An impressive new entry was added to the Pennsylvania Big Game Record Book last month. Hunter Matthew Lingle killed the buck in Centre County last November, and an official scorer with the Boone and Crockett Club scored it on Feb. 2. The buck’s final score was 203 3/8 inches, which ties it for the ninth biggest non-typical whitetail ever killed with a firearm in the state.
Lingle did not respond to requests for comment, but Outdoor Life was able to get in touch with Doug Garrison, who scored the buck in February. He lives in Snyder County and serves as vice president of the local chapter of the National Deer Association. Garrison has been an official B&C scorer since 2008, and in all that time, he says he’s never handled a set of antlers like this one.
“I’ve probably only scored two or three deer that made the Boone and Crockett Book. Period. That’s typical or non-typical,” Garrison explains. “And this was the first 200 that I’ve seen.”
Garrison says that NDA’s chief conservation officer Kip Adams reached out to him last December to see if he could score the buck after the mandatory 60-day drying period ended. He says that after seeing a photo of the deer, he knew that he wanted another scorer there to help. He ended up contacting Dave Aumen, a close friend, and the president of the local NDA chapter.
“Non-typical whitetails are probably one of the hardest [animals] to score because you have to make some judgment calls,” Garrison explains. “So I reached out to Dave, and he came down to assist me so we could discuss some things, and so I could have a second opinion.”
Garrison says that even with two official scorers there, the hunter was still a little disappointed that the buck didn’t receive a higher score. He explains that Lingle “didn’t understand that a non-typical gets deductions just the same as a typical”—which he says is a common misunderstanding among hunters.
And although the hunter declined to share the story of how he harvested the buck with OL, Garrison shared a couple of key details that he remembers from his conversation with Lingle. For starters, Lingle killed the buck on Nov. 27, which was the opening day of Pennsylvania’s 2021 regular firearm season. Garrison says Lingle had been keeping track of the deer on a trail camera for at least four years, but that he had only captured a handful of photos of the buck during daylight.
Garrison says that Lingle was in the blind with his daughter when the buck showed itself briefly and then left. He went back to the same spot by himself later that evening, and the huge deer stopped within 40 to 50 yards of the blind, giving Lingle the only opportunity he needed to drop one of the biggest bucks in state history.
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Looking at the Pennsylvania Big Game Record System for non-typical whitetail bucks taken with a firearm, only 15 bucks have ever been recorded that reached the 200-class. Three of those deer were killed before 1950, and only four were tagged in the last decade. Lingle’s buck is currently tied for ninth alongside Virgil Kidd’s buck, which was harvested in Lehigh County back in 2009.