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Big Buck Central

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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

Young Guns

A trio of outstanding northern Missouri bucks was showcased in this space last week, testament to the caliber of whitetails to be found north of Interstate 70, which connects the dots of St. Louis and Kansas City. Even without poring through records, I know the Show Me State was among the top yielders of book bucks in 2010.

I failed to mention, however, that a fair share of last season’s gigantic deer were shot by unlicensed hunters ... as in those too young to buy a regular hunting license. Seems more and more deer hunters are taking advantage of the state’s youth hunt to take kids afield, and the little ones are making their shots count.

I’ve grown accustomed to writing at least one magazine story a year featuring a kid and a colossal whitetail from Missouri. This time around, even more ink will be dedicated to half-pints and their bucks with 10-gallon racks. Two of the best were taken by little girls named Morgan -- Wallace and Reed – on Oct. 30.

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Winter Bones

I suspect that when I examine all the entries from 2010, I’ll find Missouri among the top yielders of record-book bucks. I cannot recall a better season, quality-wise, for Show Me State whitetails.

The most recent giant to cross my desk was taken Nov. 16 by John Bruno of Macon, Mo.  His Randolph County 14-pointer – a mainframe 5x5 with a trio of forked points and a small kicker – carries a composite score of 194 6/8 inches.

The Bruno Buck is one of several that’ll be featured in Rack magazine next fall. Two others to look for are Justin Moenkhoff’s Lafayette County 17-pointer (207 4/8 composite), also a rifle-killed irregular, and John Cozart’s clean 6x5, which he arrowed in Macon County (180 4/8 composite).

These outstanding deer are but a very small sampling of what can be found north of Interstate 70, which connects St. Louis and Kansas City.

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Two New Records for Kansas

In the shadow of 2009, the best year on record for world-class whitetails, last hunting season wasn’t particularly noteworthy. But I know a couple of gents in Kansas who’ll say it ain’t so.

Both men shot new state records in 2010.

At 170 inches (not counting the 18-inch inside spread), the buck taken by Wesley Allen Eagleburger on Dec. 1 is not only the Sunflower State’s new No. 1 Perfect in the rifle category, but it’s also the biggest harvested there by any means. The Norton County specimen is a gorgeous 5x5 with one small kicker on the left side, altogether nearly 6 inches bigger than the previous record set in 1998.

Two months before Eagleburger earned his spot in the book, Tracy Atchison smoked a new No. 1 Perfect for Kansas in the blackpowder category. It tallies 163 4/8 (sans spread), 5 1/8 inches more than the previous king of the hill shot by David Prine in 2009.

The above scores might not sound impressive nowadays, when 200-inchers are far more attainable than they used to be. But mature whitetails rarely sport perfect antlers. The older a buck gets, the more likely its rack is to sprout a few stickers and kickers.

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A Giant Among Many

Michael Hanlon’s buck isn’t going to break any records, but it sure turns a lot of heads. If the velvet doesn’t get your attention, the left side’s tall tines and the right’s strange configuration — a three-point typical frame with an extra 22-inch beam on the backside — are sure to make you breathe through your open mouth.

Probably another corn-fed buck from the Midwest, right?


Ask any hunter to name the top whitetail states, the ones coughing up the most book deer, and the answers will likely include Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin and Iowa. I’d be very surprised if anybody mentioned Louisiana, which is where Hanlon arrowed his buck.

The Sportsman’s Paradise conjures many images: crawfish, bayous, alligators, killer hurricanes, LSU and Bourbon Street. Deer don’t really come to mind, but they should.

My introduction to the real Land of Giants came in 1999, when I met Cecil Reddick at a Tallulah, La., truck stop. We drove south into Vidalia, where Cecil (now the BTR’s regional director for Louisiana and Mississippi) measured a nearly 300-inch whitetail shot back in 1947. I was there to get the story.

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