Tennessee claims world-record buck

Andy Reed • Jan 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

After a required 60-day drying period, the non-typical antlers of a buck killed in Sumner County in November posted the highest score ever recorded.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has proclaimed the antlers a world record "pending" official confirmation by Boone & Crockett record-keepers. That confirmation is scheduled to take place at a 2019 B&C awards ceremony.

The TWRA expects the record to be made official, giving the state bragging rights to the biggest non-typical buck ever taken.

From the outset the antlers easily eclipsed the former state record, and the only remaining question was if they would break the world record as well.

The prior world-record non-typical antlers came from a buck killed in Iowa and scored 307 5/8. The antlers of the "Tucker Buck" - as it has been christened in honor of hunter Stephen Tucker - scored 312 3/8. The Tennessee buck beat the Iowa buck by a considerable margin.

Non-typical antlers grow down or sideways and tend to be gnarled, while typical whitetail antlers grow upward with separate and distinctive tines. Non-typical antlers usually have a lot of more points that typical antlers - 47 in the case of the Tucker Buck - and have a heavier mass. Records are kept for both types of antlers.

"I am so proud that a pending world record harvest has come from Tennessee," said TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter. "It means a lot to a lot of people."

Deer hunting is a big business, and big bucks are good for business.

Tucker, a 26-year-old Gallatin resident, killed the monster buck on Nov. 7 with a muzzleloader. The rack could be worth as much as $100,000 on the collectors' market. Endorsement fees from outdoor companies whose gear and products were used during the hunt could add to the bounty - as much as $1 million by one estimate.

Tucker, who farms the land in Sumner County on which he bagged the deer, said he has been awed by the experience.

"I have been truly blessed and am thankful," said Tucker, whose muzzleloader misfired the first time he saw the buck. He got a second chance two days later. That time his rifle fired, and hunting history was made.

The TWRA says the pending world record is testimony to the success of its Quality Deer Management Program. It is intended to allow more bucks to grow older, and thus grow bigger antlers, by protecting them while they are young.

A few years ago the state's buck limit was cut from three to two per season, and this past season the TWRA changed the definition of "antlerless" to protect more young bucks. In the past, a spike buck with antlers less than three inches long was classified as antlerless and could be harvested as liberally as does. Last season the definition was changed; if an antler nub is visible above the hairline, the buck is considered antlered.

Hunters can still kill spike bucks, but they now count toward the two-buck season limit.

"The key to producing more big bucks is to let more little bucks walk," said TWRA officer Dale Grandstaff who scored the Tucker Buck and steered it through the complex record process.

"If someone had killed that deer when it was a spike, we wouldn't be having this conversation now."

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