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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Short Hunt Ends with New PA Record

Try telling Joe Dellaquila Jr. that Pennsylvania’s relatively new three-point (on one side) antler minimum is a bad idea, and his eyes are going to fog.

The bowhunter from Ridgeway, Pa., has no problem with the restriction, especially now that a state-record 14-pointer is or soon will be hanging on his wall. He arrowed it on Nov. 2, 2010, in Elk County.

Having already put in a full day at his job, Joe was supposed to be doing some trim work on his home while the missus and their children were visiting relatives. But with the whitetail rut underway, he couldn’t stand not to be in the woods.

“It was like the deer were calling me,” he said.Because it was 5:00 by the time he settled into his stand, Joe decided to make the most of the short time available by rattling. Shortly after his second sequence, this wide-racked bull of the woods strolled past at 20 yards, all fuzzed up and looking to rumble.

The quartering-away shot was at 32 yards, and the buck’s only reaction was to fall over dead a few steps later.

Many people in that corner of Elk County had either seen or collected trail cam photographs of this deer. If not, like Joe, they’d heard and dreamt about it.

Ed Waite measured the buck less than a month after Joe broke the hearts of untold Elk County deer hunters. At 179 6/8 inches, it is Pennsylvania’s No. 1 Semi-irregular by bow, and that tally doesn’t even reflect the 22 1/8-inch inside spread, which gives the antlers a composite score of 201 7/8.

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Half Racks That Will Make You Say Ahhh

It took me 27 years to shoot a buck with two antlers that scored as high as the single shed that hit my desk last week.

The (left) antler came from Fulton County, Ind., found by Dan Fisher on March 10. It tallies 125 4/8 inches all by its lonesome, which makes it a runner-up to the Indiana record for an irregular shed and No. 10 in the world.

The best ever, picked up in Ohio, scored an even 146 inches.

Sheds rarely make headlines, at least if I’m writing them. The stories usually are well-looky-there short -- sweeter for the finders than for readers -- unless the bucks happened to be shot the following fall. But then I almost never see single antlers of such caliber.

This spring has apparently yielded some fantastic finds for hunters of cast-off antlers. Many were brought to Circle M Auctions’ annual Whitetail Classic in Dubuque, Iowa, last month, where antlers were bought and sold by the box. Several BTR measurers were on hand, and they’re still grinning.

Jackie McConnell, the regional director for that neck of the woods, might never be the same. He tells me the gang measured 10, 529 inches of bone in three days.

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Freshman Aces Deer Hunting 101

You’d better have lots of time if you ask 18-year-old Ryan Cox how he came to harvest the second-largest Missouri whitetail taken in 2010. The story of his 24-minute hunt might be short and sweet, but if he begins thanking everyone who played a supporting role, the list could rival an Oscar winner’s.

It’s not for me to decide who gets top billing here, but the choices are God, with whom Ryan bargained; his cousin, Brandon Craig, who told him where he ought to hunt; his father, Kelvin, who helped him set out trail cameras; brother Kris, who sent him the photo of the 21-pointer caught in front of one of those cameras; his best friend, Quentin, who helped him hang seven or eight treestands; and three uncles, one of whom shot a lesser buck just prior to the big one’s passing his stand earlier that fateful day.

The full story of Ryan’s November hunt will appear in the August issue of Rack magazine. But I’ll say this much now: The college student, who now lives too far away from the family farm to visit it outside of weekends, sure made the most of his limited time.

The gorgeous Harrison County 21-pointer is a mainframe 5x6 with Coke-can bases, a nearly 21-inch inside spread and almost 45 inches of irregular growth. An official score of 212 makes it the 13th largest ever felled in the Show Me State. Its composite score is a whopping 232 7/8.

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Resolve Rewarded with State Record

There are two good kidneys between David and Carol Gibson, thanks to her and a team of surgeons. But the eight years following the transplant -- which reduced her to one and gave him three -- haven’t all been good for the man from Pleasant Hill, Ohio.

David suffers from Crohn’s Disease, which is to say his intestinal tract has endured more natural disasters than Bangladesh. Osteoporosis has assailed his bones, neuropathy his nerves, and his feet and legs are mostly numb and subject to blood clots.

Having one good kidney among three (his own pair is riddled with cysts) has kept David alive, but Carol says her husband’s bone marrow is producing too many red blood cells, resulting in polycythemia.

Despite the litany of ailments that would shatter almost anyone’s resolve, David is not content to stay indoors during deer season.

That wasn’t so easy in 2010, however. The man who had given David permission to hunt his 90 acres went into a nursing home, and his family, concerned about liability, didn’t extend the privilege.

He finally gained permission to hunt another tract near Ludlow Falls, but the property was less than ideal. Cover was sparse, corn had not been planted, and the neighborhood dogs made quite the sport of chasing deer. Still, he managed to shoot two of the three whitetails he saw, which left him with one unfilled tag.

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