posted on February 28, 2011 09:07
By Mike Handley
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.
When Russell Thornberry developed our measuring system, he recognized that not all deer can be classified as typical or non-typical. A lot of whitetails fall in between the two extremes, and our competitors force them to be one or the other, often to the deer’s detriment. Those in-between deer are why we have a semi-irregular category.
But Russ didn’t stop there. He created a fourth (perfect) category for those rare bucks that grow symmetrical racks also devoid of the irregularities that so often come with age. And if you look at the record book, you’ll notice there are far fewer Perfects – one in five bucks, to be precise – and most of those are the 3 1/2-year-olds taken by bowhunters.
I’ve always thought it ironic that the B&C system is based on the lowest common denominator in the whitetail world.