By Mike Handley
Ed Koberstein’s Alberta 20-pointer might be the largest Typical ever shot by a hunter. This year’s Golden Laurel Citation winner is the largest ever ‘not shot’ by a hunter.
The squirrels and mice in Phillips County, Kan., must have cataracts. The skinny little rodents probably roam the woodlots, head-butting trees and tumbling into stump holes while searching aimlessly for sustenance.
Justin Hogan, to the contrary, has 20/20 vision behind his baby blues.
Even at a distance of 100 yards, the deer hunter from Densmore knew that he was looking at antlers. They were practically glowing in the tall dead grass – where the buck had made its final bed in the weeks, perhaps even months, leading up to Dec. 6, 2003.
Justin, who already had filled his ’03 buck tag, was dutifully pushing out a creek bottom for some friends when he spotted the sun-bleached crown.
Photo: This world-class whitetail’s original cape wound up in the bellies of coyotes, and the antlers were bleached white. Taxidermist Tim Hager of Artistic Wildlife Creations breathed new life into the exceptional buck by using another hide and staining the rack.
“It stuck out like a sore thumb,” he said, as happy as if he’d squeezed the trigger. “I hunt sheds in the springtime, so I know what a set of antlers looks like ... The spinal column was nearby, but all the other bones were long gone.”
Well, at least the coyotes there aren’t blind.
Justin was merely curious, at first. He thought the rack was that of an exceptional 8-pointer until he reached the weathered skull. When he picked it up, he almost lost his breath.
“When I saw it was a 6x6, I thought HOLY MOLY!” he said.
The day’s fourth man-drive came to an abrupt halt following Justin’s discovery. He and his brother Travis rushed home to lay a measuring tape to the rack that both were certain would top 200 inches.
And it did, when the inside spread was included.
The brothers’ calculations were later confirmed by Dale Larson, whose own Sunflower State buck, “Dagger,” is the former No. 1 Irregular in the BTR’s compound bow category. Justin was stunned to learn that his find is a new world record Typical in the BTR’s pickup category.
That this extraordinary buck is a world record is just one reason it was awarded the 2004 Golden Laurel Citation. The Kansas pickup also is a strong argument for Buckmasters’ Full-Credit Scoring System.
Since inside spread isn’t included in a buck’s “official” BTR score, rarely does a typical-antlered whitetail fare as well under the Buckmasters system as it does under the Boone and Crockett Club’s. This buck is the exception.
Justin has not had the rack measured by B&C, but determining what it would score is simply a matter of calculating the deductions.
The antlers’ “gross” typical B&C score is 207 1/8 — compared to our “composite” score of 214 1/8. The difference lies in how the 7 inches of irregular points are treated. Under B&C, they are not included for typicals; Buckmasters includes every inch of antler, allowing the actual percentage of irregularity to determine in which category a rack falls.
The side-to-side differences total 10 2/8 inches. Add that figure to the 7 inches of abnormal points, and the rack would suffer 17 2/8 inches of deductions under B&C — making the “net” score 189 7/8.
The Kansas buck tallies an official 197 with us, sharing the No. 11 spot with Milo Hanson’s Saskatchewan whitetail among the world’s all-time greatest Typicals.
Milo’s buck, considered the world record Typical by B&C, might have the same amount of antler as the deer found by Justin. But it has 10 less inches of deductions and is 10 1/8 inches wider (27 2/8 vs. 17 1/8).
Of the 11 Golden Laurel Citations awarded since 1996, this marks the third time a Kansas whitetail has taken the prize. The first went to Jamie Remmers back in ’98. Dale Larson owns the second.
The GLC is awarded each summer to the most significant entry into “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records.” This marks the first time that deer hunting’s most prestigious honor has been bestowed upon a found specimen. To date, two rifle-taken deer have garnered the prize, as well as two by crossbow, one by blackpowder, and five by compound bow.