412-Pound Deer Killed
Part 3: Analysis
Circulating via email since December 2005, these images generated a good deal of skepticism among hunters, game wardens, and even sports columnists when they first appeared online. It was originally claimed that the deer was killed somewhere in Nebraska. Later variants specified Clarion County, Pennsylvania as the actual hunting ground.
But it wasn't the locale that proved to be the biggest bone of contention -- it was the alleged weight of the buck -- 412 pounds -- a figure characterized by a deer biologist quoted in the Toledo Blade
as "biologically possible" but unlikely.
Claim staked on huge deer that caused Internet stir
Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune
I wrote about a big deer supposedly shot in Nebraska by an archer. News of the deer's kill and purported photos of the animal had circulated widely on the Internet for some weeks.
I attempted to verify whether such a deer (supposedly weighing 412 pounds) had in fact been killed. A telephone interview I conducted with the head of the Nebraska Game and Parks Division big game program revealed the agency had heard about, but had been unable to verify, the harvesting of such an animal in that state.
"An Arkansas resident by the name of Stan Whitt has contacted me to say he was the archer who killed the deer. Nebraska wildlife officials don't know about the animal, he said, because he killed it on a Nebraska Indian reservation.
For reasons that have to do with the reservation possibly being overrun with hunters seeking permits to hunt there, Whitt declined to name the reservation.
Whitt says he was hunting on the reservation last November with three friends from Arkansas. He says he and his friends hunt with bows only and that he has hunted deer and other big game in about 20 states.
He shot the deer on a Saturday morning as it moved from water to a bedding area, Whitt said.
"I killed him at five paces," he said, from a portable stand about 25 feet high in a tree.
Whitt said he had to hold his bowstring (he shoots a Mathews bow) back 10 minutes while the deer approached. He said he shot the deer virtually straight down, the shot striking behind the left shoulder and 3 inches from the spine. His arrow carried a 100-grain Simmons broadhead.
The animal disappeared in the far distance, Whitt said, losing the arrow as he ran.
Four hours later, Whitt began his search for the deer. He said he looked alone until dark without finding the animal.
The next morning one of his friends joined the search, as well as a reservation game warden and another man. Whitt said his friend found the deer in a draw or ravine about noon that day, a Sunday. The deer was "somewhat bloated" and stunk, Whitt said. He said he field-dressed the deer and he and the three others dragged it about 60 yards to his truck.
The deer was taken to the reservation wildlife office, where a tooth from it was removed. Using a tape designed to estimate a deer's weight, Whitt said, the animal was measured behind its front legs, around its girth. From that measurement Whitt and the others, including the tribal wildlife officer, estimated its live weight at 412 pounds.
Typically, dressed weights are about 20 percent less than live weights, meaning Whitt's deer would have field-dressed at about 325 pounds.
Asked why he didn't get the deer weighed, Whitt indicated it was unnecessary, given the supposed relative accuracy of the tape.
"It's supposed to have a margin of error of only 6 percent," he said.
The animal's 10-point rack scored 139 points, Pope & Young, Whitt said.
Whitt said he has been distressed about Internet and chat room rumblings that the deer is a fake and that photos of the animal circulating on the Internet are fakes. He said the tribal wardens could verify such a deer was shot by him. But attempts to reach the officials this week were unsuccessful -- a receptionist who offered that "a big deer was shot here last fall" suggested another attempt be made next week.
State or national records aren't kept of deer weights, only antler sizes. But Minnesota apparently can claim the two largest whitetail deer by weight believed killed in North America. Both field-dressed at a little more than 400 pounds, giving them an estimated live weight of about 500 pounds.
One was felled in 1925 near Isabella, the other in the early 1980s on the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation west of Duluth.
Whitt said he hopes to secure sponsors from his big kill. Bass Pro, he said, is doing a full-body mount of the animal. Whitt said he was "wearing 100 percent ScentLok clothing and using a Lone Wolf stand and Lone Wolf tree steps."
"Please mention these products," he said."