I had interviewed Stephen, a 27-year-old farmer, a couple of times previously and found him to be polite and humble, gracious and well-spoken, an excellent representative for hunting and hunters.
The most recent interview was no exception. Stephen promptly returned my phone call, and we spent a half-hour reliving his historic hunt and discussing how it has impacted his life.
The story appears in the current edition of Tennessee Wildlife Magazine, which also contains articles that involve a number of Wilson County residents. More on that later.
Stephen killed the giant buck last Nov. 7, the third day of muzzleloader season. He missed a chance at the deer on opening day when his muzzleloader mis-fired, but connected on his second chance two days later.
The massive 47-point rack easily eclipsed the state record and, after a mandatory 60-day drying period, was also declared a new world record.
The TWRA christened the deer the “Tucker Buck” in Stephen’s honor, and as word spread through social media and other outlets he found himself an overnight outdoors celebrity. He was a guest at a meeting of the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission where he posed with officials; he appeared at outdoor expos and other events; he was interviewed on TV, and his photo appeared on the cover of national magazines.
Inquiries about the world-record buck came from as far away as London.
Various outdoor-gear companies sought Stephen’s endorsement, and some estimates place the value of the antlers at $100,000 – perhaps more, depending on the market.
Asked if he has reaped a financial windfall, Stephen demurs:
“I’m still working every day, just as I always had,” he says with a chuckle, “and (wife) Caitlyn is still teaching kindergarten.”
Stephen, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on the leased Sumner County farm where he killed the deer, has been taken aback by the nation-wide – and even world-wide – attention.
“It’s been amazing,” he says. “I never imagined anything like this. It’s like a dream.”
“Stephen is a nice young man and a great representative of our state’s hunters,” says Ed Carter, Executive Director of the TWRA. “This couldn’t have happened to a better person.”
Locals featured: I contributed a second feature to the current issue of Tennessee Wildlife, assisted by Lebanon’s Roy Denney. The story about fall squirrel hunting is accompanied by two photos of Roy in action.
Lebanon’s Tim White, a veteran TWRA biologist and frog-hunting buddy, has an excellent story in the magazine about youth-oriented outdoors activities. Tim explains why they are vital to the future of hunting and fishing.
Chris Richardson, a Lebanon resident and TWRA official, is included in an informative feature about big-game poaching and the huge fines that can result – as much as $10,000 per animal.
Tennessee Wildlife Magazine and the information-packed TWRA Wildlife Calendar are free to holders of Sportsman’s Licenses and Lifetime Licenses. Others who want to subscribe can call 615-781-6502. Subscription rates are $10 for one year, $17 for two years and $25 for three years.