As we reported last week, on February 13, the Boone & Crockett Club reviewed for a third time the world-class buck that Stephen Tucker killed last fall. It was officially granted a score of 312 0/8 inches. Prior to that, the largest buck ever taken by a hunter was killed in Monroe County, Iowa, in 2003. That buck scored 307 5/8 inches.
So the Tucker buck is the new world record non-typical white-tailed buck, right?
Until Monday, it was a potential world record. But it will not become the new world record non-typical whitetail. Many individuals and media outlets — both in the outdoor industry and outside of it — are claiming that it is, though. Even big names such as The New York Times have labeled this buck as the new world record. It's not. There is no world record for the largest hunter-harvested whitetail in either the typical or non-typical category, but just for the largest free-range whitetail, regardless of how it died.
Before continuing, allow me to say this post is not in any form or fashion being published to discredit Tucker’s giant 312-inch Tennessee buck that was taken in November of 2016. But there’s something virtually no one is saying. There are two white-tailed bucks that the world seems to have forgotten about.
The current world record whitetail was picked up in St. Louis County, Missouri, in 1981. It scored 333 7/8 inches. That’s more than 21 inches greater than the Tucker buck killed in 2016. Furthermore, the current buck in the No. 2 position — found dead in Ohio — scored 328 2/8 inches, which is more than 16 inches larger. Because of these two bucks, Tucker’s buck will enter the records book not as the world record non-typical, or even the runner-up, but as the third largest non-typical whitetail of all time.
That said, it is the largest non-typical ever taken by a hunter. Does that in itself make it truthful to call it the world record? Not exactly. The Boone & Crockett non-profit organization, a well-respected and revered conservation group, does not split hunter-harvested and picked-up deer into two categories. All deer, whether killed by a hunter or found dead, are included in the same category of the records book. Therefore, the Tucker buck would have to have scored at least 334 inches to become the new world record — a feat it came up 22 inches shy of.
"On this particular deer, the Boone and Crockett Club has not yet received all the information required to certify the official entry score, making media reports of its ranking premature, however the Club can confirm that the score reported in the media does not surpass the current world record non-typical whitetail deer from Missouri, which scored 333 7/8."
After the official score was tallied, it updated its official response by releasing this statement:
“Hunter, Stephen Tucker using a muzzleloader, took the deer from Sumner County, Tennessee, in 2016. Its official entry score into Boone and Crockett records is 312 0/8. This score surpasses a deer taken from Monroe Country, Iowa, in 2003 that scores 307 5/8, which was the largest hunter-taken non-typical whitetail and ranked No. 3 all-time. The world's record and No. 2 in the non-typical category were both picked up, or found dead and score 333 7/8 and 328 2/8, respectively.”
However, along with the rest of us, Justin Spring, Boone & Crockett director of big game records, has acknowledged this incredible deer for what it is — a true beauty and unbelievable representation of the species.
"All deer are unique in some form or another," Spring said. "This particular deer is unique on so many levels. What also makes this particular deer special is an entry score of 312 0/8 on only a 149 1/8-inch typical frame, which includes a modest inside spread of 14 1/8 inches. That's 162 7/8 inches of abnormal points."
B&C Fun Fact:
There have been 9,509 typical and 5,607 non-typical whitetails entered in the Boone & Crockett Records Program, but only 39 typical and 27 non-typical deer have originated from Tennessee. Most of those have been entered in the last few decades.
Again, we aren’t breaking this news to discredit or play down Stephen Tucker’s incredible achievement. We congratulate and commend his hard work and legacy as a deer hunter. Instead, we share this with you, our loyal readers, because we strive for the utmost accuracy and truthfulness as a trusted and leading outdoor media source. And we want to set the record straight on what so many within — and outside of — this industry have gotten wrong.
I can’t speak on behalf of the Boone & Crockett Club. But I assume the reason why all free-range whitetails, regardless of how they met their end, are entered into the same category is because it’s about the whitetails themselves. It’s about the resource more than the hunters that kill them. And it's somewhat disheartening that so many have forgotten about the 333 7/8-inch buck from Missouri and the 328 2/8-inch buck from Ohio. Because the day that it becomes more about us as hunters than the resource — or heaven forbid, dubbing it something it's not just for the sake of more page views — is the day we fail ourselves, those who came before us, and all to come afterward. But most importantly, it’s the day we fail the white-tailed deer.
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