In New York, making a point – and losing one – on new state record buck
The hunting world is still buzzing over the new state non-typical archery buck tagged by Phillip Pless of Newfane (see Feb. 15 issue of New York Outdoor New). If you are a big game hunter and you missed the announcement of this spectacular trophy, the Pless buck is an amazing mass of bone that was recently certified as the top set of antlers in New York. The final score was a gross measurement of 221-3/8 and a net score of 214-2/8 inches. Whoa!
It was not just measured by one official scorer. There was a panel of three judges that worked together to come up with a final number that they all agreed upon. I was there and I witnessed the difficulty of the task at hand. Don Haseley, of Sanborn, Dave Muir, of North Tonawanda, and Jeff Wetzel, of Lockport, were the trio involved in this history-making Niagara County beast. Haseley even admitted it was the most difficult set of antlers that he has ever had to score.
Somewhere along the way, the 19-point buck became an 18-point animal after the final measurements were taken and documented.
“He has 19 points but only 18 are scorable,” Pless said after we discussed it a short time later. A point must be at least an inch long and it was too close to call for the official designation. Was Pless disappointed that he lost a point?
“No, I’m not disappointed at all. I still feel excited, blessed and extremely thankful.”
It has been a couple of weeks since the official designation now. Pless is scheduled to pick up the mount from Trophy Room Taxidermy, in Niagara Falls ,on Feb. 10. Has it started to sink in yet for Pless?
“Yes, it’s starting to sink in a little more now,” he said. “I’ve been getting much more attention over it. It seems like I am getting phone call after phone call. It will be even more surreal once it is completed at the taxidermist and I have it in my living room. My kids are super excited to see it and have it home!”
North American Whitetail did an online story. Fox News did a piece on the monster buck with the unusual headgear. Hoyt Archery is doing its homework because they contacted Pless when they found out he was using a Hoyt Maxxis 31 bow. New York Outdoor News ran a couple stories and social media exposure has been off the charts. It is the deer of a lifetime.
If the late Charlie Alsheimer, of Bath, were still with us, he would not be surprised that a record buck came out of Niagara County. He would often say to me that Niagara offered the perfect combination of genetics and nutrients in the soil, along with a rich agricultural base. Too bad he is no longer around to see his prediction of a record come true.
Then again, it is not the first record for Niagara. The current New York State record non-typical muzzleloader buck was taken by Keith LeVick in 2007. His behemoth was a 22-point that grossed 231-2/8 and netted 221-1/8.
Now that I think about it, both of those bucks were taken right around the corner from me in Lockport. The Pless buck was taken about 10 miles to the north, in the Town of Newfane, while the LeVick buck was less than 10 miles to the south, in the Town of Pendleton.
For Pless, being in the right place at the right time certainly played into his success. However, it was much more than that. He did his homework through trail cameras and he knew that big deer was around. He was looking for it.
To take his dedication and perseverance one step further, he practiced with his bow all summer long – especially longer distances out to 70 yards. He had confidence in the 50-yard shot that he ultimately took, and he was rewarded with a lifetime achievement. I love it when a plan comes together like that. Congratulations on a job well done.