The Stories Behind the Prettiest (Typical) Mule Deer of All Time

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Handsome, pretty, dashing—whichever word you choose—these muleys look downright gentlemanly with their nearly perfect symmetrical racks. “Nets are for fish,” you say. Well, okay, we’ll get you the stories behind the biggest mule deer ever (non-typicals) soon. Until then, we hope you like what you see—and read.

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Number 1 – Burris Buck

Score: 226-4/8 Location: Dolores County, Colorado Date: 1972

Doug Burris and his buddies from San Antonio called their annual Colorado hunting trip the “poor boy trip” because they always shared their hunting gear and knowledge with each other. In 1972 on a trip to the San Juan National Forest, Burris was rattling in mulies (yes, you can rattle them in), and he passed up a half-dozen decent bucks in rainy and miserable weather. By day four, Doug had set his sights on a buck one of his hunting partners had told him about.

Burris was dropped off in one particular canyon where he killed a buck with a massive spread the prior year. He spotted a couple bucks on the opposing hillside when a third buck materialized. He knew that was the buck he wanted. He dropped down the canyon and worked his way through thick oak brush. On his way to meet the bucks, he nearly stepped on a doe that exploded from her bed. This spooked the bucks. Two went left, his buck went right. With one shot from his .264, the big boy was down.

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When he got home, he took the head and cape to his taxidermist, Ed Schlier, and Boone and Crockett Club Official Measurer. A green score put the antlers in the top ten. In an article in the December 1975 Outdoor Life, Doug recalled what happened next. “Several months later my phone rang at 1 a.m. ‘Doug,’ Ed blurted out, ‘I think your buck may be the best typical ever taken.’’’ Well, it certainly was, and it has been ever since. The closest contender is eight points lighter.

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Number 2 – Svenson Buck

Score: 218 4/8 Location: South Saskatchewan River, Saskatchewan Date: 1950

From the Boone and Crockett files, there is a hand-written letter from an Official Measurer (OM) addressed to the director of big game records at the time Jack Reneau. The OM had measured this buck back in the 1970s, but the owner didn’t care much for records. Some three decades later the same OM bumped into Larry Svenson, owner of the buck whose grandfather, Lars Svenson, had killed it. With a little convincing by the OM, Larry agreed to submit the buck for scoring. That’s when it shot up to the number two spot. As for the hunt itself, we know that Lars drove his truck to the river hills of the South Saskatchewan River, which makes up a massive chunk of the province. He shot that buck with a .32 caliber rifle in 1948, according to the records on file.

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Number 3 – Wyoming Mystery

Score: 217 Location: Hoback Canyon, Wyoming Date: 1925

This buck prowled the Hoback Canyon area south of Jackson, Wyoming. In 1925, a hungry hunter killed the buck for meat and left the head behind. A ranch hand found those antlers and brought them into Jackson where they hung in Mike Meek’s Saloon. The saloon closed, and the antlers appeared at a place called the Handicraft Shop where a taxidermist bought them and sent them to Boone and Crockett for scoring. It was crowned the number one typical mule deer until the Burris buck came alone. Now the rack sits on display at the Jackson Hole Museum.

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Number 4 – Arizona Pick Up

Score: 216 2/8 Location: Coconino County, Arizona Date: 1994

Hard to believe that this is Arizona’s only typical mule deer in the top ten, but check it out yourself at Big Game Records LIVE. In the fall of 1996, Steve Stayner was cruising the rimrock looking for deer in Coconino County. What looked like a white rag in some sagebrush caught his eye. Once he made his way down, he didn’t find a rag, but the bleached bones of this massive buck. Miraculously, no tine had been nibbled by a porcupine or mouse. Evidence around the deer suggested a lion had taken it down. Stayner went back to Phoenix and showed his dad, who just happened to be a B&C Official Measurer. After measuring it, the buck has an outside spread over 31 inches and a left G-2 that measures 22-4/8 inches. It currently resides in the National Collection of Heads and Horns, which is part of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

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Number 5 (tie) – Talbot Buck

Score: 215 5/8 Location: Franklin County, Idaho Date: 1961

Ray Talbot was the sheriff of Franklin County, Idaho, when he went hunting in the fall of 1961. By all accounts, Talbot was just looking to fill the freezer. He was riding his horse through the Idaho sage when this buck jumped from cover. He dismounted and took one shot with his pre-’64 Model 70 Winchester .243. Talbot and his brother tied a rope to the antlers and used the horses to drag it through the snow back to town. He tossed the head in some hay in a barn and forgot about it. Glen Page, Talbot’s hunting buddy, a conservation officer, and Boone and Crockett Official Measurer, had heard about the deer and asked to see it. Right away, Page knew it was something special—and it was. Taken in a state known for bruiser mule deer bucks, it still remains the best typical ever to come out of Idaho.

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Hunters—that’s you—can use the Boone and Crockett records to help spot trophy trends as you plan your next hunt. For fun, let’s look at typical mule deer. Using the County Search tool, you can narrow your search by trophy category, state, county, and date of kill range. As you can see, Colorado is still king.

State/County Search

If you want a little more fun, use the Method Visualizer tool to see what hunters are using to take these trophies.

Method Visualizer

Most popular method of take for B&C typical mule deer entries

  1. 7mm Remington Magnum, by far
  2. .270 Winchester
  3. .300 Winchester Magnum

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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 >>