The Michigan DNR will do an age analysis, but Guenther says his initial examination of the buck's teeth leads him to think it was 4 ½ years old. "I can't imagine what he'd have been like next year."
The Michigan DNR will do an age analysis, but Guenther says his initial examination of the buck's teeth leads him to think it was 4 ½ years old. "I can't imagine what he'd have been like next year.".
This 240-class buck found dead on a 10-acre property west of Clinton, Michigan, on Feb. 7 is potentially the highest-scoring whitetail ever recorded in the state’s record book. The 26-pointer boasts 31-inch main beams and a 28 6/8-inch inside spread. This is the story of a fallen monster.
Credit for the find goes to Sharon Weidmayer, who was walking her dog when she saw the buck near a creek that bisects her property. “It’s a 10-acre plot on an old horse farm with an overgrown pasture and apple orchard,” says Mike Guenther, the son-in-law of the man who would ultimately end up with the rack. “It’s farmland that has grown a lot of houses lately.”
Weidmayer called Ron Waldron, Guenther’s father-in-law, to ask if he wanted the deer. “When he walked up to the buck he told her, ‘That’s no deer; it’s an elk,'” Guenther says with a laugh. “Then he called me and said he had a 20-pointer he wanted to show me. I didn’t believe him at first, because he’s always messing with me. Then he brought it over and my jaw hit the floor. Holy cow! He had this monster deer in his hands.”
Later, a Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputy issued Waldron a permit to possess the deer. “After he gave us the permit, we asked if he wanted to see the deer. When we popped open the tailgate he about crapped his pants,” says Guenther.
Dennis Sheats, an official scorer for Commemorative Bucks of Michigan, keepers of the state’s official record book, green-scored the buck at 257 4/8 gross, 247 6/8 net non-typical. The buck will be officially scored 60 days from February 7. According to Sheats, the buck will be entered in the “All-Time Special” category, where it’s expected to top the current No. 1 pickup buck, a 236 1/8. It is also likely to post a dry score higher than the current state-record non-typical, a 238 2/8 shot in 1976.
The Michigan DNR will do an age analysis, but Guenther says his initial examination of the buck’s teeth leads him to think it was 4 ½ years old. “I can’t imagine what he’d have been like next year.”
The buck was found in Lenawee County, where landowners have banded together to form a Quality Deer Management co-op, according to Guenther. “They asked me to bring it to their meeting, and everyone was just floored.”
“One guy at the meeting had shot a buck that grossed 205, and one of his buddies held it up to compare. He said, ‘Man, I finally shoot a 200 and you make it look like a basket rack.’ I kind of felt bad for the guy,” Guenther jokes.
Weidmayer found the buck 150 yards from her house, its bones picked clean by coyotes. “I think he got so rundown rutting and chasing does that either he died on his own or the coyotes brought him down,” Guenther says. “The coyote tracks were fresh and there was meat on top of the snow. I don’t think he’d been there long. Two of the deer’s front teeth were broken off and lying on the ground. He must have gone down hard and stayed down right where he fell. We looked him over good, and there was no broadhead, no broken bones, and no hole in his hide, which was intact on one side.”
These photos of the buck in velvet were taken in July by a neighbor of Weidmayer’s, 15-year-old Madison Randall. “You can see he had a big old fat body then,” Guenther notes.
Weidmayer’s property is on the other side of the fence line. The spot where the buck was found dead is about 100 yards beyond those trees.
“Most of the neighbors are big-time deer hunters,” Guenther says. “I feel kind of bad for them, because I know how hard I hunt and how I’d feel if I’d seen a deer that big and not been able to harvest it, then had it die right on the other side of my fence. But on the other hand, the deer outsmarted all the hunters and died on his own. That’s kind of neat, too.”
This shed antler found last winter about 50 yards from where the buck died shows how far he’d come in a year.
“It’s got the split brow tines, and the back brow tine has a little curl on it. He added two stickers on front this year, but one is identical,” Guenther said. “The shed is broke off just past the G2, but the G2 is the same, twisted and kind of bladed with a sticker out the back.”
Other signs of the big buck’s presence included a series of massive rubs, like the one on this thornbush.
Guenther began hunting with his dad before he was old enough to go by himself, and he’s already started taking his 7-year-old son, Derek, shed-hunting.
“Derek is definitely big into hunting.” says Guenther. “He’s got his own bow and shoots all time. He thinks this rack is great.”
Guenther says it’s hard to pick one thing that impresses him most about the rack. “It’s got main-beam length, it’s got tine length and the mass is unbelievable: It’s thick all the way out to the end. The biggest thing is probably the spread and the main beam length, but it’s got everything.”
“Actually, it’s fairly symmetrical for as much junk is on it,” Guenther adds.
“We have possession of the rack, but we consider it more a community thing,” Guenther says. “The first weekend we had 200 people come through our barn looking at it. Last Sunday, when we got it back from getting cleaned up, another 75 people came over. It’s just an amazing find, and it’s been nice to have everybody share it.”