Tag Archives: antlers

The Harold Smith Buck

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 Harold Smith buck
The Harold Smith buck from British Columbia scores 279 3/8 inches.

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.

If you enjoy reading the stories of giant bucks and how the hunters took them then SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG and you’ll receive all the articles into your email box as they are posted. The subscribe link is located within the right column on this page. Also, be sure to sign up for my free Buck-Tales Newsletter and receive big buck news not published within these articles, that link can be found within the left side column. I will not share your contact info for any reason and I promise there will never be any spam from this site. Also, if you’re a shed hunter then you need to read my eBook, “How to Find Whitetail Deer Sheds”, also found within the left side column. The reviews on the book are in and they are superb!

I hope you enjoyed the story of the Harold Smith buck? Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog!

Justin Smith Iowa Eight Point

The Winds of November

Welcome to the Whitetail Shooters blog and the story of the Justin Smith Iowa eight point.

Deer hunters have always considered the month of November as being special, and it’s not unusual to find those who consider the entire month as being sacred. Some hunters go as far as to warn family members they will not be attending any weddings, reunions, recitals, and sporting events, during that special time. This conflict of interest is easiest agreed upon by those who have spent a few hundred hours shivering off the cold while being perched in a tree stand. Most serious deer hunters will relate and agree the month of November cannot be tread upon.

However, if you live within one of the top record buck producing areas in North America, the month of November becomes even a bit more special than normal. Knowing, believing, and consistently seeing giant whitetails within your hunting area can spark a desire like none other. In these areas, a serious whitetail hunter just doesn’t miss any hunting time within the rut. This is a time when family, sports, weather, and all other important matters in life, can take a back seat to hunting.

November 14th 2010 was a very windy day in eastern Iowa with wind gusts clocking over 50mph. It was one of those days that most people won’t hunt. But in Iowa you can’t pass up a November day in the middle of the rut!

Justin Smith and his Dad are two people that take their deer hunting very serious, and for them there was no question as to whether they would hunt this windy day or not. The only decision made this day that was different from any other was the choice of Justin hunting from a ground blind rather than a swaying tree. His Dad would take a low hanging tree stand 300 yards north of Justin’s ground blind. The blind was set up behind a telephone pole along a fence line that allowed Justin to watch over a picked corn field.

Deer began filtering into the field within an hour of Justin reaching the blind. From over 500 yards away he could see what looked like two B&C sized bucks chasing does throughout the field. A common technique used on giant whitetails that are out of shooting range is commonly known as, “hope and pray”. Although it seldom works, it was the method that Justin found himself employing as he watched those two giant bucks run does across the field. But suddenly everything changed!

An Iowa Eight Point for Justin Smith

Justin’s keen eye’s picked up movement to his right. When he turned his head and looked in that direction a huge Iowa eight point buck materialized from behind the material of the blind. The buck was at 25 yards and was covering ground fast. Without thinking he grabbed his bow, drew, and released, seemingly all in one fluid motion.

The shot looked good but the deer acted like it wasn’t hit. Doubt started creeping into Justin’s mind as he played the shot over and over in his mind. He thought maybe the wind had derailed his aim and it could be possible the shot wasn’t as lethal as first thought. The deer had departed in the direction of his Dad’s stand so he sat and waited until dark before crawling out of the blind.

When Justin met up with his Dad after dark he asked him if he had seen the buck come his direction or not? The answer received was not what he had wanted to hear, and it only added more doubt into his already doubting mind. The decision was made to leave and return in the morning for a thorough search of the area.

A Hope and a Prayer

The next morning Justin returned to the ground blind from the previous night and actually sat and waiting as his Dad made use of the morning hunting hours. Shortly after daylight he heard a car hit a deer from half a mile away. Once again he “hoped and prayed” it wasn’t his deer that had been hit by the car. A little later when the two hunters walked out to the road to investigate the collision, they found a 160 inch buck had been killed. The deer had actually been coming down the fence line towards Justin’s dad’s tree stand when it was hit while crossing the road.

The two then went back to the ground blind to begin the search for evidence of a hit from the night before. While looking for Justin’s arrow they found a couple small drops of blood. It was enough to lend positive hope!

Iowa eight Point taken by Justin Smith
Justin Smith and his impressive 163 inch Iowa eight point whitetail.

With renewed encouragement Justin entered into a waist high strip of grass buffer that bordered the picked corn field. He hadn’t gone forty yards when he came upon the dead buck. The deer hadn’t gone 50 yards after being hit by the perfectly placed arrow. Justin had actually walked within 10 yards of the buck when he departed the area the night before!

Just Smith Iowa Eight Point
An impressive view of the Justin Smith Iowa eight point

Elite Company

There’s something about big 8 points that can make even seasoned whitetail veterans drool. A high scoring eight will leave little to be desired, and any eight-pointer that scores north of 160 inches is certainly within exclusive company. Justin’s great buck definitely reaches elite status, scoring an impressive 163 inches as a pure 4×4.

Justin Smith Iowa Eight Point
Almost perfect symmetry and a beautiful sweep to Justin’s Iowa eight point.

There are a couple of intriguing notes you may find of interest. The first being, this was the first time either Justin or his Dad had ever seen this deer. That’s unusual in its own when you consider their commitment to hunting and monitoring the local deer herd. Another interesting fact is this one of three bucks Justin has taken on November 14th that scored over 150 inches, being successful in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011.

This fact only lends support to the point; you don’t mess with a deer hunter’s November!

Have you signed up for the FREE “Buck-Tales” Newsletter? Click here and do so now! I promise no spam, no clickbait, and no sharing your info. Just news and notes from the world of big whitetails, and an occasional story like this one about the Justin Smith Iowa eight point!