Missouri's NEW State Record Non-Typical!
Another record falls in Missouri as a firearms hunter bags the State's biggest non-typical whitetail buck ever taken by a hunter!

by: TONY KALNA Jr.

Records are made to be broken or so they say. Missourians are well aware of this fact. Professional athletes seem to be breaking long-standing records every year. St. Louis sports fans saw this record breaking phenomenon in baseball when the Cardinal's Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris' single season MLB home run record in 1998 with 70 monstrous homers. Roger had the record for 37-years prior to that by hitting 61 round trippers back in 1961! Of course, Barry Bonds has since topped McGwire's mark with 73 homers in 2001! Football fans watched the Ram's own Marshall Faulk capture the single-season NFL touchdown record as he crossed the goal line 26 times in the 2000 season. The old record was held by Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith who had 25 touchdowns during the 1995 season.

The whitetail world is a mirror image of the record setting trend of professional sports. Missouri deer hunter's mouths keep falling wide open as records continue to topple with amazing frequency. In 1999 Missouri bowhunter Aaron McCauley arrowed a new state record typical whitetail. Aaron shot the record class whitetail which scored 191 4/8-inches as a 10-pointer in St. Louis county. The previous typical archery record was a 181 5/8-inch typical shot in Chariton County in 1991.

The whitetail records continue to shatter in Missouri. In 1985, Duane Linscott shot a magnificent 27 point buck in Chariton County which netted a whopping 259 5/8 inches as a non-typical, making it the biggest whitetail ever killed in Missouri by a hunter. For 16 years, Linscott reigned at the top of the heap of hunters in the Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club record book. However, the 2001 firearms season ended this record too with a gigantic non-typical buck taken from a central Missouri farm.

Kevin Thomas of Sweet Springs, MO and his family have a rich tradition of deer hunting in their history. Kevin and his three brothers are avid whitetail hunters thanks to their deer hunting parents Robert and Alberta. For years, Robert Thomas, the patriarch of the family, held the Thomas family whitetail record with a 163 1/8-inch 10 point buck he bagged in Benton County in 1985. Little did he know it but Kevin was about to topple his father's record as well as Missouri's state non-typical hunter-killed whitetail record during the 2001 deer season!

Kevin Thomas is like most deer hunters in Missouri. He is a hard working family man who takes his deer hunting seriously. With 16 years of deer hunting experience under his belt he is not a novice to be sure but he never would have dreamed what he would tag on Nov. 10, 2001.

It was the opening morning of Missouri's November firearms season and Kevin was hunting a 300-acre farm in Saline County. In case you didn't know, Saline County is located in central Missouri, south of the Missouri River, northwest of Jefferson City and west of Columbia. Neighboring counties south of the Missouri River are Lafeyette, Johnson, Pettis and Cooper. Counties north of the river are Carroll, Chariton and Howard. Now that you have an idea of where Kevin Thomas was hunting let's take a closer look at the habitat on the 300-acre farm he was actually on.

That country music song by the Dixie Chicks, "Wide Open Spaces", best describes the farm. In fact, the only cover on the place is a five-acre patch of brush, the rest is all row-crops. Just after 6 a.m. on that fateful opening day last year, Kevin was carefully walking across one of the fields to his hunting box he has built which sets about two feet off the ground overlooking a hollow. Kevin was walking to his stand and was about half-way across a waterway in the field which contained corn on the top half and beans at the bottom. With just four rows of corn left in the field Kevin spotted a deer about 150 yards from him.

The hunter strained his eyes but couldn't tell whether the deer was a doe or a buck until it turned its head and he then knew it had a rack on its head. Not necessarily being a trophy hunter that was good enough for Kevin. He watched as the deer continued walking in his direction. The buck continued toward Kevin until he was a mere 45 yards away! Even at this close range he couldn't tell what size rack the buck sported because his eyes were watering badly from the high winds in the field. How big the buck was didn't really matter to Kevin he just wanted to fill his tag and with one shot to the top of the deer's shoulder from his Remington 700 .30/06, the buck was down for good.

It wasn't until Kevin walked over to the fallen deer down at the bottom of the gully did he know just how unique and large his buck was. The deer had an enormous rack with antler tines sticking up and in all directions, 33 points total! Oddly enough, the rack also had lots of velvet on it! Once Kevin saw this trophy whitetail he started dancing around and once the initial excitement wore off he sat atop the terrace admiring the gigantic buck. He knew he had some kind of record.


Kevin Thomas of Sweet Springs, Mo's velvet covered buck had 33 scorable points!

After Kevin's heart returned to normal rhythm, he went and acquired the assistance of the farmer across the road to help get the big whitetail out of the field which he estimates to have weighed about 250 pounds!

The Boone & Crockett score sheet says it all. The dimensions of Kevin Thomas' record book buck are as follows: --Number of points on the right antler 16; left antler 17. --Inside spread is 13 inches; greatest spread is 18 2/8 inches. --Length of right main beam is 20 6/8 inches; left main beam is 22 4/8 inches. --Length of G2 on right antler is 9 1/8 inch; left antler 10 6/8 inch. --Total inches of abnormal points on right antler is 92 inches; left antler 88 4/8 inches. When you add the 101 6/8 inches from the basic racks subtotal to the 180 4/8 inches of abnormal point inches, the Kevin Thomas buck nets a whopping 282 2/8 inches as a non-typical making it Missouri's new #1 hunter-killed buck of all time!


A front view of Kevin's state record book rack without the velvet is still incredibly impressive!

A side view of the Saline County giant helps display the unbelievable mass of the rack.
 

Biologically Speaking If you are like me, you are probably wondering how a deer could possibly ever grow a rack like this one. I asked Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife research biologist Lonnie Hansen that question. "It's hard to say what caused this particular buck to grow such a cactus rack," Hansen said. "We would first have to find out whether or not the rack was completely calcified. If it wasn't, maybe some sort of hormonal imbalance kept the buck from producing enough testosterone and that's why it still had velvet on it."

Hansen went on to say that some pen-raised deer that were once infected with hemmoraghic disease (EHD a.k.a blue-tongue) grew an oddly configured rack the next year. A very distinct possibility is that when the antlers pedicels were first in development as small velvet covered nubs on the bucks head, the buck could have possibly hit his head into a tree or some other object, damaging those pedicels and causing the rack to develop so abnormally. "The fact that the rack still had velvet suggests a hormonal imbalance," Hansen said. "However, the buck might have been completely healthy but with the odd configuration it simply might not have been able to rub off the velvet itself."

When asked about the number of trophy whitetail records that continue to be broken in Missouri, Hansen suggested that hunter attitudes and the State's permit system may have something to do with it. "I feel that more and more hunters are becoming selective and changing their attitudes about the size of buck they harvest," Hansen said. "I believe this factor alone has a lot to do with the any-deer and bonus permits that are available to hunters now in Missouri. I believe that a lot of deer hunters are now filling their freezer with antlerless deer on their bonus permits and holding out for trophy class bucks with their any-deer permit."

For The Record Book Dale Ream is director of records for the Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club which is Missouri's whitetail deer record keeping system. Dale who personally measures and records hundreds of Missouri trophy bucks each year knows as much as anyone when it comes to record book bucks. "I believe this buck is a by-product of EHD (epizoic hemmoraghic disease)," Ream said. "Missouri had a big outbreak of EHD in north Missouri about three years ago and several smaller outbreaks since then."

According to Ream, the Thomas buck isn't the only buck like this that has been taken recently in Missouri. The only difference is that the other bucks were smaller but had the same characteristics. "You can't technically call this buck a cactus buck because cactus bucks do not ever shed their antlers," Ream said. "The Thomas buck appears to have been in the process of shedding it's velvet and it looks like the antlers were solidified so this isn't a cactus racked." Also, the Thomas buck had testicles and cactus bucks either don't have any testicles or their testes never drop.

The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club published the first edition of Missouri's whitetail record book in 1999. If you would like to order a copy of the book or be put on a mailing list for the 2nd edition which will be published in a couple of years, or if you have a trophy buck that you would like scored, you can call Dale Ream at 660-947-3650.

Summary
Kevin Thomas will reign at the top of the hunter heap as Missouri's #1 non-typical whitetail. How long he will stay on top remains to be seen. The only record that seems untouchable is the 333 7/8-inch non-typical state and world record found dead back in 1981 in St. Louis County. Who know though, with the way the records keep toppling, maybe you will be sitting on top of the next world record after this year's deer seasons! END