"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Taxidermists Report Heavier Deer Racks 
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

It is far from conclusive evidence that the “one-buck rule” is bringing about heftier racks on deer, but one of the leading taxidermists of the state is seeing signs that point in that direction.

Don Pratt, whose Lebanon shop is one of the oldest and largest taxidermic operations in the state, tells me deer racks coming into his shop this year are of greater quality than he has been seeing in recent years. Moreover, he says he is getting greater numbers of racks for mounting than ever before.

 “The racks (he is receiving) are heavier this year,” Pratt says.

In most years this could be passed off as another would-be statistic, but with the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) instituting its "one-buck-per-hunter" rule in the 2002 seasons, it gains some significance.

Biologists of the DFW were quick to point out when the one-buck rule was adopted that it would take several years before any positive signs that this regulation would translate into more and bigger racks in Hoosierland. The DFW clings steadfastly to that thinking, but even in the face of hunter complaints after the 2003 seasons, they still said they would allow the regulation run its planned five-season course even though they still doubted that it will produce alarming results.

This, too, may fail to indicate the one-buck-rule is doing what perpetrators said it would do, but I am hearing reports of a huge typical rack being taken this year by a bow bender. I have not yet been able to authenticate reports with the name of the hunter and other details. The rack is said to have been green-scored at 198 inches. The state record typical for bow is a 195 1/8, 10-pointer, taken by B. Dodd Porter, Rockville, in Parke County (home turf) in 1985.

If, indeed, this 198 green-scored rack exists, the next question would seem to revolve around how much it may shrink as it cures?

Pratt says he has never green-scored deer racks, but he believes--as most deer rack experts say--“they lose a little.” Phil Hawkins, another great friend and highly respected Boone & Crockett, and Pope and Young scorer, says a ballpark figure might be two percent.

In the meantime, the next few weeks will unfold with reports of numerous other leviathan bucks (racks). That, indeed, has occurred even as this column is being written.

The aforementioned Hawkins tells of a buck with a huge rack (probably typical) being taken at the Crane Naval support facility by Bob Hardwick with muzzleloading rifle. Phil says he will score Hardwick’s rack in about 60 days. He says the 12 or 13-pointer is extremely hefty, the main beams being so large in circumference that the hunter’s hand will not encircle them.

If you are thinking of harvest figures for the recently ended firearms deer season, hang your thinking chapeau on a hook in the hall for a spell. There will be no figures on the deer harvest until some time after Santa slides down your sooty chimney.

That’s the word we get from the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).

For many years, you may recall, the DFW tallied the deer harvest weekly from reports received from some 200 official check stations around the state, but such counts no longer are being conducted, I have been told, and the DFW’s preliminary deer harvest tally will not be announced until late in December.

The last report we had, as I recall, covered the first weekend of the bow season.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

This is a shot of Bob Hardwick with his monster buck . . . taken at the Crane Naval facility on November 21 with muzzleloading rifle.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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