On December 13, 2021, Logan Harlan carried a late-season buck tag onto New Mexico public land in hopes of finding a good-sized whitetail. After a few unsuccessful days with his dad Larry and sister-in-law Lorri, the group eventually eyed a large 6-by-6 on public land—a rarity in the heavily checkerboarded region they were hunting. Logan watched the buck for a grueling five and a half hours and belly-crawled a few hundred yards before eventually firing a shot with his 6.5 Creedmor. The buck went down instantly. This perseverance and grit shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows the Harlan family. They own a taxidermy studio and booking agency and, according to their Instagram and Facebook profiles, they live to hunt.
Whitetail deer aren’t exactly a top game species in New Mexico. Coues’ whitetails and Eastern whitetails, which New Mexico Game and Fish refers to as “Texas whitetails”, comprise roughly five percent of the annual deer harvest statewide. Mule deer make up the other 95 percent. This skewed ratio lends to a rather jarring statistic: Only two New Mexico whitetail deer have ever graced the Boone & Crockett record book.
Or, at least, that was the case until Harlan took his shot in late 2021. After the requisite 60-day drying period, his typical 6-by-6 scored 176 ⅞ inches. This score would have been even higher had the buck not broken off its left main beam, but it was still enough to edge out the previous record holder, Samuel Beatty, by a half-inch. (The scarcity of New Mexico whitetails is so extreme that B&C doesn’t maintain non-typical records in the state even though the first two record-book whitetails were 6-by-5s.)
This is usually the moment where the hunting media frenzy hoists Harlan in the air and celebrates his success. But that didn’t happen in February 2022, when the drying period would have ended and the record would have changed hands. In fact, not many people really knew about the buck until North American Whitetails published the first known article about Harlan’s hunt on July 17, roughly 17 months after the drying period ended.
It’s unclear why it took so long for the story of Harlan’s buck to surface. As of right now, NMGF hasn’t updated the record book on its website. (NMGF didn’t immediately respond to OL’s requests for comment.) But Harlan’s name and scoresheet now reside in the B&C book at the top of the New Mexico records, right where they belong.