Poached Ontario 18-point buck may score near 200

Correspondent

Dryden, Ontario In any other situation, a gigantic buck that was
shot north of Dryden, Ontario, this past fall would be gracing
hunting magazine covers for years to come.

The deer was a true monster, a world-class 18-point monarch, and
pictures of the beast have been making the e-mail rounds for
weeks.

However, the people responsible for killing the largest deer
ever shot in Ontario two Americans broke the law to do it. Because
this case is still under investigation, many details of what
happened to this deer can’t be shared at this time. However,
there’s a basic sketch of what happened.

On the evening of Nov. 10, Dryden conservation officer Mike
Humberstone received information that a deer had been shot one hour
after legal time. As a result of that tip, the officer drove to a
location just north of Dryden. The area north of Dryden is a mix of
farms and public “crown” land, and it’s a popular deer hunting area
for local residents and visiting American hunters alike. It was in
this area that Humberstone located what he discovered was a trophy
deer that had been shot.

“The people who had shot it had not recovered it, and it was on
private property,” Humberstone said recently. “The investigation
has led me to two nonresident U.S. hunters.” The men fled the
country shortly after the incident. At press time, charges were
pending, but had not yet been laid.

Humberstone said he knew it was an unusually large deer when he
found it; certainly the largest deer he’d ever seen in his career.
But it wasn’t until some other hunters saw the enormous buck that
the “world-class” buzz started.

“It’s a deer that came out of nowhere,” Humberstone said. “No
one who hunts the area had ever seen it.”

So just how big is the deer? A scorer for the Foundation for the
Recognition of Wildlife scored the buck shortly after it was
confiscated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. What follows are
some of the highlights of the unofficial green score. It provides a
pretty good idea just how awesome this animal is.

The Dryden buck had a typical rack that grossed 223 and had a
net score of 199. Although the rack doesn’t have a huge inside
spread, it is incredibly massive. The smallest circumference at the
base is said to be 71/4 inches, and the largest measures about 10
inches. The tine length also is huge; all the tines are at least 10
or 11 inches long. As far as left to right deductions go, there are
an estimated 12 inches of abnormal points. In other words, it was 2
or 3 inches short of world-record territory. The rack and skull of
this animal is enormous and weighs in the vicinity of 15 pounds.
It’s also quite likely that the buck was past its prime as far as
antlers go.

“I’d love to find the sheds from last year,” the scorer
said.

While the fact this deer was illegally killed ruins any chance
of record recognition, that hasn’t stopped curiosity over it. Deer
hunters and hunting media from across North America have been
phoning the MNR office in Dryden for information. Much of the
interest in this deer has been generated from two different
pictures of the buck that started showing up in e-mail in-boxes
days after the animal was recovered.

One of the pictures shows Dryden CO Humberstone with the buck
and another smaller deer, that also was confiscated. A second
picture, and perhaps the one that best displays the quality of the
rack, shows another Dryden resident, Chris Woods (wearing a
Remembrance Day poppy) posing with the deer. Woods can barely get
his hand around the beams.

The rack is presently in the possession of the MNR and may end
up as part of display in the district office. People who know these
things said that this rack would be worth $20,000 to $30,000. So
what does the presence of this quality of deer in Ontario mean?
Well, some might say the secret is now officially out and that
northwestern Ontario will become the destination for trophy
whitetail hunters. Others believe that the deer was a freak a one
in a million anomaly that just happened to be in the wrong place at
the wrong time. There is probably some truth to both theories, but
there is definitely something happening with deer in northwestern
Ontario.

There have been some unusually big deer shot this fall in the
northwest, the vast majority of which have been taken legally. This
author’s in-box has been loaded with pictures of jaw-dropping 170-
to 180-class whitetails this year, most of which were killed in the
Fort Frances/Rainy River/Emo area. There also is word of a
nontypical buck that scored 213 being taken near Kenora. While
researching this story, this author was told of yet another deer
shot near Dryden. This one was rumored to have a 26-inch inside
spread and was said to have a score not far off of the Dryden
18-pointer.

Rumors and hearsay perhaps, but the evidence that northwestern
Ontario is world-class deer country is rapidly mounting. Up until
recently, the Ontario MNR has all but ignored its deer herd in the
northwest, and has barely managed white-tailed deer in favor of the
much larger moose. Yet mild winters, low snow depths, and intensive
forestry have created a situation that’s allowed whitetails to boom
in the region.

Gord Ellis is a freelance writer who lives in Thunder Bay,
Ontario.

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