Kevin Petrzilka was mending fence with his wife and his son Dillon, 20, when he got a call from his son Mason, 17. The message was blunt and straight to the point, Petrzilka recalls. "Saw a big buck. Gun jammed. Get home now!".
Could this 200-class 17-pointer shot Nov. 19 near Brainard set the Nebraska state record for a typical whitetail rack? It may all depend on the G-3s.
Kevin Petrzilka was mending fence with his wife and his son Dillon, 20, when he got a call from his son Mason, 17. The message was blunt and straight to the point, Petrzilka recalls. “Saw a big buck. Gun jammed. Get home now!”
Mason (left) was hunting in an old water tank on the family farm that has been modified to function as a deer stand. He’d just gotten to the stand around 4:30 when he spotted the buck and four does 200 yards away. He made a quick shot, missing cleanly, and his rifle jammed before he could get off a second.
When he got the call, Kevin immediately lit out for the home place, six miles away. “My boys know good deer. We pass up a lot of 140-class bucks, which you have to do if you want something like this,” he says. “And that stand is where Mason got a 169 3/8 buck two years ago, so it’s a pretty decent spot.”
Kevin and Dillon (right) picked up Mason, who had walked back to the road with his gun still jammed, and together they formed a plan.
Kevin set out with his Remington 788 in hand to walk the cedar-lined creek where the buck and does had disappeared. Dillon posted along a fencerow they figured the deer would head to after Kevin flushed him from cover.
As Kevin drove the creek edge, does poured out–but still no buck. Then, what he first thought was a late-departing doe headed out of the cedar cover into open pasture dotted with cedars. “I caught a flash of horn and figured it had to be him. I pulled the gun up and shot him…at 150 yards, and that was all she wrote.”
“When I walked up, Dillon was already there. He said, ‘Big, big, big,’ and he was. There was definitely no ground shrinkage. He’s a super nice, heavy, heavy deer.”
“When we loaded him in the truck we knew we had a nice deer, but we had no idea how nice. We went to a local place where we hang out sometimes, and people started calling people and the whole thing snowballed. The game warden and the taxidermist left the Ducks Unlimited banquet and came right over. Someone started measuring and said, ‘You’ve got 105 inches on one side–without the spread. You’ve got something here.'”
Official Boone and Crockett scorer Ricky Krueger tallied a green net score of 203 4/8, based on a green gross score of 220. “For a while people were talking world record,” Kevin Petrzilka says, “but those deduction add up pretty fast.”
But the Petrzilka buck could threaten the state record, if the green score stays above 200 after the 60-day drying period. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Department, the top typical is a 199 2/8 buck taken in Saunders County in 1993 by Vernon Virka.
After reviewing photographs, officials at the Boone and Crockett Club headquarters say the buck’s status as a typical could be called into question because the G-3s could be ruled abnormal points. “There could be a 20- to 30-point swing based on how those are viewed,” says Justin Spring, assistant director of big game records for Boone & Crockett. “If the G-3s are ruled normal, then you’re looking at a 200-class buck and a potential state record.” If the official dry score tops 200, it would be Boone & Crockett’s first verified typical since 2003, Spring says.
The man who scored the buck believes the G-3’s will be judged typical. “I think they’re gonna qualify because of where they are on the rack,” he says. “They look odd, but they do come off the top of the main beam. If only was like that, I’d be worried, but they’re pretty well matched so I’m confident.”
The 9 x 8 on a typical 7 x 7 frame boasts a 21-inch inside spread and 26- and 25-inch main beams. The longest tine, a left-side G-4, stretches 12 6/8 inches. “It pretty much filled up the whole score sheet,” Krueger says. “It’s a jaw-dropper. Any 200-inch deer is really neat, but when it’s a 200-inch typical and you put state record behind it, that adds a lot.”
Indeed, even Kevin Petrzilka–by all indications an unflappable sort who seems unlikely to lose his head over a big buck–says seeing his name at the top of the Nebraska record book would be pretty cool. “I never imagined it would be me, because I’m not a very lucky person. I’m just not. Until now.”
Kevin Petrzilka and his two sons, Dillon, 20, and Mason, 17, had to assemble quickly and literally chase down this monster buck of a lifetime. Mason was the first to spot the buck and took a shot that went wide. His gun jammed, forcing him to call his father and brother for reinforcements. After Kevin downed the buck, the attention and the measuring tapes came out, indicating Kevin’s trophy could be a new typical record for the Cornhusker state, if those G3s are typical, that is.