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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I hope you enjoyed the story of the Harold Smith buck? Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog!
Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog!
Mike Montgomery had never bow hunted in his life, but he decided that was going to change. While in Afghanistan serving a tour of duty in 2010, he purchased a fully equipped 2009 Bowtech Captain from a Military Overseas Discount Program. After his discharge from service, he hunted archery for the first time in his life and was able to harvest a doe.
During late September of 2013 Mike was asked by a neighbor to fill a vacancy and go on an Ohio archery hunt. This would be a guided hunt with a price tag of $3000.00, but with little notice there was no way he could save the money in time to make the trip. With Ohio long being one of his “Bucket List” dream hunts, it was a heartbreaking decision, but he had to decline the offer.
Enter Tom Burke. Tom and Mike had become friends while serving together in Afghanistan. Tom is very passionate about Coon hunting, and shortly after returning from Afghanistan in 2011, one of Tom’s coon dogs had died. He was now on the search for a new raccoon dog. Tom knows his bloodlines very well and his passion is the English Coonhound. It just so happened to be that he found his next English friend in Ohio. Tom must have been serious about his dogs, because he drove 11 hours one way to pick up his new coon hunting hopeful. As is often the case with likeminded people, he not only got a new dog, but new lifelong friends as well, in the Meyer family. The Meyers were the breeders of Tom’s new pup and every year since 2011 the Meyer family has invited Tom out for an Ohio coon hunt.
Mike works as a Veterans Outreach Specialist and Tom is one of his many clients. Tom would often come into Mike’s office to drink coffee and shoot the bull. One day Mike had mentioned to Tom about his offer to go to Ohio and how bummed he was that he couldn’t go. Tom then told him about the Meyer family and said he would speak to them and maybe they would invite Mike out as a guest. Tom soon spoke to his friend Chris Meyer, and sure enough, Chris had invited Mike out for an Ohio deer hunt! Making it even better was the fact this was not going to be an outfitted hunt, so money wise, Mike was able to make it work.
The 2013 hunting plans were finalized and Mike would be staying with Chris’s dad, Art. True to the Myer family hospitality, Art had gone far and above anyone’s expectations by staking his own name and reputation on Mike’s behalf in order to find properties for him to hunt. This impressed Mike a great deal, because the only things Art knew about Mike was that he was Tom’s friend and he was a veteran.
That 2013 hunt went off without a hitch but Mike left Ohio unsuccessful. Art wouldn’t have anything to do with that so he didn’t hesitate to invite Mike back for the 2014 season.
The Hunt is Set, The Makings for a Big Buck Blog
One year later Mike and Tom were back in Ohio and the scenario was pretty much the same as the previous year. Once again they would be staying at Arts, and Mike would be hunting properties that Art had earlier gained permission to access.
Mike wasn’t after a particular deer, or necessarily a large buck for that matter. He was just hoping to take a bigger buck than he was used to seeing in upstate New York where he lived. He did however, wish to at least see one of the true giants that Ohio has recently become famous for. Maybe something big enough to be featured in The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog?
The alarm clock rang at 5:30 am on November 15 and with all the excitement and anticipation of a bucket list hunt about to begin, Mike gracefully rolled over and hit the snooze button! At 5:45 he hit it again! He did the same when it rang at 6:00 am. Finally, at 6:30, Art came in the bedroom and rousted him from the bed. A late night of hunting stories and watching football had taken their toll. Mike walked drearily from the bed straight to the couch where he once again laid down. He decided to check his phone and sure enough, tom had left him a message. Tom had left earlier for a trip to Indiana to pick up a couple dogs for a friend, and on his way he had recorded a message at 5:45 am. Tom’s message said this, “Monty, you better rise and shine Mister. I just saw the biggest deer I’ve ever seen, cross the road in front of me. Not far from where you hunt either.”
That was all the motivation Mike needed! Art offered to give him a ride to his stand, but those plans changed when they arrived at the area. Upon arriving at the drop off point, there were 4 deer standing adjacent to the field Mike needed to cross. One of them was a definite shooter. Art had made a quick plan to drive down to the next intersection where Mike would get out of the truck and put the rest of his gear on, and then ride on the tailgate of the pickup back towards the drop off area. Art would slow as he neared the drop off point. As he slowly drove along, Mike would slide off of the tailgate by the adjacent field and head toward the stand. The plan almost worked to perfection, but the shooter buck busted Mike about 25 yards into his journey to the stand.
The area Mike was hunting is very flat with a lot of tillable land broken up by fence lines, tiled ditches, and small woodlots. The stand location was on a fence line by a ditch. Other than being spotted by the big buck everything was still in Mikes favor. He was walking westerly into a northeast wind, and the deer were north of his position. When he got busted, all four deer headed farther north to the next road. Art, who was still watching this whole scenario unfold, acted quickly again. He sped up and turned onto the road the deer were headed for. He cut them off so they would not cross the road, this allowed Mike to get to his stand. It was now about 7:30 am.
The Show Begins
The next one hour and fifteen minutes were the craziest Mike had ever experienced while deer hunting. Once the deer held up and calmed down, Art went about his day. Observing the deer, Mike could tell there were three bucks and one doe. The shooter buck was running off the other two bucks the best he could. It was obvious the doe was HOT! Mike had been watching the chase for about 40 minutes when a truck pulled up to his east on the same road he had walked in from. The man in the truck saw the shooter buck too and seemed very interested. Suddenly Art came driving down the road on his return from town and he seen his friend Jim parked on the side of the road. Art told Jim the deer was fair game and gave him an idea of where Mike was sitting. After their talk, Jim started his stalk for the big buck.
Jim entered the field with his crossbow in hand. The wind was in his favor but he was also fully exposed. It didn’t take long and the four deer seen him, but to Mike’s surprise, when the deer ran they ran back towards his stand! All four deer were headed directly towards Mike’s stand, with the shooter buck bringing up the rear. The other two bucks weren’t hanging around any longer; one of them was a half rack 8 point that ran right in front of Mike’s but still 50 yards out. The other, a 1.5 year old 4 point went about 70 yards to Mike’s right and disappeared. The doe however, jumped into a ditch line about 80 yards to the right of the stand and held up. Would you like to guess who held up with her? Mister Shooter buck! But Jim was stalking him from the other side!
Imagine the thoughts racing through Mike’s mind; he had stayed up way too late; he was really late getting up and heading to the stand; and he had just been busted by the biggest deer he had ever seen. After watched that buck for a while, he’s now the closest to him he has been all day, and there’s a crossbow hunter stalking him from the opposite direction!
The buck is hung up on a hot Doe. It’s probably going to be the death of him. However, which hunter will have the chance to release that fatal arrow or bolt? Mike was literally getting sick to his stomach!
Jim was closing in fast and was only about 50 yards from the buck. However, the buck had been watching him ever since he stopped by the doe that was still bedded in the ditch. Finally sensing danger, the buck turns and runs away from Jim but stops broadside and stands 100 yards in front of Mike. Then the buck suddenly whipped around and ran back to the doe. Mike was swearing under his breath! Jim is closing in on the deer he’s now only 35-40 yards from the buck! Finally, the buck has had enough and retreats again. Following the same route he used for retreat the first time, but this time he didn’t stop 100 yards in front of Mikes stand, he kept going until he reached a small block of woods to Mikes left.
The Calm before the Storm
Suddenly, everything seems calm.
Jim continues walking the edge of the ditch line, getting closer to Mike’s stand. Art had told him he was there somewhere, but he wasn’t exactly sure. He was about 40 yards from the stand when he noticed which tree Mike was in. Jim gave a respectful nod, then turned and headed back towards his truck. This was a very honorable move by Jim and this big buck blog gives him the honor he deserves for being a true sportsman!
Jim had only traveled about 10 yards back in the opposite direction when the buck decided to come back out and get the doe. Jim suddenly and unexpectedly found himself in a tough spot. He can’t move; he is literally stuck between a hot Doe in the ditch line and an eager buck trying to get back to her! Jim is again about 40 yards from the buck but is in no position to maneuver. Slowly, he tries to turn towards the buck but instead spooks him at the same time. The buck turns and runs directly towards Mike!
Not so calm, and not so collected, Mike stands and draws his bow. At about 50 yards, the buck angles towards the small block of woods. Mike gives a couple mouth bleats. The buck doesn’t react. Mike gives a third bleat but this time much louder. It was enough to get the buck to slow down as he approached a shooting lane. He was 30 yards away and still moving at a trot through the opening when Mike released his arrow. Between the deer moving and Mike shaking like crazy, the arrow hit the buck in the spine, dropping him instantly. The buck still had use of his front end and he was trying to get into the woods. Mike hurried out of his tree and put the huge buck down for good. He had just killed his first buck with a bow, the same bow he had bought while deployed in 2010.
The great Sandusky County Ohio buck has 15 measurable points with a ton of character and a very unique look, a great deer for the big buck blog. His gross score is 200 1/8 inches and he net scores 185 6/8 inches for Pope & Young. His dressed weight was 212 lbs. and he was aged at 5 1/2 years old. A true trophy whitetail in anyone’s book!