Blackpowder Monster

1 Keith Wherry of Cherryville, North Carolina knows it’s exactly 1,284 miles—one way—to the town of Ellis in west-central Kansas. It’s where he wanted to hunt mule deer. Instead, he disappointedly drew a whitetail tag, so the dedicated and meticulous 70-year-old muzzleloading hunter decided to make the solo drive there and back anyway looking for a giant whitetail.

Good decision—because he busted a Boone and Crockett class buck using his blackpowder rifle that many whitetail hunters would give their eye teeth for. 

After making the long and arduous drive to Ellis in late October, Keith hunted several days and saw many deer. But he didn’t spot the whitetail he wanted until one afternoon when he spied a big deer about a quarter mile away on an adjoining property. However, he did not have permission to hunt there.

3 The buck emerged from a very small 70X50-foot tangled jungle plum thicket, a place Keith almost couldn’t believe would harbor a giant buck. The thicket was in the middle of a CRP field, and Keith was sitting in a tree stand in a large, close-cropped milo field. The deer started toward the milo, jumped a fence on the property line, and made it fast to a draw about 200 yards away.

The buck was now on land Keith could hunt, so he decided to descend from the stand, and slip up the draw where the buck disappeared. The wind was good, and when he got to the draw, he spotted a doe looking right at him. Behind her, at 70 yards, was the massively racked buck. He waited on a broadside shot, but when the doe spooked it was time to make a move. Keith settled the crosshairs on the animal’s chest and squeezed off a shot with his .50 caliber muzzleloader.

The hit was perfect, and the buck crumbled. The .50 caliber, 250-grain saboted Barnes boat-tail slug (driven by 93 grains of Triple 7 powder) anchored deer—estimated at 275 pounds—on the spot. The 4.5-year old buck is a main-frame 10 pointer, with six sticker points jutting in many directions. The rack has an outside spread of 21.5 inches, inside spread of 18.75 inches. Main beam base circumferences are 6.75 inches. The deer has a green gross score of 195 7/8s inches, and is estimated by several official scorers to net in the high 180s after the official 60-day rack drying period.

4 (5) “I’m just a lucky guy, and a fortunate hunter,” Keith says humbly. “I’m blessed to have a wife and family who understand my passion for hunting; and doubly blessed to have been at the right place at the right time to down the buck of my lifetime.”—Bob McNally