Antlers Built For Controversy
Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog and the story of the Harold Smith buck.
British Columbia has long been considered a hunters paradise. And rightfully so as every big game animal in North America can be found within the borders of the Province. The area just north of the Washington and Idaho borders is also known as a sleeper area for trophy quality whitetails. It’s this area where the Harold Smith buck was taken in the 1950’s.
No witnesses can be found that may have seen the buck, and no photos have ever been produced of the deer either. Both could have been deciding factors in what has become one of the whitetail worlds greatest debates.
The Harold Smith Buck and its Controversy
The Harold Smith buck has become a significant piece of hunting history, whether you believe it to be a Mule deer or a Whitetail is where the controversy lies. Many antler experts and collectors, the very people that actually study such things, have long believed it to be a Mule deer. For many years the Boone & Crockett club, North America’s most recognized big game record keeping organization, would not allow the buck to be entered in either the Mule deer or Whitetail categories. The club’s reason being there was no proof of the deer being of either species.
The buck is seen here mounted with a whitetail cape, which shouldn’t be used to determine what type of deer it is.
The Significance of Getting it Right
What makes the controversy so significant is this fact, at 279 3/8 inches of antler the Harold Smith buck will become a Provincial record in either of the two categories it may enter. Also of significance is the fact that it would also become Canada’s number two non typical whitetail, falling just 3/8 of an inch short of Neil Morin’s great non typical, which is Canada’s top whitetail.
The great deer has qualities of both species. The wide sweep and deer forks of a Mule deer and the upturned beams, brows points, and boxy frame of a Whitetail. These features are what jump out to the discerning eye. However, there’s another characteristic that could seal the deal, but most will never have a chance to see it.
Could it be a Hybrid?
The antler characteristic of beading is usually quite different between Mule deer and Whitetails. Most often a Whitetail will have beading that runs up the points, or in lines. Mule deer usually bead in a circular pattern. Most people will not see this on the Harold Smith buck because they will never be close enough to the antlers to see the beading pattern. However, I found this short video produced by North American Whitetail television and it shows a close up of the beading. Click here then scroll down the page to the Harold Smith video.
As you can see in the video the beading shows no distinct pattern of either Mule deer or Whitetail. It’s this lack of dominate feature that leads many to consider the buck to be a hybrid cross between a Mule deer and Whitetail.
This is significant because hybrids cannot be entered into record books because records are distinctively species specific.
After decades of debate and controversy, the B&C club has decided to accept the buck as a whitetail and has panel scored the buck at 279 3/8 inches. The antlers will now be recognized as being from a whitetail.
I’d like to hear your opinion on whether you think this is a Mule deer, a Whitetail, or an ineligible hybrid? Please post your comments and opinions at the bottom of this page in the comments section.
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