World-Record Predictor

Will the next Hanson Buck stroll beneath your stand? Our man in the field gives his best guess on the … Continued

Big-game records are as unpredictable and as subject to whim as a teenaged girl, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating on the origins of the next celebrity head. Ask anybody who tracks horns and antlers to predict records, and you’ll get a mix of statistics and educated hunches. What you won’t get is consensus. The fact that experts can’t agree is ample proof of the difficulty of predicting the future based on the past. Which means the next world-record buck may be yours. Bighorn Sheep MONTANA GIANTS The undisputed king of big-ram units is Montana’s District 680, in the Missouri River Breaks south of Havre. JUSTIFICATION Last year, a pair of 202-plus rams were taken here, where average mature rams sport 17-inch bases. CONSIDER New Mexico’s Wheeler Peak unit.
Mule Deer ARIZONA STRIP Units 13A and 13B are both legendary for their high, wide and heavy bucks. But Mexico and Saskatchewan are in a dead heat for recent record production. CONSIDER The record Burris Buck, a 226 4⁄8-inch typical, won’t be topped soon. The nearest contender in the last 35 years was 11 inches shy.
Elk MONROE MOUNTAIN This ultra-premium unit in central Utah produced last year’s record “Spider Bull.” The average age of harvested bulls is more than 7 years old. JUSTIFICATION Drum-tight management, great habitat and strong genes will produce another 500-class bull. CONSIDER Arizona’s Unit 23 South.
Whitetail SASKATCHEWAN Yes, Wisconsin and Kansas grow ’em big, but genetics combined with distributed pressure will topple Milo Hanson’s 213 5⁄8-incher. JUSTIFICATION Too many people are looking too hard in all the usual places. The next record will surprise everyone, just like the last. CONSIDER Iowa.
Moose NORTHERN UTAH Rich, Weber or Morgan counties will produce a 210-inch Shiras bull. JUSTIFICATION Wolves haven’t yet arrived here to decimate the moose population. CONSIDER Montana’s eastern plains. This isn’t considered moose country, but big bulls yearly drift down from Canada.
Antelope WEST TEXAS Arizona and New Mexico are close, but any Hudspeth County ranch could produce a 95-inch pronghorn. JUSTIFICATION Good genes and low hunting pressure on huge private ranches. CONSIDER Southeastern Colorado.
Black Bear PENNSYLVANIA Any county statewide could give up a 24-inch boar. JUSTIFICATION A long growing season, quality forage in vast timber stands and low hunter success during a short season. CONSIDER Utah in the West. And if New Jersey ever opens a season, the world record will fall within the first week.

Will the next Hanson Buck stroll beneath your stand? Our man in the field gives his best guess on the ZIP codes of the next records.