Freaks of Nature

June_29_06 A bunch of giant non-typical whitetails were killed last fall across America—we’ve profiled a good few of them here at the ZONE—and more will bite the dust this November—we’ll profile more. What’s up with all the freaks?

It’s weird because the average hunter hardly ever sees a palmated, drop-tined, multi-beamed, junked-up, 20-point-plus rack. I’ve hunted in 25 states and 4 Canadian provinces and have seen exactly 2, both of which I killed as fast as I could. You ever seen a big freak?

Weird racks are mostly about genetics. Dr. Grant Woods of Missouri feels that most all whitetail bucks have non-typical (NT) characteristics in their genes, though they generally don’t start to show till the deer are 4 or 5 or older. “It’s rare for a 6- or 7-year-old buck to be a straight up typical these days, especially on managed private land where there’s lots of food,” he says. Woods believes the world-record for NT whitetails (currently an almost unbelievable 333" ) will be broken several times before the Hanson typical (213") is topped.

Since 1950, many more typical racks (5,441) than NT (3,021) have been entered into the Boone and Crockett record book. But the freaks are on the upswing. From 1995 until present, more than 1,400 NT bucks were registered with B&C (as compared with 801 freaky racks in the book the previous decade). And remember, these figures don’t take into account the many thousands of junky, 3-beamed, drop-tined 140- to 190-inch goons shot by hunters the last few years. They are awesome bucks, just not record material.

The Heartland States, especially Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, are producing the most monsters by far. The region has river bottoms with fertile soils and thick cover, and sprawling fields of corn and soybeans. Plus, many landowners are planting food plots and passing up young bucks. The older the deer get, the more their racks grow wild stuff.

Good feed is helpful, but age is the number one freak factor. Take Saskatchewan, which has produced 34 non-typical B&C entries since 2000, along with God knows how many thousands of black, gnarly 180-inchers like the one I shot up there last November (see the photo of me with the 22-pointer; how cool are the 4 sticker points at the base of the main beams?). The soil is not rich in Saskatchewan where I got that monster, crops are non-existent and the growing season is short. But what Canada does have are tens of millions of acres of thick, sparsely populated spruce and fir forest. In spite of the cold and the wolves, a lot bucks live 5 or 6 years or longer in the bush and grow those big, weird racks we all dream about.

BTW, it takes a NT rack that scores 195 to make the record book. That’s a lot of junk.

My Quick Tip for the Day: Medical studies show your heart can reach 118 percent of its maximum rate when you’re fixing to shoot at any deer, even a doe. I really don’t know how to interpret that, only to say it’s thumping like hell, which you know is true because you’ve felt it too. Well, God bless your ticker if you see a big freak marching through the woods this fall. To calm down a bit, pull your eyes off that gnarly rack—once you know you’re going to shoot a buck, never look at his antlers again. Focus on a patch of hair, breath deeply and kill the beast as quickly as you can, before you start shaking and lose it.