The Stories Behind the World’s Biggest Mule Deer

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With racks akin to century-old twisted trees at timberline, these bucks are true monsters. They are hardly the stuff of nightmares, though. Visions of seeing these deer afield give us the energy to hike over just one more ridge. Be careful, though. A buck with headgear like this can come with baggage. After reading about the world’s record, you’ll understand what we mean.

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Number 1—Broder Buck

Score: 355-2/8 Location: Chip Lake, Alberta Date: 1926

Antlers this big can be more trouble than they’re worth. So it goes with the Broder Buck. It all started in the fall of 1926 when Edmund Broder and two hunting buddies went hunting west of Edmonton, Alberta. They were driving a 1914 Model T and a 1924 McLaughlin touring car. Once the road dissolved, they hired a horse and sleigh to get them south of Chip Lake.

Ed left camp around 1 p.m. and followed some deer tracks. Then he cut moose tracks, but decided to stay the course on his deer. He came to a clearing where he saw two deer. He trained his .32 Winchester Special on the larger buck’s spine and dropped him. “What a rack that one’s got,” he wrote in a letter recounting the hunt. But that’s where the fun ends.

When Ed died in 1968, he left no will. With numerous children to his name, the buck did not have a legal owner. The antlers stayed on the wall of the family home until 1973 when Don Broder, one of Ed’s sons, took it to a sportsman’s show and then mounted it in his own home. In 1997, the siblings filed suit, wanting the head returned, but it had vanished. Don refused to reveal its whereabouts and spent six days in jail for contempt. Appearing back in court, Don admitted to selling it to antler collector Don Schaufler for six figures.

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In the end, the earnings were split between all siblings. Don’s portion went to pay his contempt of court fine.

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Number 2—Unknown Oldie

Score: 339-2/8 Location: Okanagan, British Columbia Date: pre-1892

This is one well-traveled buck, and it’s reported to have been given as a gift to Sir Edgar Dewdney, lieutenant governor of British Columbia from 1892-1897. Legend has it that this buck was taken with a bow by a Native American hunter in the Okanagan Valley. Then again, that was more than a century ago.

Dewdney was so impressed with the rack that he shipped it to Vienna, Austria, to be displayed at the International Hunting Exhibition in 1910. Despite being screwed to a wooden shield and held together by the original hide, the rack made it back to the States in one piece. In 1993, the family sold the rack. In 1995, it came in front of a Boone and Crockett Club judges panel for scoring, but there was a problem. The skull was cracked, which could have disqualified it. But the panel took x-rays and determined the rack was in good enough shape to qualify. With 24 points on the right side and 23 on the left, this mystery buck was eventually crowned the second biggest mule deer in the records.

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Number 3—Hunsaker Buck

Score: 330-1/8 Location: Box Elder County, Utah Date: 1943

A pool hall, a laundromat and a hardware store—all perfectly good places to display a deer head. In fact, Alton Hunsaker’s non-typical mule deer frequented all three.

When it was alive, this behemoth buck prowled Baldhead Canyon, north of Honeyville, Utah. It was here in 1943 that Alton Hunsaker was hunting with three friends on horseback. Everyone split up, and Alton set up on a bluff to sit. At noon he saw three bucks moving his way. Alton picked his buck and dropped him with his .32 Winchester Special. What lay at Alton’s feet was something akin to Medusa. The rack was so full of junk that half of it was still in velvet—it couldn’t possibly rub it all off. It was and still is the greatest mule deer taken in Utah.

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Number 4—Fauria Buck

Score: 325-6/8 Location: Nye County, Nevada Date: 1955

Really big mule deer antlers seem to take on a life of their own after they die. After Clifton Fauria died in 1956, these antlers hung in his garage for a while, then an uncle displayed them in his California restaurant for six years. After the restaurant closed, the antlers went back to the garage until they were put in an Oregon storage unit for eight years. Then the head and the .270 Winchester Clifton used on the hunt were given to Clifton’s son. In 1991, he moved the head to a business owned by a connoisseur of racks. At that point, someone contacted a Boone and Crockett Club Official Measurer who taped it out and declared it the largest Nevada mule deer ever.

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Number 5—Murphy Buck

Score: 324-1/8 Location: North Kaibab, Arizona Date: 1943

Arizona’s Kaibab Plateau is 1,100 square miles of the arid Southwest between the Grand Canyon and the Utah border. Mule deer populations there are, shall we say, complicated thanks to various management techniques applied over the past 100 years. If you’re curious, the saga is explained in detail in A Mule Deer Retrospective. Numerous record-book mule deer have come out of the area, and this is the largest. William L. Murphy killed this Kaibab buck on November 14, 1943. For three decades it sat undiscovered until Murphy’s son-in-law William L. Karam entered it into the Boone and Crockett Records. With 33 scorable points and 115-2/8 inches of non-typical points, this buck’s most amazing characteristic might just be its greatest spread at 43-4/8 inches.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>