By Russell Thornberry
On Oct. 11, 1996, when Sam Collora of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, released his arrow, he made deer hunting history by bagging the BTR’s highest-ranking typical deer ever taken with a compound bow. In 1997, Sam’s buck, scoring 204 6/8, was awarded the Golden Laurel Citation, which is given annually for the most significant whitetail buck entered into the BTR. All who have had the privilege of viewing Sam’s majestic whitetail quickly agree that it is one of the most impressive ever taken.
While Sam’s buck is awesome, it is not score alone that makes it so. Yes it’s huge, but it is also a unique and graceful work of nature’s art. The lines and contours in the rack are aesthetically pleasing to the human eye as an art form, not just as a trophy that sends hunters adrift in whitetail hunting daydreams. At the time of this writing, several artists have acknowledged this fact with their talents, not the least of whom is Sam Collora himself.
Many people who know Sam Collora’s name associate him with the great buck he shot. But those who know Sam personally also know that he’s got more than his fair share of artistic talent. You can see it in his taxidermy work and his woodcarvings. So it came as no surprise when Sam decided to personally sculpt the head and shoulders of his great buck in clay, have a mold made and a limited edition of 30 bronzes cast. Never mind the fact that Sam had no formal training in sculpting. The artist in him said, “I think I’ll just do it!” And he did — quite well.
Photo: Sam Collora applies the finishing touches to his original clay sculpture of his great trophy buck.
In the meantime, the BTR was so taken with the qualities of the Collora buck’s great rack that we asked Sam for permission to use a rendering of his buck’s antlers as a part of the Rack magazine logo. Sam graciously obliged, and now each time you receive your copy of Rack, notice the set of antlers in the diamond on top of the letter “R” on the cover. That’s the Collora rack!
In addition to the Collora buck’s representation on Rack, a painting of Sam’s buck entitled “Stomping Grounds,” commissioned by Sam and painted by Iowa artist Dan Ranschau, graces the cover of the new second edition of “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records” (published in the fall of 1999).
Ranschau, of Cedar Rapids, conferred with Sam to accurately establish the terrain and setting for the painting, capturing the buck in its native habitat.
Photo: A limited edition of 30 bronzes were cast of Sam’s sculpture.
“Sam said the area was a combination of hilly hardwoods and pastureland,” Ranschau explains. “He said there were no visible croplands or buildings and very few, if any, pine stands. He talked about a fencerow and rubs the size of a man’s thigh. He also told me the buck was a very large-bodied deer. The terrain sounded just like my father’s land, so I tried to recall visual memories of home to sketch and gather photo references.
“ I chose to paint an old fence with some broken wire, just to add more character. I added little extras such as a turkey feather, a walnut and some old tree steps. Sammy Collora Jr. urged me not to forget to add a fox squirrel, so I did.”
Ranschau has subsequently published a limited edition of 950 3x27-inch prints of “Stomping Grounds” for those who would like to admire Sam’s buck as it appeared before that fateful day in October 1996.
Photo: A limited edition of 950 prints are available of Dan Ranschau’s painting of the Collora buck, entitled “Stomping Grounds.”
So, if you are as captivated with the Collora buck as I am, you have several whitetail art options. You can order a bronze cast of the buck from Sam, order your own limited edition print of Dan Ranschau’s “Stomping Grounds,” subscribe to Rack and see the Collora buck on every cover, or you can purchase a copy of “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records.” How about a bronze for the den, a limited edition print to hang above the fireplace, the new BTR record book for the bookshelf and Rack magazine to keep right beside your easy chair?
The Collora Buck Bronze
Contact Sam Collora
C/O Mrs. Doe Pee’s Buck Lure
603 Redbud Ridge
Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
by Dan Ranschau
P.O. Box 1302
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-1302
Fax (319) 362-2013