Sunday, January 29, 2012

For Ian

The world's record 78-point whitetail deer was found in McCullough County, Texas in 1892.

It may seem that there are as many names for this trophy Texas whitetail as there are points on his head, and stories too.

Since the 1890s, he has been called the Brady Buck, the McCulloch Buck, and the Benson Buck, and the 78-Point Buck.

But whichever gets ascribed to him depends on which set of antlers he grew. A pair of his sheds has scored 286 (Boone and Crockett) points, while the antlers that stayed with his skull got a 284 3/8.

A full-body replica of the smaller version will be on display at Texas’ third Cabela’s store, which opens April 14 in Allen.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories and I don’t know which one is true,” said Mark Dowse, taxidermy manager for Cabela’s, who acquired the mount from a museum in Arkansas. “I can’t give you a clear picture of what happened.”

Jack Reneau, of the Boone and Crockett Club, is also short on details.

But what he can tell you is that the deer ranks 9th in the club’s records for non-typical whitetails — a category that currently holds 4,374 entries.

Fortunately, deer historian John Stein of Bulverde has done some serious detective work on the buck, which was first celebrated by cowboys gathered around fires and chuck wagons during the early 1890s, near the town of Brady, smack in the “Heart of Texas.”

“A lot of people claimed they saw this deer on a hill on the Ford Ranch in McCulloch County,” Stein said. “A cowboy said he shot it and could never find it, and no one believed him because he drank.

“But the ranch foreman, Jeff Benson, went and found the sheds. One day he put them in a store in Brady to display them for sale.”

Enter Albert Friedrich who, a decade earlier, opened the Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio.

Friedrich was always looking for unusual antlers and, upon hearing about the McCulloch County deer, took a train to Brady to see for himself.

He paid $100 for the sheds. The resulting shoulder mount is still the “signature” of the Buckhorn’s extensive trophy collection, said Nathan Henges, the saloon’s current operations manager.

Meanwhile another shoulder mount with a strikingly similar rack showed up in a saloon operated by Billy Keilman, a competitor of Friedrich.

Stein said Keilman was infamously known for publishing the “blue book” — a directory and rating system for San Antonio prostitutes.

Friedrich tried to buy Keilman’s trophy, but he wasn’t successful until his competitor finally needed the money.

There is no question that both sets of antlers came from the same deer, Stein said, because both were said to be from the vicinity of the Ford Ranch.

The chances of two deer having such similar racks are nearly impossible, said Stein, who also is a B&C scorer and curator “emeritus” for the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum.

Friedrich passed away, but the racks received B&C scores in the mid 1950s when Grancel Fritz, who helped develop the club’s scoring system, came to San Antonio to see them.

Friedrich’s original 78-Point Buck had the score of 286, and the slightly smaller 72-pointer from Keilman was scored at 284 3/8. They ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world.

Then there were a couple glitches.

In 1957, while the trophies were getting new skins, it was discovered the bigger one was made from sheds, which disqualified it from B&C.

But officials mistakenly dropped the 72-Point Buck from the club’s records.

It wasn’t until 1996 when Stein was examining the trophies that he saw that Friedrich’s original 78-pointer was the one made from sheds. The smaller rack, still attached to the skull, subsequently became the B&C-recognized deer.

The actual slayer of the buck was never recorded, Stein said.

But there’s no denying this was an extraordinary deer, having thrived without modern benefits of predator control, supplemental feeding and high fences.

“He was probably 6 and a half, maybe 7 and a half years old,” Stein said. “He was the product of the right buck getting with the right doe … the right food, age … just a free ranging wild deer.”

The Circus "NO SPIN ZONE": The Boone and Crockett Club


Anonymous said...



Wade G. Burck said...

I wish I would have studied the mount a little closer when I saw it. My understanding(someone correct me if I am wrong, please) is that a "point" has to be at least an inch long. I don't really know if some of these are, but I sure am not going to dispute Boone and Crockett. That would be like disputing RJR on Ringling menagerie animals. Wouldn't make sense. :)


Anonymous said...

I know, unusual as it is I could maybe count about 38 - the rest must be bumps, so I don't know what the criteria is.

Reminds me of John Kerry's claim to have shot a 16 point buck on Cape Cod (when the Massachusetts record is 12 point) - that Kerry is such an outdoorsman isn't he?

Check out this, more recent record breaker


Wade G. Burck said...

Half a million dollars for a record rack breeding buck!!!! Make's you wonder what the 3 horned rhinoceros would be worth, if proven to be a three horned producing sire? Odder still is a doe with a monster rack

Teddy Roosevelt wished he was half the outdoors man John Kerry is.......