Hunter shatters state buck record

`Stunning' total antler score exceeds 1987 mark by 40 inches

November 30, 2006|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,Sun reporter

Last year, Bill Crutchfield Sr. made a run at the big bucks in Maryland's "Diamond Jim" $1 million fishing tournament.

This year, his son got a different kind of big buck - a deer with antlers massive enough to put most chandeliers to shame and obliterate a state record almost two decades old.

"He does the fishing, and I do the hunting," said Bill Crutchfield Jr., as he waited yesterday afternoon for state certification.

With a crowd of camera-phone-toting hunters and Department of Natural Resources officials watching, Crutchfield hauled the carcass from the refrigerator at Hitchcock Taxidermy in Severn for the tale of the tape.

The buck had 13 points on each 25-inch antler. The entire rack spanned slightly more than 21 inches tip to tip. After measuring all the antler tines and space between the prongs, Crutchfield's total score was 268 4/8 inches, breaking the mark set in 1987 of 228 4/8 inches (antlers are measured in 1/8th-inch increments).

"That's stunning. That's a beast," said Paul Peditto, the head of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Service.

For Crutchfield, Monday afternoon's hunt in southern Charles County was a waiting game that began just minutes after he settled into his tree stand and heard a sound behind him in a marsh.

"I turned around and seen him lay down about 100 yards away," recalled Crutchfield, 39, a Charles County native and a firefighter at the Indian Head Naval Surface Weapons Center. "I seen him shake his head and could see just a bit of his rack. I seen him last year and I knew he was big."

To calm his nerves, he called a hunting buddy, who reminded Crutchfield that he had plenty of daylight left and to take deep breaths.

About an hour passed as the hunter calculated the distance and thought about the shot. Suddenly, about 40 yards behind the big buck, an eight-point buck walked out.

Minutes later, "my deer stood up and it was over like that," said Crutchfield, who after looking at the buck called his friend again to alert him that the state record was in jeopardy.

To gain a spot in the national record books, Crutchfield will have to let the antlers air-dry for 60 days and then submit them for additional measurements to an official of the Boone and Crockett Club, the official record-keeping organization for North American big game.

Because some bucks develop racks that do not have an equal number of tines on each side, the club divides entries into "typical," or symmetrical, and "non-typical."

While the unsymmetrical antlers on Crutchfield's buck will never be mistaken for the world record of 333 7/8 inches, they easily made the 185-inch minimum to be included in the next edition of the Boone and Crockett award book.

Word of Crutchfield's accomplishment attracted a previous record holder, Walt Lachewitz of Gambrills, to Hitchcock's shop, to swap stories and snap pictures.

"Sad? No," said Lachewitz, who in 1998 bagged a white-tailed deer on the Eastern Shore that scored 185 7/8 inches. "I'm happy when someone gets a big one because it doesn't happen often. You could hunt for 10 lifetimes and not see a buck like that."

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