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
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
on thumbnail image for enlarged view.
is a shot of Bob Hardwick with his monster buck . . . taken at the Crane
Naval facility on November 21 with muzzleloading rifle.