In a recent post I told you about Stephen Tucker and the world record buck that he harvested in Sumner County Tennessee last year. It was a great story about a great guy shooting a great deer. There’s only one problem. As I said in that post, Stephen’s world record isn’t THE world record. It will soon enter the book as the world record for a buck taken by a hunter but THE world record, the buck that carried the most antler EVER for a whitetail deer was not killed by a hunter.
This is the story of a buck widely known as the Missouri Monarch. Some people call him Momo. Others refer to him as Momo the Monster. That last moniker might be the most descriptive.
The absolute world record buck died in his middle age. Well, for a deer. He was about 4 ½ to 5 ½ years old.
And he was handicapped. Due to an injury incurred early in his life, the Monarch’s lower jaw had sustained an infection that caused it to grow deformed, and for the lower incisor teeth to fall out. A representative of the Missouri Department of Conservation said that the Monarch’s infection and tooth loss could have been due to a canine bite when he was young.
He was found about seven miles west of the famous St. Louis Arch. Now, the arch is on the east side of St. Louis, beside the river. That means the Missouri Monarch was a virtual city boy…or, buck.
The second day of the firearms deer season of 1981 was a lucky one for Dave Beckman of St. Louis. The farmer was on his way out of Columbia Bottom with a deer he had just bagged.
He was driving past Pipefitters Union when he spotted something through the chain link fence surrounding the union’s property.
“It sort of looked like antlers,” he explained. But it couldn’t have been. Antlers don’t grow that big. Beckman added, “So I went over for a better look.”
And look he did. A dead buck lay against the fence and boy did it have antlers!
Responsible hunter that he was, Beckman went home and rinsed out the deer he’d harvested earlier, then went back to the Columbia Bottom check-in station where Conservation Agent Michael Helland was working. Beckman told the agent about the buck he’d found and the two men went back to get it.
Here’s where Beckman’s lucky day took a not-so-lucky turn.
In 1981 Missouri fish and game laws had no provision allowing finders-keepers, at least as far as deer antlers. Agent Helland was required to claim the big deer for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Beckman got a thank you for his honesty.
Later, someone in the department recognized the uniqueness of the buck’s antlers and had them measured. The mass of bone on the critter’s head scored nearly 50 inches MORE than the current world record! It tallied an incredible 333 7/8 inches. The rack had an inside spread of 25 1/8 inches and weighed 11 1/4 pounds.
Now, think about that. Deer grow their antlers in about seven months. That means Momo grew 11 ¼ pounds of bone in only seven months.
Not only that, but the Missouri Department of Conservation reports that the buck’s bodyweight was about 250 pounds. Though not unheard of, that’s pretty big for bucks in the area.
One has to wonder just how big Momo could have been if he had been 100% healthy. Oh, and how much antler could he have produced?
The answer to that is he may have grown bigger, but his antlers probably would have been smaller. Biologists with the D.O.C. say the impressive antler growth may have been due to a bite from a coyote or dog when the deer was young. The bite got infected and caused the deer’s lower jaw to deform and its lower incisors to fall out. The body fought the infection by trying to heal it, including growing extra bone, as in extra large antlers.
The deer that became known as the Missouri Monarch was declared the world record by the Boone and Crockett Club, which keeps track of such things. Since then, no other buck has come anywhere near to knocking Momo out of the number one slot. The impressive Tucker buck I wrote about recently fell short by 21 ½ inches.
But what about Beckman? Well, as I mentioned earlier, Dave Beckman was not allowed to claim the buck, which means he lost out on all the fame and fortune the world record buck could have meant to him.
The D.O.C. has realized a lot of money from allowing the deer to be displayed and from selling prints of artist’s renderings of what the Monarch would have looked like when he was alive. The money the big deer has brought in has been applied to various programs the department oversees.
The conservation department was kind enough to give Mr. Beckman one of the prints.
To be fair, the Missouri Department of Conservation was forbidden by law to give Beckman ownership so they were doing what they had to.
A few years back the department agreed to let a limited number of reproductions of the record buck’s rack be produced, and said that they planned to give Beckman one of them.
Maybe his luck has finally turned around. After all, it’s only been a little over 30 years.
Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation
This is the world record non-typical whitetail, as recorded by the Boone and Crockett Club. To really appreciate how huge the Missouri Monarch actually is, you have to see it in person. The Missouri Division of Conservation displays the original at their main office in Jefferson City, Missouri. The world headquarters of the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri had one a few years back, although it was not on display the last time I looked.