“It’s not a typical non-typical,” said one of the Boone & Crockett Club judges who scored the massive 47-point buck killed by a Tennessee hunter last November, in explaining why the buck’s score will be reviewed next Monday as a Boone & Crockett Club official watches.
The rack was measured in January and was scored higher than the current world record for biggest non-typical ever taken by a hunter.
However, another session will take place beginning Monday morning as B&C Big Game Record Director Justin Spring looks on.
Stephen Tucker of Gallatin in Sumner County, harvested the buck during middle Tennessee’s muzzleloader hunt and it was green-scored at just over 313 points by Captain Dale Grandstaff, a B&C scorer and commander of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) district in which the deer was shot. After a mandatory 60-day waiting period, on January 13 the rack was scored again by Grandstaff and other scorers and it tallied 312 3/8 inches. The scoring system followed guidelines set by B&C, which bases its scoring on such factors as size, spread, number of points and mass.
The so-called Tucker Buck has an inside spread of 14 1/8 inches and its main beams were judged to be about 21 inches long. It had 22 scoreable points on its right side and 25 on the left side in what is known as a “cluster rack,” which is often difficult to score.
“It’s not a typical non-typical,” said Grandstaff of the Tucker Buck. “The left side is especially challenging because of palmation and points going everywhere. The main beams aren’t an issue, but the points coming off them and exploding into clusters also make it a real puzzle to score. Examples of this kind of rack are not easy to find. You’re scoring points that most scorers have never seen grown before.
“With a big deer like this, a lot of people might not agree with how you score a portion of the rack,” Grandstaff continued. “That’s why we called Boone & Crockett and wanted them to send somebody down [from its headquarters in Missoula, Montana] to witness the final measurement. They’ll say yes, that’s where it needs to be scored, or tell us to readjust the score to a score that is accepted by them.”
Grandstaff said Monday’s review session is expected to begin about 9 a.m. and last perhaps as long as six hours. Grandstaff noted that regardless of the buck’s final score, it will undoubtedly be a new Tennessee state record non-typical. The current record scored 244 3/8 inches and was also taken in Sumner County in 2000. Only 26 bucks meeting B&C’s minimum score (185 inches) for non-typicals have been harvested in the state.
“No matter what Director of Big Game Records Justin Spring says regarding the buck’s final score, I don’t believe any kind of deduction or change in scoring is going to take it below the state record,” Grandstaff said. “The only question now is if those difficult places [in the rack] we look at Monday will change our score and by how much, if any.”
The current non-typical record entered by a hunter is held by Tony Lovstuen. In September 2003, when he was 15 years old, Lovstuen shot a buck near Albia, Iowa that originally tallied 319 4/8 inches. It eventually was accorded a score of 307 5/8 inches by B&C judges.
As big as the bucks of Tucker and Lovstuen were, two bigger racks are on the records list, though not shot by hunters. The so-called “Missouri Monarch” found dead in 1981 outside St. Louis, had 44 measureable points and scored 333 7/8; Ohio’s “Hole in the Horn Buck,” also found dead along a railroad track in 1940, had 45 points and scored 328 2/8.
Because of its role in the hunting community as the primary big game records keeper, B&C strives for precision. Tucker stands to lose or gain thousands of dollars for the rack, depending on the outcome of the reviewing process. How much would a world record be worth? Whatever the market will bear, though it’s likely a world record would fetch more than just a rack that’s big and unique.
A few years ago, in North American Whitetail magazine, writer Les Davenport provided an antler-value chart that he compiled based on his experience and research. Davenport reckoned that a non-typical rack of 285 inches or larger is worth $50,000 or more; a typical rack of 200 inches or larger could be worth $20,000 or more. Various states also levy “replacement value fines” for deer taken illegally. In 2010, a poacher in Ohio illegally shot a non-typical buck that scored 218 7/8 and was forced to pay more than $23,000 in restitution. World records are in a class by themselves, however, and their value rises exponentially with their score.
Tucker’s monetary gain could come in the form of product endorsements from hunting equipment manufacturers, selling his story to hunting magazines and websites, book sales and lecture tours. There’s also the possibility that he might sell the rack to the highest bidder, or at least sell replicas of the rack while keeping the original. Bass Pro Shops owns the current Tennessee non-typical record.
In the last several years, deer hunting has to a certain degree become monetized. Millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent annually by hunters who want to feel the same sort of thrill and sense of accomplishment that Tucker must have felt when he first gazed down at the buck he had shot. Firearms, bows, ammunition, stands, scents, specialized clothing, cutlery, hunting lodges, travel expenses – all and more factor into the business of hunting.
Read Boone & Crockett's current official statement found on their website below:
"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."
Editor's Note (02/13/2017): Stephen Tucker's Tennessee buck was given a final score of 312 0/8 inches on Monday by a team of Boone & Crockett scorers, which was accepted by B&C Director of Big Game Records Justin Spring. As reported by Realtree.com last Friday, Spring was in Nashville to observe the re-measurement. That means the Tucker Buck is the biggest nontypical whitetail ever entered in the records book by a hunter and third on the all-time list. Tucker will be officially recognized for his achievement at B&C’s 30th Big Game Awards in Springfield, Missouri, in 2019.
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