The world record for a typical whitetail is easily the most coveted of all the whitetail hunting records. For nearly 30 years now, Saskatchewan’s Milo Hanson has held the title with his 213 5/8-inch beast. Not that there hasn’t been plenty of close calls over the years. Several deer, like the Johnny King buck, were ruled out of contention on technicalities. But then there are other deer that eluded all hunters throughout their lives. Legendary whitetails grew to world-class sizes and then vanished, leaving only a few shed antlers behind to stir the hunters’ minds and make them wonder what may have been. Deer hunting is filled with “what if” scenarios like this, and the Kansas King buck is one of the biggest “what if” stories to come out of the Sunflower State.
Much like the story of “The General,” this great buck would likely have outscored the Hanson buck by as much as four inches. However, fate intervened in the form of a broken tine and the fact that we only know the deer’s measurements from two sets of sheds that he left behind. We know hunters were after this animal, yet he somehow managed to elude them and mysteriously disappear, never to be seen again.
The Legend of the Kansas King
According to an article from North American Whitetail’s Dick Idol in 1994, the story of the Kansas King began in the fall of 1992. At the time, the James Jordan buck held the typical world record crown and would for another year until Milo Hanson dropped his monster that November. Details on the full story of the King are a little vague, but we know at least one bowhunter knew about and pursued this monster near Liberal, Kansas, in 1992. We also know the hunter saw the buck several times. The beast just never closed the distance and offered a clear shot. Such is how it often goes for a hunter pursuing a monster buck.
Fast-forward to the spring of 1993. This is where the story gets even murkier. Mainly because Idol states that the hunter who pursued the buck is the one who found the sheds, but if you start digging around, you’ll find there’s another story of how the buck’s crown was discovered. The story goes that a rancher was checking on one of his stock tanks when he spotted the antlers nearby. This rancher wasn’t a hunter because the story is that he left the antlers behind! It is rumored the rancher’s son was the one who later realized the significance and retrieved them. Thus, the whitetail world got a glimpse at what might have been. Since then, numerous records have been made so hunters worldwide can appreciate this animal.
And what a buck he was! The two matched sides of the King show he was a nearly perfect 6×6. Although Idol notes the buck had snapped off his G1 and G2 tines on his left side at some point during the rut. A taxidermist later recreated these tines and repaired them based on a description by the hunter who pursued the animal.
There is a lot of speculation about this buck, but it’s enough to make a hunter’s imagination run wild. This buck’s main beams were 27 4/8 and 28 inches long, respectively. Many of the tines are above 12 inches, and the G2s were likely 14 inches. The unbroken right antler scores a staggering 98 4/8 inches all by itself! We can only guess at the length of the broken tines on the left side and the inside spread. However, most whitetail historians believe it was very likely an unbroken version of the Kansas King would easily gross 217 inches typical. The rack has no abnormal points either, so there’s an excellent chance it would have barely netted higher than Hanson’s 213 5/8-inch record.
That means had this buck been harvested before he broke those tines, Hanson may have never held the world record! That’s one wild “what if” scenario to think about all these years later.
The Other Set of Sheds
As if one set of sheds was not enough, there is a second set of world-class sheds from the same area that some hunters call the “Kansas Prince.” They were allegedly found in the same field as the King’s crown. While not nearly as large as the King, it’s estimated the second set would likely score around 201 inches. It’s exceedingly rare for any wild whitetail to break the 200-inch barrier, so the fact there are two sets of sheds from the same area is mind-boggling.
There is some disagreement among hunters about the Kansas Prince. While some hunters believe it is simply the King’s rack from the previous year, rumors swirl that a second monster ran around the area around the same time. There are rumblings that the two bucks often ran together and that perhaps it was the Prince who broke the King’s two tines in 1992. The idea of two wild, 200-inch typical whitetails clashing antlers is probably too unlikely to be true, but it’s certainly fun to dream about.
As far as we know, the Kansas King was never seen again after 1992 and presumably lived and died a natural death with no other sheds or antlers recovered. In November 1993, Hanson shot his buck and finally dethroned the Jordan buck for the number one spot. We imagine quite a few people who hunted Kansas in 1992 are probably still wondering what could have been. But hey, that’s why it’s called “hunting” and not killing. Some of these deer will get away, making for some of the best stories.
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