1996: The Tony Fulton Buck

1996: The Tony Fulton Buck

By Russell Thornberry

Because he was pressed for time, Tony Fulton of Louisville, Miss., almost decided not to go hunting on the evening of Jan. 5, 1995. His wife, Rhonda, talked him into it.

A doe was the first deer to enter the green field Tony was watching. Apparently spooked by something she heard in the woods, she eventually darted back into the timber.

Tony could also hear what sounded like a buck thrashing a tree with its antlers, but he never really thought the deer would visit the food plot before dark. When it did, Tony was ready.

The buck appeared suddenly, apparently looking for the doe that had already gone. As if either nervous or eager to find her, the deer instantly broke into a run, stopping momentarily a mere 50 yards from Tony’s tree to get his bearings.

Though aware the deer had a large rack, Tony had no idea how many points it carried.

And he didn’t take the time to count them; he simply squeezed the trigger.

The buck ran into the timber after the shot, showing no apparent sign of being hit. When Tony followed the trail later with a flashlight, he found the buck hunkered down on all fours, almost as if it were resting.

Only then did he realize the 30-inch-wide, 48-point rack was exceptional. And even that adjective was an understatement.

At the time, the Fulton Buck carried more inches of antler than any whitetail in history, even a couple of inches more than the famous "Hole in the Horn Buck."

The buck was initially scored at 255 6/8 by a Boone and Crockett measurer, enough to make it the Mississippi state record non-typical. But when Vicksburg, Miss., scorer Tripp Stennett measured the buck for the BTR, he came up with almost 300 inches. And even then, he thought he might’ve missed something.

A year after Tony shot his deer, BTR founder Russell Thornberry put a tape to the rack. He, too, arrived at more than 300 inches. He called in BTR master scorers Ron Boucher of Vermont and Ken Witt of Texas to rescore the antlers a final time.

After 6 1/2 intense hours of intricate measuring and deliberation, Boucher and Witt arrived at a final "official" BTR score of 321 7/8 inches — almost three inches greater than the famous "Hole in the Horn Buck!"

Tony had never seen this buck before the day he shot it, but it had been spotted by others in the area. A law officer saw the buck run across the road in front of his car one night and said the buck had at least 40 points, and he was close. The buck actually had 48.

Other evidence of the great buck’s existence was unearthed after Tony shot the 5 1/2-year-old deer. A shed antler from the previous year was found in a cotton field a mile and a half from where Tony was hunting. The shed was unmistakably from the same deer, but slightly smaller.

Fulton’s world record buck hides the volume of antler he possesses to some degree. The mainframe 5x5 rack has an additional 38 irregular points that total 160 1/8 inches, but only seven of those exceed six inches (the longest is 9 2/8).

Another amazing fact about the rack is that there are only 1 7/8 inches of difference between the two sides’ totals — 160 on the right and 161 7/8 on the left.

While the rather short overall length of points make the Fulton rack’s score somewhat deceptive, the mass is obvious. The four circumference measurements on the right antler amount to 35 2/8 inches, and the four left ones tally 29 5/8 for a total of 64 7/8 inches! Put another way, more than 20 percent of the rack’s score comes from its mass.

"Even the most complicated irregular racks can usually be scored in a couple of hours," said Thornberry. "But Tony’s buck was an obvious exception. This rack forces the scorer to know his stuff and to draw on a complete knowledge and understanding of whitetail measuring rules and procedures. It’s clearly the toughest rack I’ve ever scored."

Hunter: Tony Fulton
BTR Official Score: 321 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 344 5/8
Location: Winston Co., MS
Weapon: Modern Rifle
Date: January 5, 1995 

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