A Kansas bowhunter came away with an unbelievable trophy buck last October in Chase County, and the photo is truly worth a thousand words.
Or maybe just one: Wow.
Brian Butcher, 38, of Andover, encountered a buck that might look more at home in an "X-Men" comic or a sci-fi movie than in the backwoods of Kansas. The buck had a large jumble of tines in the middle of its rack, which unofficially measured Jan. 3 at a net non-typical score of 321 3/8 inches. The deer was measured by former Topeka Capital-Journal outdoors writer Marc Murrell and Ken Witt, of Burleson, Texas — both Boone and Crockett measurers — and had a total of 67 scorable points.
The reason for the delay in getting a measurement is that B&C scoring rules stipulate the rack couldn't be measured until it had dried for at least 60 days.
The measurement, if it holds up to official inspection in 2022, will be good for the fourth-largest mass for a nontypical whitetail deer ever recorded. And no, not just in Kansas — in the world.
“When I first saw it, I thought it had some branches or grass tangled up in its antlers,” Butcher said in an interview with the Pratt Tribune, a Gannett paper in Kansas. “But when I looked at him with binoculars, I realized it was all antlers.”
The deer was unlike anything he had ever seen before, but according to state game warden Kevin Wood, who is based in St. John, strange antler shapes and growth aren't uncommon in Kansas.
"There are a variety of reasons why a deer would grow a strange rack like that one," said Wood, a certified Boone and Crockett measurer. "Genetics are usually the biggest likelihood. Injury or illness plays a big part. Sometimes environment or nutritional health can be factors."
Wood said he would guess the large rack harvested by Butcher could have actually been caused by a combination of the main rack-mutation factors, but that it would be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause.
"Here in Kansas we have a lot of bucks running around with dropped tines, or some we even call cactus bucks," Wood said. "These bucks are genetically susceptible to abnormal horn growth."
The score sheet and entry materials on Butcher’s buck have been mailed to the Boone and Crockett Club headquarters for verification and acceptance. Because of its high ranking, the rack will be scored again by a panel of measurers at the Boone and Crockett Club’s next awards ceremony in 2022. Boone and Crockett’s top two non-typical whitetails were found dead in Missouri and Ohio and scored 333 7/8 inches and 328 2/8 inches, respectively.
The current Kansas state record archery non-typical whitetail was shot by Dale Larson in 1998 in Pottawatomie County and scored 264 1/8 inches, with Butcher's deer eclipsing it by 57 2/8 inches if it holds up. For firearms, the current Kansas state record non-typical whitetail was taken in 1987 by Joseph Waters in Shawnee County and scored 280 4/8 inches.
Jennifer Stultz, of the Pratt Tribune, contributed to this report. To read her complete feature on the monster buck, go to https://tinyurl.com/rlfuf9p/.