By Tim H. Martin
I think we'd be amazed if we knew just how many record book antlers are gathering dust in attics and garages across the country, yet never get any recognition.
As the art director for Rack Magazine, I’ve designed dozens of stories about state and world record bucks that surfaced after decades of going undiscovered in closets, hardware stores and gas stations.
They are often discovered after a happenstance conversation with a BTR scorer, with the antler owner casually mentioning Uncle So-And-So shot a buck in 1970-something, but Aunt So-And-So made him hang it in the shed in 1980-something, so it never got scored.
That's when the BTR scorer's eyes light up and arrangements are made to pull a ratty, bug-eyed mount out of the darkness to be shared with the world.
This scenario isn't much different than the Alabama monster I discovered in 2012.
My good friend and neighbor, David Goodling, needed a lift from a mechanic shop one day, and on the ride home the subject of deer hunting came up.
He said, "Back in 1994, I found a HUGE buck dead on the side of the road. I should get Buckmasters to score it sometime. That thing is THIS wide, with brow tines THIS long."
David stretched his hands out across the dashboard, then held his fingers 12 inches apart.
I was a bit skeptical, but knew he wasn't one to exaggerate, so I offered to have a look at the rack when we got to his house.
My jaw dropped when he emerged from the basement with one of the most gorgeous sets of antlers I'd ever seen from an Alabama buck. I knew it would easily make the BTR book in the Pickup category. The only question was, how high would it place in the state's records?
BTR Chairman Mike Handley taped David's buck the next day, but not until after every editor, cameraman, artist and even Jackie Bushman himself came by to gawk.
Its official BTR score is 147 1/8, with a composite score (spread added) of 169 5/8, making it Alabama's No. 2 Perfect in the Pickup category, something David never expected.
My buddy received a frame-worthy BTR certificate, and his name will forever be found in the BTR Record Book. But more importantly, now light has been shed on one of the most beautiful bucks ever to roam the forests of Alabama, available for all hunters to see and appreciate.
Do you have a record book buck gathering dust, or know of someone who might? If so, please contact one of the following BTR scorers by clicking here.
If it’s REALLY BIG, I recommend you email a photo to Rack Magazine Editor, Mike Handley. email@example.com
The BTR Record Book’s seventh edition contains 14,300 entries, 760 pages and 327 photos. It is available in our online store.
– Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin
I lost my friend David Goodling in a tragic boating accident in 2019. I’m so thankful he shared his big buck with me, as well as the many hours we spent on the baseball field with our sons. I will remember David for his big smile, our conversations at the local country buffets, his expert advice on how to fix my truck, and the countless small memories that made him a wonderful neighbor.
Editor’s Note: If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!
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