Tag Archives: sheds

A Giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

Two Year Quest for a Giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog and this story about a giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine buck.

When you spend two years after one particular buck the hunt takes on an element of personal challenge. As many of you know from similar accounts, the story doesn’t always end in the hunters favor. However, when the pursuit of a particular buck reaches the level of obsession, the hunter seldom quits before the very last minute of legal hunting season.

It doesn’t take long, or much pressure, before a mature whitetail realizes he’s being hunted, and once they make that realization they become almost impossible to harvest by legal means. In most cases the deer will relocate to a quieter area with little or no pressure. Or they may become nocturnal, which is a natural occurrence among mature bucks; the cover of darkness becomes their greatest ally.  However, when a buck uses both tactics, relocating and becoming completely nocturnal, it suddenly becomes all but impossible to even find them within the limited allotted time of a fall hunting season. These are two of the toughest obstacles a deer hunter can overcome, and each of these tactics within itself has been the reason for many mature bucks to survive another season. It takes a seasoned and savvy hunter to pick up on these bucks and more times than not they are only setting themselves up for failure.

John Moore is just the type of hunter that will take up that type of challenge. John grew up on Cape Breton Island where he punched many of his whitetail tags while chasing bucks through the hardwood ridges, swamps and thick Spruce forests of the island. John now lives in northwest Saskatchewan and hunting here is a little different than what he was used to on Cape Breton.

John knows the importance of being within the game 365. He spends countless hours glassing fields, looking for sheds, and running trail cameras. This dedication has paid off with a wall full of above average deer, both whitetail and mule deer. Not being real keen on road hunting, John enjoys spending time glassing an area. Knowing full well that in Saskatchewan a hunter usually doesn’t have to go far before finding a shooter buck.

In 2014 he had permission to hunt a particular area for Elk and while spending time watching the fields for a good bull he kept seeing a decent number of whitetails. A couple of these bucks were of pretty good size and his attention was soon focused on a large Saskatchewan drop tine buck. After the Elk hunt was over he placed a bait and camera within the area in hopes of capturing daylight photos of one of the bigger bucks that were in the area. However, after a couple card pulls it became obvious the bucks were almost completely nocturnal. Not one to give up, John looked closer at the area and after studying a topographical map he found an area a couple kilometers away that seemed like it should be quieter for the deer. He relocated his bait and reset his camera.

Three days later he checked the camera for the first time and was shocked by what he saw. There, in all his glory, was the kind of Saskatchewan drop tine buck that fills most hunters’ dreams. He had it all; tall, chocolate antlers, good mass, long points and great character including a nice drop tine. It took John all of one second to know this was the buck he was going to focus on during the  2014 season. But there was one minor problem; he had to wait three weeks for the season to open!

A Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck Appears

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
The Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck in 2014

John kept the buck fed very well, adding more peas every five to six days as well as checking the camera. The buck was like clockwork, showing up regularly every night, but therein was another problem; the buck was only showing up at night. In typical big buck fashion, the wise veteran made one daylight appearance at 11am on November 14th, but 2kms away at the original bait site! Then, once again being true to mature whitetails, the big Saskatchewan drop tine buck completely vanished!

John hunted that first bait site for several days but the big buck never showed and the camera indicated he wasn’t around after dark either. He decided it was time to move back to his second site. Bingo, the buck was using the second bait site! Despite the camera showing only night time appearances John still put in his time hoping the big buck would make one mistake. But it wasn’t meant to be; despite sitting several days straight from daylight until dark, the season ended without a daylight sighting of the buck.

John decided to keep the bait active in the hopes of keeping the buck in the area for shed hunting. On the days of December 9, 10 and 11, the great buck was making two daylight visits to the bait, undoubtedly driven by post rut hunger. December 11th would be the last picture John would get of the buck that winter and he was worried the monarch had been lost to winter stress or possibly pulled down by wolves or coyotes. John covered the entire area during spring shed hunting hoping he’s at least find the buck dead. But there was nothing, not a single trace the great buck had ever been in the area.

A New Year and a New Plan

The thought of the buck was haunting John, he couldn’t accept the idea that the big deer was dead. As most vertebral trophy whitetail hunters know, mature bucks don’t die easy. Just because they disappear doesn’t mean they are dead. John was well aware of this fact and it’s what kept his hopes alive.

It took until October first for the big buck to finally make an appearance. He was now bigger, with even more character and he also added a huge drop tine to his left antler! To say John was excited and relieved would be an understatement. He was now more determined as ever before to add the great buck to his wall of honor.

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
Imagine Finding this Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck on Your Trail Camera!

John kept baiting within the bucks home range but due to work commitments was only able to hunt three days in October. It didn’t really matter anyway as the buck was living up to its reputation and living life under the cover of darkness. But John had a different game plan this year. After an entire year of thinking about the deer and its patterns, he decided to abandon the ground blind and instead he built a 14 foot tall elevated stand. He hoped this would help keep his scent away from the deer and also allow him better visibility of the entire area.

The Saskatchewan weather was warm during November of 2015 and warm weather at this time of year usually means nocturnal deer. Sure enough, the buck was almost completely nocturnal. But the key word is almost; the deer had made two daylight visits in November, once on the 9th and again on the 14th. Two daylight photos of the buck in two months was all the hope John Moore needed.

The Hunt for the Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck Begins

On November 22nd, John left the house telling his wife, “Today’s the day he’s gonna die”. He was in the stand and comfortable by 8:30 am. At 4:00pm a small buck walked into the bait. Normally a little buck would be of no interest to John but this one was often seen with the big drop tine buck, so his appearance immediately put the hunter on high alert.

Suddenly John heard the leaves rustle but thought it was just a doe walking through the high grass. He decided to look below him anyway and when he did he almost had a heart attack, standing directly below him was the drop tine buck! Having forgotten to turn the magnification down on his rifle scope, when he first pulled his gun to his shoulder all he could see in the scope was hair. John reminded himself not to panic, and with trembling hands he managed to adjust the power ring down to six. By now the buck had taken a few steps away from the stand, he was a mere 14 feet away when the 300 Weatherby barked; the buck died instantly.

After he calmed down a little and realized the buck would never move again, he sent a text message to his wife, “He’s down!” is all he sent. Then he sent a text to his Son telling him to bring the pickup. He then climbed down from the stand and finally, after two long seasons and hundreds of hours invested, he was able to put his hands on the monarch. “What a rush!” John told me. To hunt exclusively for two years after one particular deer, not once seeing the animal in the daylight, after the constant roller coaster of highs and lows, the disappearing acts, and to finally be successful on that particular buck, is something very few hunters will ever experience. It takes a special hunter with a specific mind set to pull it off.

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
John Moore and his Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

When John’s wife and son finally arrived the first thing he said to them was, “Now what am I going to do? I have to find another one for next year!” John Moore has a Whitetail Obsession!

Some deer are built for scoring well and some deer, while being bigger, just don’t do well under a tape. But score isn’t everything. Johns buck taped out at a very respectable 164 inches. However, that number is no indication of just how big this deer really is. Great mass, width, height, and great character topped by a huge drop tine, make this deer an envy of any trophy hunter.

Have you signed up for the FREE “Buck-Tales” Newsletter? Click here and do so now! I promise no spam, no click bait, and no sharing your info. Just news and note from the world of big whitetails, and an occasional story like this one about a Saskatchewan Drop Tine buck!

Minnesota Monarch

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch

Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog, and the article about the Minnesota Monarch. The intent of this article to shed light on the sheds antlers and answer the following questions; are there three sets of sheds from the Minnesota Monarch? And did a hunter shoot the Minnesota Monarch?

Whatever became of the Minnesota Monarch? Are the three sets of sheds attributed to him truly all from this great buck? Was the deer finally killed by a fortunate hunter?  Today there are still just as many unanswered questions surrounding the disappearance and demise of this great buck as there were at the turn of the decade of the 1990’s. In fact, none of those questions have ever been answered.

The intent of this article is to shed some light onto little known facts surrounding this great buck, and to hopefully help solve the question of whether the Minnesota Monarch fell to a lucky hunter’s bullet, or simply walked into the wilderness to never be seen again. We’ll examine evidence by comparing antler configuration and characteristics from the supposed three sets of sheds, and a final comparison of antlers from what some feel may be the actual hunter killed buck.

How Big are the Minnesota Monarch Shed Antlers

The reigning world record non typical whitetail shed antlers have long been considered one of the most awe inspiring whitetails to ever grace the pages of history. As the highest net scoring whitetail ever recorded from the wild, the beautifully curved antlers have long been a publisher’s favorite, appearing on over 50 magazine covers and featured within countless articles, a true testament to its beauty and grace.

solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; this side view shows the beauty and grace of the largest set of antlers ever recorded from a wild whitetail.

As the antlers are mounted in the above photo, which is an exact replica of the bucks 1990 set, finished and mounted by Klaus Lebrecht of Antlers by Klaus, the sheds have a 23 3/8 inch inside spread. By all practical reasoning this appears to be a very conservative width. On the typical portion for each side the right antler scores 87 7/8 inches while the left side goes 84 4/8. Adding the spread credit gives the buck a 195 6/8 gross typical frame. Deductions for side to side symmetry differences total 8 7/8 inches, which gives the deer a respectable 186 7/8 net typical score. Another impressive feature of these antlers is the 50 inches of combined mass measurements. That places the Minnesota Monarch within exclusive company as very few wild deer have recorded 50 or more inches of mass.

minnesota monarch live photos
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; a rare live photo of the legend himself, the Minnesota Monarch

The numbers get even more interesting when we look at the 147 1/8 inches of total non-typical antler the buck grew. The right antler alone carries 92 1/8 inches of extra antler, which is a record in its own. The right antler has a total non-typical score of 180 inches! It is also the existing single antler non-typical world record shed. The left antler, with its 55 total inches of extra antler, has a final score of 139 4/8 inches. As for the shed antler record book, the great deer is listed as the world record non-typical matching set at 310 5/8 net inches. Remember, the shed antler record book does not allow a spread credit in its scores, so 310 5/8 is pure bone! As the sheds are mounted in the above photo the deer grosses and unreal 342 7/8 inches and net scores 334 even! Those types of numbers are rivaled only by the Boone & Crockett world record Missouri Monarch, and Ohio’s famous Hole in the Horn buck.

The Minnesota Monarch Mystery #1, Are There Really Three Sets of Shed Antlers?

Yes, there are three sets of sheds entered in the shed antler record book that are credited as being from the Minnesota Monarch. The 1990 set pictured above, a 1989 set that would score in the 230’s on the B&C system. These were followed up with a 1991 set that had 30 points and would score a little over 200 inches with a modest spread credit. All three sets are entered in the shed antler record book and are claimed to be from one deer. There are however, several people, including myself, that believe differently. Let’s examine the antlers themselves, and in particular the areas between the burrs and brow points.

The Minnesota Monarch shed antlers
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; are all these sheds from this great buck?

Whitetails have proven that when it comes to antler growth we need to expect anything and everything. What a buck grows one year may be quite different in the following years. There are however, a few “genetic locks” when it comes to antlers. For instance, the beading and veining within antlers from individual bucks will often remain relatively the same from year to year even with configuration changes. Also, the brow points usually stay very close to the same from year to year and their placement on the beams, at least within the several thousands of antlers I’ve looked at over the years, will remain the same. Color is also another characteristic that seldom changes from year to year.  These are important attributes that need to be examined  if we are to solve the mysteries around the Minnesota Monarch.

Look at the photo below, from left to right are the same side antler burrs from the three consecutive years of sheds attributed to the Minnesota Monarch, 1989, 1990 and 1991. A couple things really jump out at me. The first is the spacing between the burr and brow points. With two of the sets, 1990 & 1991, the base of the brow points sit very close to the burr. This fact is very rare in whitetails and it should be one of the genetic locks that we can count on from year to year. When comparing this distance on the 1989 set, it is obvious these antlers have a more “normal” space between the burr and base of the brow points. Another point is the burring and veining of the antlers. The sets from years 1990 and 1991 are nearly identical, but the 1989 set doesn’t match the later year sets.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; are all three sets of sheds really from the Minnesota Monarch?

One more point: Biologists have told us that the pedicels on a buck are similar to a human fingerprint. Meaning, they will remain similar from year to year unless distorted from injury. Again, the pedicels on the 1990 and 1991 sets appear to be very similar while the 1989 set looks to be different in size, shape, and texture. It is this writer’s belief that the 1989 set of sheds belonged to a different buck than the 1990 and 1991 sets.

Was The Minnesota Monarch Ever Killed? Mystery #2, the Eye Witness Accounts

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch.

This is one of the greatest mysteries surrounding the Minnesota Monarch. Some will say that yes, the buck was killed in 1991 by a female hunter. Others are of the impression that the hunter killed a different deer altogether. Let’s examine the facts and find a reasonable conclusion.

The person that picked up all three sets of shed antlers has from the beginning said there were two bucks using his winter feed pile that looked nearly identical. These bucks were so close in resemblance that he most always referred to them as being twins. They were each on his property for a couple years, and they both disappeared the same year. Now, let’s consider some things surrounding this great mystery.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; one question always asked is whether the Minnesota Monarch was ever killed by a hunter? Some feel this rack is from the Minnesota Monarch

There is no question that during the deer hunting season of 1991 there was a huge buck killed by a female hunter, and that it was killed very close too, if not right on, the shed finders property. This deer came to light during the 1992 Minnesota Deer Classic. It was brought in by Lisa Baxter and it has long been believed to be the final set of antlers from the Minnesota Monarch. The Baxter buck scored an impressive 228 4/8 net inches. However, there are a couple details with Lisa’s deer that bring a conflict to what was previously known about the Minnesota Monarch.

One such conflict comes directly from the landowner and shed finder himself. He mentioned within a couple early interviews that the “Big One”, as he often referred to the Minnesota Monarch, didn’t show up on his property until “mid-February”. In fact, the deer was so consistent with this pattern that he actually knew when to expect the buck to show up. With the landowner being so certain of when this buck would arrive each year, how is it the buck would be there in November of 1991? As we know, whitetails are creatures of habits and patterns and are quite consistent with daily and seasonal structuring. Because of this I have strong doubts the Minnesota Monarch was killed by a hunter.

But there’s one more very compelling piece of evidence, and this is within the antlers themselves. As was brought out earlier in this article, the spacing between the burrs and the base of the brow points were nearly identical with the 1990 and 1991 sets, and the 1989 set was completely different. If we examine the burrs and compare them to the burrs of the killed buck, what conclusion would you draw? Minnesota Monarch; Solving the Mysteries, take a close look at the picture I posted below, in my opinion; the kill buck matches the burr to brow spacing, the beading, and the veining, of the 1989 set of sheds. I am of the belief the deer killed by Lisa Baxter was not the Minnesota Monarch, but was a second buck, the same buck the landowner referred to as being a twin of the Minnesota Monarch.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; comparing the bases of the three sets of sheds and the hunter killed buck
Minnesota Monarch; Solving the Mysteries

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the mysteries surrounding the Minnesota Monarch. Do you believe he was killed by Lisa Baxter? Do you believe all three sets of sheds are from the Minnesota Monarch, or only two? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Obviously, a big reason this deer is so popular is because of the celebrity status achieved from the countless magazine appearances, but another reason hunters have an interest in this deer is because of the unanswered questions surrounding him. Many are still asking, and speculating about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and eventual demise. It is my opinion, based on what I have presented within this article that the Minnesota Monarch simply walked away like a ghost into the wilderness, to never be seen again. A fitting end to the largest net scoring whitetail to ever grace the earth!

Be sure and sign up for the FREE Buck-Tales Newsletter and grab a copy of How To Find Whitetail Deer Sheds while you’re here.