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  • December 24, 2008

    BuckTracker: Merry Christmas from My Deer Camp to Yours

    By Scott Bestul

    My wife and kids are Christmas lights fanatics. If it glows, twinkles or pulsates, they become slightly feverish and highly giddy. Holiday decorations are also known to incite the reverent “oohs” and “aahs” normally reserved for fireworks.
    Naturally, this condition has forced me to hang numerous electrically-driven phantasms on the eaves and porch railings surrounding my home. Next winter, I am going to shock them all and volunteer to take this decorations mania to new and loftier heights. I submit the following as Exhibit A, and hope to have something equally inspired and artistic displayed at the Bestul home next winter. Perhaps my Buck Tracker friends can supply me with further inspiration?

    In any event, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for dropping in to my electronic deer camp from time to time. Anyone still hunting out there?

  • December 23, 2008

    BuckTracker: Another Mystery Buck

    By Scott Bestul

    Well asking for help solved the mystery of a great Kansas buck last week, so I’m back with my hands out once again. I know nothing about this deer other than it is one gorgeous whitetail. The only email heading I could track down was titled “LaPryor deer.” Is LaPryor the hunter’s name? A town or region? The name of a ranch?

    I’ll take a stab at this being a Texas buck, mainly because the body and neck on this buck aren’t particularly huge and Northern-looking. Also, the cape and hair are sleek and short, which means the buck was shot either a) early in the season or b) in a region where whitetails don’t need thick hair for fall/winter survival. So if anyone can get me more specific than this, I’d be grateful

    Regardless of the buck’s origin, he is a monster; great beam length, tremendous tines (especially those G-2’s…WOW!), and very nice mass. Perhaps whoever steps forward with the buck’s (and hunter’s) identity could also provide a score?

  • December 19, 2008

    BuckTracker: Buck Meets Grim Reaper

    By Scott Bestul

    OK, this certainly isn’t hunting…but it is a unique buck “harvest.” The whitetail in the pics below met his maker in the form of a Midwestern combine. I think the photos are from Iowa, but haven’t been able to verify that. The nice buck managed to somehow get tangled in the combine heads and was dragged for some distance before the machine could be shut down and the animal dispatched. Apparently one of the farm workers took the buck so the meat wouldn’t go to waste.


    I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life and have never heard of this before. It’s not unusual for fawns to get killed when farmers make first-crop hay in June, but this is perfectly understandable as the primary survival mechanism of these newborns is simply to lay still and hope danger passes them by. Mature bucks are notorious for holding tight to avoid danger, but they’re usually wise enough to know when it’s time to bail. Maybe there was something wrong with this buck’s hearing?

    Note: In my last post I put up a photo of a huge Kansas buck of unknown origin. Fellow FS writer Steven Hill emailed me yesterday and said he’d talked to the hunter, who is Chad Christie. Chad shot the gigantic buck on December 5th, the 3rd day of the firearms season, on his family farm south of Lawrence. Chad says the buck scored “roughly 241 inches” and should rank among the top non-typs in that state. Congrats to Chad!

  • December 18, 2008

    Video Report: Minnesota Man Rescues Deer On Ice—Twice

    By Scott Bestul

    From WRCB TV:

    Smack dab in the middle of Lake Zumbro, a doe is trapped, not able to grip the slippery ice.

    With the wind-chill of 30 below zero, it could be a death sentence.

    A sentence Steve Breland won't see carried out.

    Be sure to check out the video.

  • December 18, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Texas Wardens Bust Black-Market Deer Dealers

    Wisconsin Hunters Donate 6,500 Deer

    Ohio Doe Gets Head Stuck In Bucket

  • December 17, 2008

    BuckTracker: Today's Two-Fer

    By Scott Bestul

    I usually devote this space to a single giant buck or unique story. But last night I attended one of my favorite annual Christmas parties, so I am feeling lordly with generosity and the spirit of the season. Today you get a double-bang…

    The first buck is actually a call for help. The multi-drop-tined monster below is said to be very real, was shot in Kansas, and (again, supposedly) killed by a non-resident hunter. That’s all I know. The pic has been floating around for a few days, and though I usually can pick up a lead or two on a deer, this one remains a mystery. If anyone can tell me anything about this buck (other than that it is simply huge), I’d be grateful.


    The second buck I know slightly more about. The hunter is actually a former student of mine, a reminder of the days when I taught high school English. I think I had Bobby Ernst as an apple-cheeked 8th grader. He is now considerably older, but is definitely better at killing monstrous whitetails than he was at 14…or I am now. If Bobby shot this buck near home, this whitetail lived only 50 miles or so from me. He may have killed it in another state, but my informant (also a former student) noted when he sent me this; “Bobby probably wouldn’t tell his grandma where this buck lived.”

    I guess the young man was paying attention in class, after all! Congrats, Mr. Ernst!


  • December 15, 2008

    BuckTracker: You're Such A Freak!

    By Scott Bestul

    I’ve covered freak whitetails in this space before (including antlered does and cactus bucks), but nothing—in my mind—that compares to the deer below. This whitetail arrived in a Maryland taxidermist’s shop recently and may very well be the strangest set of antlers I’ve seen.


    This buck’s antlers seem to be fused at the base. Indeed, even some of the “kicker” and “sticker” points growing well above the antler bases have grown together, creating a kind of huge, single “horn” that sprouted from this buck’s noggin.


    I know, I know…someone is going remind me that deer grow antlers, not horns…the difference being that antlers are shed and regrown each year. I get that, up, down and sideways.  I also propose that this is one whitetail that—had he not been killed by a hunter—would have wished that the monstrosity between his ears would have remained firmly in place come late-winter. What would that poor fella have looked (and felt) like when he shed this antler? Antlers? Horn?

  • December 12, 2008

    BuckTracker: Way Up in the U.P.

    By Scott Bestul

    For the last several years, Michigan has taken back seat to several of its Midwestern neighbors (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, etal.) known for their big-buck reputations. This, despite the Wolverine State’s long and storied reputation as a whitetail hunter’s state; when I covered the Great Lakes region for F&S’s regional pages (remember those?) some of the most knowledgeable and passionate deer hunters I interviewed came from Michigan.


    Well this buck—shot near the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) town of Newberry—should remind folks that Michigan can still produce a world-class whitetail. While the information I have is spotty, the buck was apparently green-scored by a B&C measurer at 197-3/8”, and sported 14 points, 27” main beams and a 24” inside spread. Apparently the buck was a “migrator” (UP bucks often leave their summer/fall home range and head toward wintering areas close to Lake Michigan) and was captured on trail camera three days before it was killed.

    Should that green score hold up, this UP giant will rank among the state’s largest whitetails ever shot by a hunter. Even if it doesn’t, I feel this is one of the prettiest typical bucks I have seen this fall.

  • December 11, 2008

    Michigan Whitetail Harvest On Track, Despite Bait Ban

    By Scott Bestul

    From The Flint Journal:

    If early estimates are any proof, it appears the controversial and much-dreaded bait ban has actually had little or no impact on the success of the firearm deer hunting season.
 . . .

    Many hunters had worried the ban would hinder their ability to get deer within shooting range. . . .

    Early projections indicate hunter success was very similar to last year in both the southern and northern halves of the Lower Peninsula where the ban was in effect, said DNR big game specialist Rod Clute.

  • December 11, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Michigan Lifts Ban On Deer Rehabilitation

    National Park Service To Cull 2,000 Deer Near Camp David

    Six Wisconsin Wolves Shot As Deer Gun Season Opens

    Mr. Buck Goes To School

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