Last November, when word came that a Tennessee muzzleloader hunter had shot a potential 300-class non-typical buck, the response was predictably all over the map. Most sportsmen naturally congratulated the hunter on taking a buck at least 50 inches larger than the previous state record.
Of course, some other hunters — many of them from areas better known for world-class whitetails — figured this Southern deer was nothing more than the product of a game farm or that someone had royally botched the "green" scoring of a lesser buck.
Those who felt the deer and his alleged size were as advertised have been vindicated. Not only were any rumors of high fence or manipulated genetics rapidly dismissed, the buck proved to be every bit as big as rumored.
In fact, he's perhaps even bigger.
On Monday, Jan. 9, official Boone & Crockett measurer Dale Grandstaff taped the giant following the mandatory 60-day drying period. When he'd finished up, the result was a simply stunning number: 312 3/8 net inches. That was even higher than the measurer's "green" score of 308 2/8, which he'd calculated a few days after the kill.
While nothing is yet official in B&C's eyes, the fact this 47-pointer crossed the magical 300-inch mark with a foot to spare on his entry score suggests he's in truly elite company. In fact, he's a strong contender to be the world's largest hunter-taken whitetail of all time.
B&C's overall world record in the non-typical category is the 333 7/8-inch "Missouri Monarch," which was found dead in 1981. At No. 2 is Ohio's 328 2/8-inch "Hole in the Horn" buck, found dead in 1940. And right behind them in the official rankings, at 307 4/8, is Tony Lovstuen's Iowa giant from 2003. Not only is that deer the current hunter-taken world record, he also holds down the No. 1 spot among muzzleloader kills.
With nearly five inches of gap between this new Tennessee buck and Lovstuen's mark, there's clearly reason to think the world could soon have a new overall record by hunting. But we won't know for sure until 2019, when the next B&C judges panel is convened to review potential Top 10 trophies of North America's various big-game species. B&C panels are convened following the Club's triennial Awards Periods, the next of which ends Dec. 31, 2018.
Regardless of what the Tucker buck scores at panel, and regardless of any other giants entered between now and the end of this Awards Period, it's clear the Tennessee buck has shocked the whitetail world. It's an unlikely deer from an unlikely area, and it's a story filled with true drama.
For sure, the hunter is thrilled with how it's all transpired to this point.
"I have truly been blessed and I am very thankful," Stephen said after learning of his deer's entry score. "I have had a lot of phones calls and questions and have tried to be patient waiting through the process. I am very appreciative to my family, friends, and the TWRA, especially Capt. Dale Grandstaff, who has led me through the process. I believe he has been as excited about it as I have."
You'll find the first full magazine feature on this amazing buck in the upcoming Spring issue of North American Whitetail, which will be released in February. You definitely don't want to miss it!