The Outdoor Life Book of World Records

Default Photo


YOU’RE PROBABLYNOT ACQUAINTED WITH SIR HUGH BEAVER. BUT YOU CERTAINLY KNOW HIS BRAINCHILD. In1951, Sir Hugh was hunting with a party in Ireland. Someone in the group shotat, but missed, a golden plover. This prompted a discussion: What is Europe’sfastest game bird–the golden plover or the red grouse?

Sir Hugh concludedthat a book supplying answers to such questions might prove popular in the pubsthat sold his company’s products. You see, Sir Hugh was managing director ofGuinness Brewery, and his brainchild, as you probably have guessed by now, isthe best-selling copyrighted book of all time, the Guinness Book ofRecords.

Hunters andanglers have always loved discussing superlatives. No matter where weare–casting plugs on a bass lake, walking up quail on a plantation or sharinga few beers around a poker table when the day has ended, the conversation islikely to turn to the extreme aspects of the hunting and fishing sports weenjoy. To stimulate such tasty dialogues wherever OUTDOOR LIFE readers gather,we present the following randomly chosen morsels, sure to nourish the intellectand satisfy every appetite.

Oldest TaggedFish Fisheries biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation have beentagging and recapturing shovel-nose sturgeon on the Missouri and Mississippirivers for decades to learn more about these prehistoric fish. This long-termeffort was rewarded in late 2002 when biologists recaptured a fish that wastagged by one of their predecessors an incredible 24 years earlier. The 4-poundsturgeon turned up in a net in the Missouri River near Jefferson City, 119miles from the original tagging site at St Louis.

MostFrequent-Flier Miles A northern pintail banded in September 1940 in Athabasca County, Alberta,Canada, lived until January 1954, when it was shot near Macuspana, Tabasco,Mexico. Considering the 3,000 miles between band site and death, and assumingthe bird made the two-way migration each year for 13 years, the pintail wouldhave logged nearly 80,000 migration miles during its lifetime.

Biggest WhitetailRack On September 29, 2003, in Monroe County, Iowa, 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen killeda huge non-typical whitetail with his muzzleloader. The rack tallied 307 5/8Boone and Crockett Club points, making it the highest-scoring whitetail rackever taken by a hunter.

HeaviestWhitetail On a cold November day in 1926, Carl Lenander Jr. dropped a monstrous Minnesotabuck with a single shot. Field-dressed, the deer weighed 402 pounds. The stateConservation Department calculated its live weight to be 511 pounds. No heavierwhitetail deer has ever been recorded.

Widest AntlersEver The Irish elk, which became extinct 7,700 years ago, was the largest member ofthe deer family that ever lived. A mature stag stood up to 7 feet at theshoulders, could weigh more than 1,500 pounds and carried antlers that measuredas much as 14 feet from tip to tip. Fossilized remains of the giant elk,including their antlers, are on display in some European museums.

Biggest BlackBear A 10-year-old male black bear shot in North Carolina in November 1998 weighed arecord 880 pounds.

Heaviest PolarBear A polar bear weighing 2,210 pounds was shot at Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, in 1960.Displayed at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, this 11-foot specimen was thelargest of its kind ever documented.

QuickestTraveler A tagged great white shark swam from South Africa to Australia and back inunder a year. The female shark was tagged with a data transmitter off SouthAfrica in November 2003. The unit detached automatically and was recovered offwestern Australia four months later, but the story didn’t end there. In August2004, five months after the transmitter bobbed to the surface, project researchscientists spotted the shark–identifiable by a pattern of notches on itsdorsal fin–back in its old haunt off South Africa. It had completed a roundtrip of 12,500 miles in nine months.

HeftiestRetriever Nineteenth-century English hunter Richard Toomer trained a Berkshire sow tohunt birds. Slut, as Toomer named her, could catch bird scent from 40 yards,stop and alert her owner with snorts and head shakes that game was near. When abird was shot, she fetched it. The unusual retriever weighed 700 pounds.

Most ConsecutiveRod and Reel Casts Georgia’s Brent Olgers established a world record for longest period ofconsecutive casting in July 1999. Using a Zebco 33 reel, the indefatigableOlgers cast 6,501 times in just over 24 hours.

Oldest FishingRecord In May 1865, Dr. C.C. Abbot caught a 4-pound 3-ounce world-record yellow perchnear Bordentwon, N.J. His freshwater record has stood for more than 140 years,longer than any other.

FastestGunslinger At South Dakota’s Lead Club Range on August 20, 1932, Ed McGivern of Montanafired a .45-caliber revolver five times from 15 feet into an area with adiameter of 1,1875 inches. He accomplished this in 0.45 seconds (including thetime needed to draw the gun from his holster), and did it twice that day.

The Record forMarathon Shooting Ohio rifleman Tom Frye was arguably the greatest shot with a .22 who everlived. He established a marathon and accuracy world record by hitting nearlyevery one of 100,000 hand-tossed wooden blocks, missing only six. To accomplishthis phenomenal feat, Frye banged away for nine hours a day over a 13-dayperiod.

Largest ShootingEvent The world’s largest annual shooting tournament is the Grand American WorldTrapshotting Championships, conducted each August by the Amateur TrapshootingAssociation. At this competition, 100 trap fields set side by side stretch for1.75 miles. Several thousand competitors (aged 8 to 80) shoot as many as 5million clay targets during the 10-day event.

Toughest GameLaws Today’s game law violators get off easy compared to poachers of yesteryear.Under the French King Clovis, who died in A.D. 511, the slightest trespass intothe royal hunting preserve occasioned public whipping. Poaching drew thestiffer penalty of torture on the rack burning and finally death bydecapitation.

Largest SharkEver Paleontologists excavating fossilized fish in England have plenty of bones toback their claim that they found the whopper of all whoppers when it comes tofish. What they discovered was a specimen of Leedsichthys problematicus, aJurassic Age version of the basking shark. At 72 feet long, it was almost twiceas long as a whale shark, which is the largest fish swimming the seastoday.

Rarest GameBird North America’s most difficult wing-shooting challenge, not to mention mostexpensive game meat, has to be the introduced Himalayan snowcock. These birdsare hunted only at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet and only in Nevada’s ElkoCounty. Only 100 to 150 hunters pursue the snowcocks each year, harvesting atotal of 20 to 30 birds.

Biggest Fish EverHooked and Landed What may be the biggest fish ever hooked and landed was captured in Floridawaters by Captain Jay Gould in 1993. It was a manta ray that measured 19 feet 9inches from wing tip to wing tip. The huge ray was hooked on a large shark hooktied to 1,200 feet of half-inch rope, and when it had been subdued and towedback to Ft. Lauderdale, the city’s 20-ton crane had to be used to lift it fromthe water. The ray weighed an estimated 5,500 pounds.

Littlest Lunker The smallest fish ever to make the record books may be the 2½-ounce pygmywhitefish hauled in from Montana’s Ashley Lake in 1982. The catch, by OrlinIverson, stood until 1999, when Frank Gamma caught a 2¾-ounce pygmy whitefishfrom the same lake. The record now stands at almost 3½ ounces.

Fastest Fish Anglers at Florida’s Long Key Fishing Camp came up with a simple and ingeniousmethod for measuring a fish’s swimming speed. When a hooked fish makes a run,measure the amount of line the fish took off the spool in a certain number ofseconds to calculate the speed. The fastest fish they clocked was a sailfishthat took out 300 feet of line in three seconds, at a velocity of 68 mph. Thespeed-burning sailfish went from zero to 60 in 2.6 seconds!

Longest Canoe You could carry lots of your friends fishing if you had access to the world’slargest canoe, the Nga Toki Matawhaorua, built in New Zealand in 1940. Thisunusual craft–117 feet long and 6 feet 7 inches wide–was able to accommodate135 people.

Biggest Bunch ofMigrating Squirrels In southeastern Wisconsin in 1842, people witnessed a mass migration of graysquirrels that lasted four weeks and involved, according to one observer,nearly half a billion squirrels. The migration covered an area roughly 130miles wide and 150 miles long. Wildlife biologists never determined whattriggered the migration. The bushytails, which appeared to be healthy,eventually scattered out at various locations in western Wisconsin, northernIllinois, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa.

Most Bountiful(Burrrp!) Squirrel Dinner In 1859, just for the heck of it, two parties of Arkansas hunters competed tosee which could bag the most squirrels. During the five-week competition, thehunters shot 19,765 squirrels. The difference between the two parties was1,134. Afterward, the folks in Pulaski County enjoyed the mother of allsquirrel barbecues.

Best PetCemetery When his favorite coon dog, Troop, died in 1937, Alabama hunter key Underwoodburied him under a homemade headstone. Before long, Underwood’s friends wantedto bury their coonhounds beside Troop. Underwood’s only stipulation was thatthey be respected coonhounds and properly interred with due circumstance. Todaymore than 100 coonhounds are buried in the hallowed ground of Key Underwood’sCoon Dog Memorial Park.

Biggest FishingLure Ron Mirabile of New Port Richey, Fla., has built what may be the world’slargest wooden fishing lure: an 8-foot-long, 200-pound torpedo called”Bassmonger,” which has two 9-inch hooks, 2-inch glass eyes and a coatof green paint with black spots.

Luckiest Double On May 29, 1992, Dorothy Taylor of Ft. Scott, Kan., caught a 53-pound flatheadcatfish. When the fish was cleaned, inside its stomach was found a 1.5-poundchannel cat with Taylor’s hook in its mouth. The flathead has swallowed thechannel cat tail first as it took Taylor’s bait.

Strangest ItemFound Inside a Catfish The Manitoba Morning Free Press in Winnipeg (May 18, 1894) tells of a 140-poundKansas catfish that apparently had aspirations to be a mail carrier. After itwas caught, the catfish was cleaned, and in its stomach was discovered a smallbottle, securely corked, containing this message: “Whoever will find thiswill please send it back to me. H.E. Pipes.” Mr. Pipes had thrown thebottle in the Kaw River three years earlier, 75 miles from where the fish wascaught by Douglass Smith.

Best White BassFishing Anywhere On April 23, 1984, two unrelated anglers from Indiana, William Wilson andWilliam Garvey, caught two Arkansas state-record white bass while fishing fromthe same boat on Bull Shoals Lake. Garvey’s fish weighed 5 pounds 2 ounces;Wilson’s fish (still the state record) weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces.

StrangestCoincidence Dr. Stan Chace of Alturas, Calif., seemingly defied all odds in the fall of1962. Chace bagged a banded Canada goose in October and shot another bandedCanada in December. When he compared the bands, Chace found them to beconsecutively numbered–the first 518-31661 and the second 518-31662. The birdswere banded three years earlier.

Longest Shot Witha Handheld Bow On August 2, 1987, Don Brown established a world record for distance byshooting an arrow with a 132-pounds handheld recurve bow 1,336 yards, 1 foot, 3inches.

Coolest Tattoo British Admiral Lord Charles Beresford loved fox hunting so much he is said tohave had a hunting scene tattooed across his buttocks, with the foxdisappearing into the cleft.

Stupidest Reasonto Buy a Hunting License At one time, the laws of California required a person to purchase a huntinglicense before setting a mousetrap.

Top GrouseHunter In 19th-century England, hunters in large shooting parties often competed tosee who could bag the most grouse or pheasants. Their gunning practices wereexcessive by today’s standards, but some shooting records are remarkable featsof endurance. Consider the single-day record of Thomas de Grey, the sixth LordWalsingham (1843–1919), who killed 1,070 grouse at Yorkshire’s BlubberhouseMoor on August 30, 1888. To achieve this feat, he fired 1,510 cartridges during20 drives and twice killed three birds in the air with just one shot.

Most Varied Bag In January 1889, Lord Walsingham shot what might be the most varied bag everrecorded: 65 coots, 39 pheasants, 23 mallards, 16 rabbits, 9 hares, 7 teal, 6partridges, 6 gadwalls, 4 pochard ducks, 3 swans, 3 snipe, 2 moorhens, 2herons, 1 otter, 1 woodcock, 1 wood pigeon, 1 goldeneye, 1 rat and a pike shotas it, swam through shallow water.

Wildest HuntingHat Lord Walsingham also was fond of wearing extraordinary hunting headgear–a hatmade from the skin of a hedgehog, complete with erect spikes.

ShootinestGent’man Perhaps only one man ever surpassed Walsingham in bird-hunting skill, and thatwas Frederick Oliver Robinson (1867–1923), later the second marquess of Ripon,who bagged 556,000 game birds during his lifetime. On the morning of September22, 1923, Robinson died as he lived. He shot 52 birds, then himself fell deadof a heart attack on grouse moor.

Best Excuse forMissing the Oscars The 1940 Academy Award nominees for Best Director were George Cukor, AlfredHitchcock, Sam Wood, William Wyler and John Ford. Ford, who won the Oscar forThe Grapes of Wrath, did not attend the award ceremony. He was away on afishing trip.

Best SnipeHunter During 20 years of hunting in Louisiana, J. J. Pringle killed 78,602 snipe,including a one-day bag of 366 on December 11, 1877.

StupidestWarning Seen on a spinnerbait package; “Warning: Harmful If Swallowed.”

Oldest Weapons Three wooden spears excavated from a German coal mine are the world’soldest-known complete hunting weapons. Ranging from 6 to 7 feet long, thewooden-shafted spears were fashioned with admirable skill by apparentlydedicated meat-eaters approximately 400,000 years ago.

Deadliest Shot On October 26, 1826, at Whittlesea Mere in Cambridgeshire, England, a ColonelHawker, firing one shot from a massive double-barreled punt gun loaded withnearly 2 pounds of fine shot, downed 504 starlings.

BiggestBullhead The world’s largest bullhead catfish is 17 feet 8 inches long and weighs 1,650pounds. This statue stands at the end of Main Street in Crystal Lake, Iowa, inrecognition of the community’s fondness for the bullhead, also Iowa’s mostpopular panfish.

HeaviestStriper The all-tackle world-record striped bass weighed 78 pounds 8 ounces, but muchlarger specimens have been recorded. The biggest striper ever weighed was a112-pound striper taken in a seine in 1889 off Cape Cod at Orleans, Mass.

Most HonestAngler A few years after his presidency ended, while fishing in McKean County, Penn.,Ulysses S. Grant discovered to his dismay that he was fishing out of season. Heimmediately turned himself in to the nearest justice of the peace, who wasreluctant to apply the law to such an august offender. Grant wasn’t one to copa plea, however, and insisted on paying the full fine for histransgression.


Largest Big-Game Animal On November 13, 1955, in Angola, J.J. Fenykovi of Hungary shot the largest landanimal ever taken by a big-game hunter: a 12-ton bull African elephant. Thekill required 16 bullets from a .416 Rigby. The elephant’s tusks were 7 feetlong and weighed about 200 pounds each. The bull’s height was 13 feet 2 inches.Twenty-three bearers could not lift the hide, which weighed more than two thetons. The elephant was mounted for display in the rotunda of the U.S. NationalMuseum of Natural History, where it remains today.


Biggest Record Fish On April 21, 1959, Alfred Dean caught a 2,664-pound great white shark off thecoast of southern Australia. Amazingly, he subdued this monster–the heaviestrecord fish ever listed by the International Game Fish Association–in only 50minutes on 130-pound-test line. Dean also caught great whites weighing 2,333and 2,56 pounds.


Fattest Raccoon of All It’s probably safe to say that Bandit the pet raccoon didn’t climb to the topsof many trees, especially when his weight mushroomed to 75 pounds. Shown herein 1991 with owner Deborah Klitsch of Palmerton, Penn., Bandit weighed morethan three times the average weight for a male coon. He passed away in May2004, fat and sassy.


Highest Price for a Live Deer In August 2004, Texas deer breeders Don Wilson and Gene Gonzalez paid $450,000for Dream Buck, the largest whitetail buck in Texas and one of the biggestnon-typicals anywhere. As a 4-year-old, Dream Buck scored 301 3/8. The men sellthe deer’s semen to other breeders of trophy-size whitetails.


Biggest Fly Rod & Reel In 1999, Texan Tiney Mitchell finished the world’s largest flyfishing rod andreel. The rod is 71 feet 4.5 inches long. The reel measures 4 feet in diameterand 10 inches wide.


Biggest Dog Ears of All Time Basset hounds are famous for their long ears, but a German dog named Jack hastaken it to extremes. The hound’s ears measure more than a foot long; in fact,Jack has trouble keeping his front paws from treading on his ears as he waddlesalong. Otherwise, Jack is normal: low to the ground and wearing a perpetuallyweary look on his face.


First TV Hunting Show On December 23, 1956, viewers of NBC’s Wide Wide World saw 300,000 mallardssitting on Arkansas’s Claypool Reservoir. Suddenly, a rocket was fired over theducks to flush them. Reservior owner Wallace Claypool then called in ducks for12-year-old hunter Lynn Parsons. Host Dave Garroway (also the first host ofNBC’s Today show, 1952–1961) observed, “Now if you’ll brush the duckfeathers off your sofa, we’ll go on with the rest of the program.


The Winningest Caller Pat Peacock is the only person to have won all five major titles at theStuttgart, Ark., World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest. The list includes aJunior World title in 1950 (at age 12), the first of five straight Women’sWorld titles in 1951, the Arkansas Calling Championship and the first of twoconsecutive World’s Championships in 1955 and the Champion of Champions crownin 1960.


Costliest Fishing Lure Tracey Shirey of South Carolina paid $101,200 for an 1859 copper fishing lurecalled a Haskell Minnow, a record price for a fishing collectible at auction.Ohio gunsmith Riley Haskell made the 10-inch lure in the 1850s. Shirey hassince traded the lure to another collector.