There has been plenty of talk in the hunting community the last few months about the Tucker buck. But the story of that buck is bigger than the measure of its antlers.
Last year Stephen Tucker, a 26 year old farmer from Gallatin, Tennessee was shelling corn with his uncle when the two men saw a buck…a BIG buck…a REALLY BIG buck.
It wasn’t deer season yet so Stephen put out game cams and studied the big deer. He catalogued its movements and habits. And he kept his mouth shut. No need to tell all the other hunters out there about the monster he’d found.
Saturday, November 5, 2016, was opening day of the Tennessee muzzle loading season. Stephen was in his blind, armed and ready…and there it was. There HE was. The buck was only about 30 yards away and totally oblivious to the man’s presence. It was every deer hunter’s dream. A huge buck, broadside, at close range, and Stephen was ready. He brought up his front-stuffer, carefully sighted in and sque-e-e-ezed the trigger.
That’s when the dream became every deer hunter’s nightmare.
“Pop!” No, not “Bang!” “Pop!” His rifle misfired. The cap went off but failed to ignite the powder charge. The big creature moved off, unhurt and unimpressed.
Later that same afternoon Stephen saw the buck again. This time it was 162 yards away, far enough that Stephen made the ethical decision to pass up a questionable shot.
Two mornings later, the young man was back in the stand when he heard a noise. He turned to his right and looked directly at the window of his blind.
It was closed.
Stephen slowly, carefully opened the blind’s window and saw…nothing.
So far, this is sounding like one of my hunts. Well, except for the possible presence of lots of antler in the vicinity. Yeah, that part was different.
Stephen turned back and looked out the window to his left and there it was, about 35-40 yards away. The big one.
This time everything went pretty much the way he wanted it to. He fired, and felt like it was a good hit. After a lengthy search, the buck was retrieved.
A preliminary measurement of the mass of bone atop the buck’s head told the tale. The monster was bigger than the current Tennessee state record by more than 50 inches. Of course, that number would have to hold through the required 60 day drying period, but no deer has EVER lost anywhere NEAR 50 inches during that time.
But that’s not all.
That initial measurement indicated that Stephen’s buck could possibly break the existing world record for a hunter-killed deer (307 5/8 inches) by about an inch.
Yes, the WORLD RECORD!
I’m sure that was one of the longest sixty day periods in the young man’s life as he hoped that the buck’s antlers didn’t shrink too much and that the measurement had been accurate in the first place. Oh, and that the bank didn’t get robbed.
That the bank didn’t get robbed?
I guess his banker must have been a close friend and probably a deer hunter too, because he allowed Stephen to keep the valuable skull plate in the bank’s vault so it wouldn’t get stolen.
Now THAT’S a banker with his priorities straight.
After the two month wait, the young hunter submitted the rack for measurement and, guess what. The preliminary measurement had been wrong. The new tally was 312 3/8. Yes, that buck from Sumner County, Tennessee, had broken the world record by almost five inches!
Our deer season opens this Friday with the inception of the bow hunting portion. I plan to get out to my blind as soon as possible. It’s a pop-up that looks identical to the one Stephen was in when he shot the new world record. Think there’s a chance for me?
Oh, when I just said Stephen’s buck is the pending new world record, I wasn’t exactly correct. It WAS the pending new world record for a whitetail taken by a hunter. BUT, it won’t be THE world record.
THAT honor belongs to a monster from Missouri.
I’ll tell you the story about that buck in a future post. If you think Stephen Tucker had some bad luck, wait until you hear THAT story.
(above) Stephen Tucker with the pending new world record hunter-killed whitetail deer.
(below) A little different view of the antlers.