World class whitetail bucks are not easy to come by in the wild. The odds are against most whitetail deer ever finding enough nutrition and avoiding predators long enough to grow a massive crown capable of dethroning the top spots in Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young’s record books. You have better odds of getting rich in the lottery than you do killing something larger than the James Jordan buck, the Stephen Tucker buck, or the Tony Lovstuen buck. For every lucky hunter who downs a world record whitetail, plenty of others get away. Sometimes these bucks leave behind shed antlers or they are found dead of natural causes later. Either way, they leave the whitetail world wondering what could have been if some lucky hunter had harvested the record buck while it was still alive and well.
Just to illustrate how it’s far more likely for a world record to escape hunters, here are just a few wild, monster bucks who managed to avoid hunters their whole lives. Many of these deer would likely be a new world’s record for a hunter-harvested whitetail had they not simply disappeared or met their ends via some other means.
The Hole-in-the-Horn Buck
The deer hunting world was still reeling from the idea of a whitetail buck growing more than 300 inches of antler after the revelation of the Missouri Monarch back in the early 80s. Then the Hole-in-the-Horn buck, perhaps the most famous buck of all time, was scored in 1983. Like the Monarch, this buck had been found dead. The only difference was this deer had been found more than 40 years earlier in 1940 near Windham, Ohio. Up until Dick Idol relocated the buck and made it public, the deer was known only to locals who frequented a smoky bar in Kent, Ohio where it hung on the wall. Exact details of the discovery are somewhat sketchy, but we do know he was found along a railroad right of way.
Some stories say an engineer spotted him from the train. Others say workers found him while working on the tracks. Another intriguing aspect is the hole in one of the drop tines that gives the buck his name. There are many theories to explain this, but most seem to accept the theory that the buck became tangled in a fence that bored a hole through the antler as the deer struggled to free itself.
This monster was later scored at 328 2/8 inches, making him the No. 2 all-time, non-typical whitetail. It could’ve been the world record for years had it been found and measured sooner. Some have speculated the Hole-in-the-Horn should be the world record, but the buck may have lost some significant inches after drying and shrinking in a smoky bar for 40 years. The world will never know for sure.
The Minnesota Monarch
Not to be confused with the Missouri Monarch, this is a buck that was actually known to some people while it was alive. Yet the buck’s remains were never actually found. Instead, this deer is known from a few photographs and three sets of the largest sheds ever recovered from a whitetail deer. The largest of the sets, from 1990, scores an eye-popping 310 inches without factoring in an inside spread, which can only be guessed upon. The right side of this deer scores over 180 inches by itself! This non-typical buck would have likely been a world record for a hunter-killed deer, if not the outright top spot in B&C’s record books.
The same landowner allegedly found all the known sheds from the Minnesota Monarch. It’s said the buck appeared at the feed he left out for the deer every February. Interestingly, the man who found the sheds has retained his anonymity all these years and eventually sold the sheds off to a collector.
In 1991, the Monarch vanished forever. No one is quite sure what happened to him. There are rumors he was shot by a female hunter that fall. But some believe that buck, which scored 228 4/8 inches to be the Monarch. The buck would have been an estimated 10 years old at that point, so his antlers would be going downhill. But without direct evidence to the contrary, we’d like to think the Monarch lived out his days and simply vanished into the wilderness, never to be seen or found again.
This buck may be the most intriguing of all deer that ever got away. It’s known by only a single set of sheds, which were brought to the public limelight by Oklahoma outfitter Tim Condict. He was scouring the central part of the U.S. for new hunting leases when he was led to a rancher in Nebraska who found them back in the late 1950s. The person who gave Condict the tip wasn’t kidding. The monstrous typical is conservatively estimated to net 218 inches! For those keeping track, that’s more than five inches bigger than Milo Hanson’s currently reigning world record from Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, non-typical points do knock the score down some. Still, this buck initially grossed over 220.
The rancher supposedly told Condict there were three whitetails of a similar size running the fall before he found the sheds. Other than the fact no one ever shot The General, we don’t really know much else about this buck. This is the kind of story that really makes a hunter’s imagination run wild, isn’t it?
The Knife-Handle Buck
There are very few details about this monster buck, which supposedly wandered around Iowa during the 1970s. The most common story says a farmer picked up the sheds and threw them aside near his barn. One day, a turtle trapper stopped to ask permission to use his land when he spotted the monstrous 8×8 set. Unbelievably, the farmer gave the trapper one of the sides and a bunch of other antlers he had laying around.
However, the farmer was saving the other side of this monster buck for a friend who made antlers into knife handles. Can you believe someone wanted to cut up a side of this world-class, 16-point set of antlers!
Unfortunately, the farmer wasn’t kidding. The antler really was partially cut up, destroying a piece of whitetail history. A chunk of the main beam was discovered years later after it was thought to be destroyed. We can’t know for certain what this buck would’ve scored, but a taxidermist later re-created the whole left side based on descriptions. People subsequently made estimates that it may have scored as high as 230, which would smash all typical whitetail records.
That’s the extent of what we know about this legendary animal. As far as we know, he simply vanished into Iowa hunting legend without ever meeting up with a hunter.
As you can see, world-record-sized bucks don’t come easy. It’s a lot harder for a big buck to go unknown these days, especially with the heavy use of trail cameras. However, a few of these bucks are incredibly obscure deer that make you wonder how many other mega-sized bucks have gone completely unknown for all these years?
The Kansas King
The story of this buck is much like that of the General. The main beams of this impressive whitetail reach out nearly 28 inches, and the antlers are as perfect as they get for a typical 6×6. At least six of this buck’s tines measure over 12 inches in length. The sheds were found near Liberal, Kansas in the early 1990s.
There aren’t a whole lot of other details about this deer out there, but we do know that he was never harvested by a hunter. Nor does it seem that any other sheds were found either the year after this set or the year before. However, it is estimated this monster may have scored 217 inches, which would have dropped the Hanson buck to No. 2 all-time. Once again, it’s the type of story that sets your imagination churning as you wonder whatever happened to this deer.
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READ MORE: THE MINNESOTA MONARCH BUCK: A WILD, WORLD RECORD WHITETAIL THAT SIMPLY DISAPPEARED
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