July 21, 2021
It's officially official, the spot reserved on bowhunting’s Mount Rushmore for Brian Butcher and his ginormous non-typical buck from Chase County, Kansas. As readers of Petersen's Bowhunting might recall, Butcher and his amazing 67-point whitetail were unveiled to the world at the 2020 ATA Archery Trade Show in Indianapolis.
That unveiling came only days after the buck was initially scored on Jan. 3, 2020. As the buck's incredible 60-day entry numbers became available, the whitetail and bowhunting world was wowed by a buck with three scorable points on the right side, 64 scorable points on the left side, a gross score of 343 4/8 inches, and a net score of 321 3/8 inches.
As Butcher and his buck's antlers were displayed in the Scent Crusher booth back in the early days of last year, big crowds were soon gathering within the Indiana Convention Center, all of this just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep across America.
Here at Petersen’s Bowhunting, we were able to catch up with Butcher and film this video about his buck — one that bowhuntingmag.com regulars watched plenty of times as we all learned more about this unique and amazing whitetail from the Sunflower State.
The buck was stunning back then, but Butcher knew that his huge whitetail would still have to withstand the scrutiny of panel scoring somewhere down the road. After the coronavirus scourge wiped out last year’s 2020 Pope and Young Club convention in Virginia and postponed this year’s convention from April until July, he had to sit on pins and needles for months and patiently wait to find out what his deer’s final numbers would be.
Last week at the 2021 Pope and Young Club Convention in Reno, Nevada, Butcher finally got his long awaited answer: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Meaning that when the Andover, Kan. resident flew into Reno, dropped his bags off at the hotel, and headed for the convention show floor, the display in front of his unique whitetail showed numbers that hadn’t changed even an eighth of an inch. It remained at 343 4/8 inches gross and 321 3/8 inches net.
At those lofty and unchanged numbers, the Butcher Buck is now officially the #2 non-typical bowkill of all-time, falling only behind the Pope and Young world record non-typical — a massive 327 7/8-inch bruiser arrowed by Virginia bowhunter Luke Brewster as he hunted in eastern Illinois in November 2018.
What’s more, at that score — the Butcher Buck would also become the second largest hunter-harvested buck in the Boone & Crockett book, falling only behind Brewster’s huge bowkill in that category. It would also check in at No. 4 all-time in the B&C record book, which is anchored by the 333 7/8-inch world record “Missouri Monarch” and the 328 2/8-inch “Hole in the Horn Buck” from Ohio. Both of those latter two deer are pick-up entries, which B&C allows for.
As noted previously, the Butcher Buck, for all of its unique configuration of 64 scorable points on the left side and three scorable points on the right side, is now an official member of bowhunting’s top four bucks of all-time — a Mount Rushmore whitetail specimen for sure.
While the rack has been controversial in the eyes of some, it’s worth noting that it has now passed the application of the rules of the P&Y record book, the rules of the P&Y official measurer’s manual, and the careful examination of eight official measurers.
Those include Ken Witt and Marc Murrell, two veteran Boone and Crockett measurers, who initially scored the Butcher Buck for 5 ½ long hours back in January 2020. It also includes the eyes of six other official measurers who examined the Kansas deer in two different panel measuring sessions leading up to the Reno convention.
With Pope and Young Club executive director Jason Rounsaville confirming earlier this week that the two different panel measuring groups spent anywhere from six to eight hours examining the buck’s unique rack and confirming the panel score, the hours and effort put into this complicated and difficult-to-score rack are impressive, totaling at least 17 hours of measuring effort.
“I’m not an official measurer, but I have a basic idea of how the measuring rules and processes go,” said Rounsaville with a wry chuckle. “But I’ll be honest, I have no idea of where to start on this deer.”
Rounsaville indicated that the two panel measuring groups had the measurer’s manual, years of collective wisdom and experience, and the original measurements from Witt and Murrell.
In the end, after the two panel groups — which Rounsaville says were each composed of three of the top measurers in the country — all ended up within the allowable differences, a fraction of an inch here or there. That allowed the Butcher Buck’s entry score to remain unchanged and for the deer to enter the Pope and Young Club’s Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America record book as the sport’s second highest scoring whitetail of all-time.
“For all of them to be within a few fractions of an inch, with all three scores being that way, you would hope for that to happen,” said Rounsaville. “I would have expected that something might have popped up along the way (that was slightly different), but it didn’t. To have three scores on a complex deer like that which are nearly identical, it’s just totally amazing and shows the detail and effort that those measurers show in the mastering of their craft.”
Butcher was also surprised by the unchanged score.
“I didn’t expect that,” he said of the buck receiving no upward or downward correction. “I thought the score last year by Ken and Marc would be pretty close, but I didn’t expect it to be completely unchanged. I couldn’t feel luckier about it all.”
He’s also relieved that the long odyssey he began back on Oct. 11, 2019 when he unleashed a fateful arrow in the Kansas whitetail woods is finally over. From the downing of the monster buck to the initial entry scoring 19 months ago to the unveiling of his deer to the world at the 2020 ATA Archery Trade Show, then from the cancelled convention last spring that got pushed back again earlier this year, it’s been a long ordeal that was finally capped last week in Reno.
If he’s had to be patient throughout the whole process as the COVID-19 pandemic has scuttled so many plans and timelines, that’s been even more so since Butcher crated the antlers up and shipped them off to panel a few months ago in the depths of a Kansas winter.
“They (Pope and Young) sent a letter telling me about the antlers and how they would be taken care of,” said Butcher. “I wasn’t nervous about that and I remember sending them off in February and thinking no big deal. It’s easy to say that, but I’ll be honest, the last month or so, I was pretty anxious and nervous about it all. We were on a nearly two-year long journey since I shot the deer and to find out that it’s as high as it is, I’m just blessed and lucky.”
Rounsaville doesn’t disagree and notes that Butcher’s whitetail and the world record Brewster Buck of November 2018 — if you’re scoring at home, that’s two non-typical bucks with a combined total of more than 640-inches of antlers taken less than a year apart — goes to show that whatever wildlife managers are doing here in North America, it sure seems to be working.
“That is the North American model of wildlife management working very well,” he said. “You always hear about the good old days (in hunting), well, we’re actually living in those right now in many ways. I think we had 10 new bowhunting world records unveiled at the convention and that’s just unbelievable.”
So are the Brewster Buck and the Butcher Buck — the current royalty in the whitetail world and two deer that have sent shockwaves through the hunting community since they were both taken. And at the P&Y convention last week, both were on display as Butcher received his long awaited final panel score number and Brewster showed off his world record and received the P&Y Club’s coveted Ishi Award.
“They (both bucks) are absolutely unbelievable to see in person and they are only overshadowed by how amazing the stories are and how well-deserving those two guys are for the deer that came their way,” said Rounsaville. “Ultimately, after having met and talked to both, I’m very impressed by Luke and Brian, they are just both great guys.”
So too are their Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 1A kind of non-typical bucks, not to mention the hunting tales behind those deer. Their stories and bucks were carefully vetted over these many months, their place in bowhunting history’s hallowed history is now fully secured, and the one-two punch of bowhunting for the world’s two biggest bucks has now seen that chapter closed as the Brewster Buck and the Butcher Buck take their rightful spots upon bowhunting’s Mount Rushmore.
As Rounsaville indicated, these two bucks and the two bowhunters that tagged them are deserving of all of the attention and honors that they’ve received in recent months, as well as confirming what we all already know — bowhunting is the one of the greatest pastimes in the world.
“I don’t think anybody expected to see two 320s at this convention,” chuckled Rounsaville. “But we did. And you love to see that, the competition between two big bucks to see which one will sit on top. I wouldn’t expect to see a deer this big at our next convention in 2023, but then again, who knows?”
Exactly, because as Rounsaville pointed out, for all of the challenges we have in the world right now in the woods and out, these are the good old days for whitetails and the bowhunters who passionately pursue them.
Just ask a couple of guys named Luke and Brian, because they know more than any of the rest of us.