Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Allegheny Co. buck likely is a record

Pittsburgh — Dragging a deer out of the woods is never easy, but this was different.
Jeff Lenzi knew he had something special.
Lenzi, who lives in Washington County, was hunting a favorite haunt in Allegheny County. Don’t ask exactly where; it’s posted against trespassing, and one of the farmer’s conditions for allowing Lenzi on is that he not share its location.
He’d been hunting there periodically this fall, and has passed on a number of bucks. On Oct. 10, though, he was in his stand when a monster-sized buck came out of the woods and entered the meadow he was watching. 
One look and Lenzi – who’s killed many deer and mounted many more, seeing his share of trophies along the way – started shaking.
“I was trying to hold my rangefinder up to my eye and I was like this,” he said, moving his hand up, down and around near his face.
He calmed himself down in time to blow his grunt tube, and stop the deer in its tracks, 62.3 yards away.
He fired a shot from the crossbow he’s been using for years, since shoulder surgery forced him to hang up his compound for good.
“I was out feeding the donkeys and I heard the thwap of the shot and looked and saw the buck fall,” said Louis Cowger, the farmer who owns the property Lenzi was hunting. “It went down on all fours before it got back up.”
He helped Lenzi trail the deer. When they found it, Lenzi knew it was big.
“It was just amazing. It is just amazing,” he said.
That it is. In fact, the deer is set to rewrite the state record book.
The state record typical whitetail taken with a bow – also killed in Allegheny County – fell in 2004 to Michael Nicola Sr. of Waterford. It scored 1782⁄8. 
The biggest typical taken with a firearm is the one that scored 188 when killed by Fritz Janowsky in Bradford County in 1943.
Lenzi’s deer may top them both.
He scored it himself, though he’s not an official scorer, then took it to four who are: three of them Boone and Crockett Club scorers, one of them a Safari Club International scorer.
The consensus among them all is that the rack green scored 194 7⁄8.
That won’t go in the record book. The rack must go through a 60-day drying period, then be scored again to come up with a final measure.
Bob D’Angelo, head of the big game records program for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, will take care of that in Harrisburg sometime early this month.
But he said he’s already seen photos of the deer, and expects that it will score in the very high 180s at a minimum, and possibly 190 or better.
“If that score holds, and it looks like it will, just from the photo, it’s probably got a good chance to be the new No. 1,” D’Angelo said.
Lenzi said he’s still in amazement over the deer. It weighed 302 pounds alive, he said, with a 27-inch round neck. It’s only got 10 main points, with three smaller ones he’s not even counting, with a 19-inch spread.
But the brow tines are nearly 10 inches tall, and all of the tines are thick and heavy, nearly 2 inches around even at the tips.
“It’s just an unusually heavy rack. The mass on it is just incredible,” Lenzi said.
“When you hold it, it feels like you’re holding a sack of potatoes. It’s that heavy,” Cowger agreed.
Nicknamed “Ghost” by Cowger for its ability to disappear – he said he only caught its picture on a trail camera once, and then only in the background, behind other deer – hadn’t been seen for three weeks before Lenzi arrowed it. He’s glad he saw it when he did.
“I’ve gotten some big deer before, some that scored in the 130s, which is a good deer for Pennsylvania. But this put the icing on the cake,” Lenzi said. “It’s just total shock even now.”
He plans to do a full body mount of the deer, even incorporating into the scene the arrow he used to take the deer. Cowger found that for him.
That’s one reason – besides the deer’s size – the drag was so difficult. Lenzi slid the deer onto an old sled to protect the hide, and basically eased the deer out of the woods with the least damage possible.
“It took four guys, and we could have used more,” Cowger said.
And in the meantime, Lenzi is leaving nothing to chance. This is the “buck of a lifetime,” he said, and he’s not going to lose it. He takes the rack to work with him in the mornings and back home with him every night.
“I’m not letting it leave my sight,” Lenzi said.

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