Story of a Buck Named Wapiti

By Will Brantley writes Brow Tines and Backstrap

Tyler Shelton with the buck named Wapiti. Brad Shelton spends much of his hunting season sitting with his two boys, Tyler, 13, and Clay, 11. All three of these guys are whitetail-obsessed, to say the least. Brad runs trail cameras year-around on the farm he hunts in north-central Kentucky, and about a year ago to the date, he began getting pictures of an unusual-looking buck.

The buck in fall of 2012. “He showed up right before the youth season last year, and the boys started calling him ‘Wapiti’ because his antlers sort of looked like a little elk’s antlers,” Brad says. “We never saw him during the youth season last year, but I saw him several times during rifle season, and he walked right underneath my stand on the last day of bow season. That area is heavily hunted, and I had my doubts about him making it through the season. But he did. I got pictures of him throughout the winter, and he shed his antlers the second week of January.”

The buck began making regular appearances again in June. And it was obvious those funky antlers were growing. “I’ve got a mineral lick next to a clover plot, and he started showing up on camera there every single day. I’ve never seen a deer more predictable than him. I saw him the night before bow season (Sept. 7), and on opening afternoon. He stepped out about 80 yards away. After that, I didn’t hunt him again until the first afternoon of the youth season.”

Wapiti made a huge jump in size between 2012 and 2013. Brad, Tyler and Clay slipped into a ground blind early on Saturday afternoon. Tyler was up to shoot, and the Sheltons soon had does and button bucks in front them. “We had deer in front of us for three hours,” Brad says. “And then, like clockwork, Wapiti stepped out just as the sun set. The grass was tall, and he put his head down to feed. Tyler shot, and the deer mule-kicked and disappeared over a high spot in the field. I was afraid he had gut-shot him, so we backed out to eat supper and watch the first half of the UK football game. About 8:30 I went out and looked for blood where he shot. It was bright red and easy to follow. I tracked him right to that rise in the field. He was right there probably 75 yards from the shot. I went back to the house and got the boys and the tractor, and the celebrating began. It was a great experience to share that with my two sons."

The buck, as you can see in the photo, has one unusual antler collection atop his head. “I think if the right side matched the left side, he’d be a 150-class deer. But as it is, I’m not sure how to go about scoring him,” Brad says.

How would you score that right side? Are those drop-tines, or part of the main beam? Perhaps we can get an official scorer to weigh in. In the meantime, Tyler Shelton has reason to be proud of one unique trophy buck, regardless of what it scores or how. Congrats to him from the Realtree Staff.

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