever recorded. What’s more, the net score of 202 7/8 puts it solidly in the No. 8 spot all-time for that record book. It also is now the Pennsylvania typical record, as well as the largest typical ever documented as being from so far east in North America.
Again, exactly when Frederick shot this buck is unknown. But if scored soon after the 60-day drying period, it seems he’d have been No. 1 in B&C. Minnesota’s John Breen buck (202 0/8 net) was the official world record back then. That giant had been shot in 1918 but had gone unmeasured for decades. And the 206 1/8-inch James Jordan buck from Wisconsin (1914) took even longer to be officially scored. So the Kyriss buck could well have been an official world record for years.
The buck’s antlers have a beautiful “patina of age” color, as is common among those of old. The rack displays a high, sweeping profile matched by few others. With three tines over 13 inches long and six total that exceed 10, it’s easy to see where the high score comes from.
And the “what if” scenario is amazing. If the rack didn’t have 5 4/8 inches of abnormal growth deductions, it would have had a net score of 208 7/8. This is significant, as it would have taken until 1993 — the current B&C world-record Milo Hanson buck from Saskatchewan, at 213 5/8 — to displace it!
Of course, 200-inch-net typicals aren’t common. Of the known two dozen or so, the two most recent entries are the 200 1/8 giant shot by John Tarala and Maurice Berezowski in Saskatchewan in 2006, and William Lloyd’s 2018 Arkansas buck, which also scores 200 1/8.
To put such racks’ rarity into perspective, consider that we’ve documented B&C whitetails as far back as 1830, and still only a handful have ever made this distinguished list. And no other current Top 10 typical or non-typical has come from the Northeast, much less Pennsylvania specifically. This is one seriously historic whitetail.
Eventually, the third owner sold the antlers to Jay Fish, who now displays them to the public as part of his New Legends collection. The antlers were a huge hit as soon as they were shown, and it didn’t take long before photos began appearing within various online groups and pages.
In fact, in early 2019 Luke was scrolling through a popular group page on a social media site when he came across a photo of the buck. Even though it had been almost 20 years since he’d seen the rack in person, he recognized it immediately. It was like a reunion with an old friend. As Luke puts it, “You never forget holding antlers that big.
Again, the tales behind the giants usually have some type of unconventional twist, but this one beats most others. Who’d ever have thought that in the modern era, the rack of the eighth-biggest typical whitetail rack of all time could be purchased for only $40?