Whale of a Tale: 412-pound Buck???

May_22_06 I just received an email and photo of this buck, which was supposedly killed last fall in a river bottom in Clarion County, PA. It purportedly weighed a whopping 412 pounds and was one of the heaviest whitetails ever killed in the U.S.

Smelling fish, I started googling. The deer first popped up on the Internet back in January. The story then was that a bowhunter had shot it on an Indian reservation in Nebraska in 2005. From the get-go state authorities doubted the deer was legit. If it was real, they were sure it wasn’t killed in NE. Word of a 400-pounder would have traveled fast.

In February Dennis Anderson, hotshot investigative reporter for the St. Paul Star Tribune (MN), got on the story. An Arkansas man named Stan Whitt told Anderson he shot the deer on a reservation, but he wouldn’t say which one because too many hunters would overrun the place this fall, hoping to cash in big like Whitt had.

Whitt said he stuck an arrow in the buck at 5 yards one November morning, but he couldn’t find the animal until the next day. When he retrieved it, it stunk and was bloated. No wonder, looks like a bloody 5-yard gut shot to me! Check the dried blood.

May_22_06_2 Whitt said he was bothered that people think his story is a hoax. He said officials on the NE reservation could vouch for him and the buck, though Anderson’s attempts to reach those officials were unsuccessful. Whitt also told Anderson he was hoping to get some sponsors from his big kill. He said he was wearing Scent-Lok, using a Lone Wolf tree stand and shooting a Mathews bow. “Please mention these products,” he told Anderson.

I agree with a guy who posted this note about the deer on a forum: “Raise the BS flag! Photoshop!" Yeah, and looks like one sorry chop job to me. Check the large “hero” photo; the deer’s cape is lighter, smoother and cleaner than the rest of the hide, and the cuts down near the brisket don’t line up. Why would somebody superimpose a very average 130-point head shot onto a gut-shot, bloated buck? Damned if I know, people do weird stuff.