NYC Ross County deer joins Ohio’s big buck club
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Our notoriety here in The Buckeye State has its foundation in much more than the football team that bears the name of that thornily encapsulated nut that is actually a seed.
Ohio is known for being the cradle of U.S. presidents, since eight of them came from the state, and we claim the Wright brothers, aviation pioneers who did their best work in Dayton. Ohio also proudly touts its rich links in the automotive and glass industries, its highly productive agriculture, and its necklace of natural gems — Hocking Hills, the Lake Erie Islands, and Oak Openings, plus prolific spring bird migrations, many caverns, the world’s best walleye fishing, and an array of parks and preserves — plus picturesque Amish Country.
Well, it might be time to add another title, since Ohio seems to be producing an inordinate amount of trophy class white-tailed deer. We don’t have the most woods or wilderness, but somehow our mix of new forest and old, pastures and woodlots, grain fields and hill country, creates a lot of unique and other-worldly sets of antlers.
During the ongoing Ohio archery hunting season, Marcus Peecher took a buck that the rumor mill is strongly suggesting will flirt with the top lines in the record book. Like so many other mega-class deer, the Peecher Buck has experienced an unusual ride since that November day when it was arrowed here in Ross County, which is south of Columbus and about halfway to the West Virginia line.
A few Facebook pictures of the monster deer spread like wildfire, the popular ohiosportsman.com website featured a stunning photo of the big deer, but only a smattering of details trickled out from unfamiliar sources. There were whispers of “state record” and “world-class”, but before those threads could be investigated, things went very quiet. What usually happens with deer in this rarified antler class is that someone from a deer-centric business reaches out to the hunter, offers a significant amount of cash for exclusive rights to the story, and a gag order is imposed.
Ohio Division of Wildlife Ross County officer Bob Nelson has confirmed that Peecher buck is much more than an internet phenomenon. “I will say this, it’s a huge deer and was a 100 percent legal kill,” said Nelson, who added that he viewed the buck in person and visited the site.
In this case, “huge” translates into something in the neighborhood of a 234-inch green score. The Peecher buck will have to undergo a mandatory 60-day drying period before it can be officially scored, and it will also have to be classified as a typical or non-typical set of antlers.
Typical racks are essentially symmetrical with no unusual or down-turned points. Non-typical or atypical antlers display a multitude of variations, including uneven masses, wide blades, tines that drop, and some or all of the above. Non-typical racks often look like something went wrong on the third shift at the candelabra company.
The Peecher buck joins an increasingly crowded parade of Ohio’s truly record-class big deer. Bow hunter Shawn Evangelista harvested a massive 24-pointer in Ashtabula County in 2013, a deer he had pursued for three years and had captured on trail camera photos more than 100 times.
Mike Beatty took a monster non-typical in Greene County in the fall of 2000, and it scored at 304 6/8 inches, making it the largest non-typical taken in Ohio by an archery hunter. Early in the 2013 archery season, Mark Owen harvested a 22-point non-typical that scored at 256 inches while hunting in Wayne County.
Ohio bowhunter Dan Coffman harvested a freakish 37-point buck in Fairfield County in October of 2015, and sold the exclusive story of his hunt to North American Whitetail magazine. That publication did a six-page spread on the hunt and the non-typical whitetail wonder, which was given a 287 5/8 inch net score.
Brad Jerman took a 201 1/8 inch typical buck in Ohio’s Warren County in 2004 with a crossbow. In 2006, Jonathan Schmucker was hunting in Adams County when he took a non-typical 34-point buck that scored 291 2/8 inches. That same year, Justin Metzner used his bow to take a 10-point 196 6/8-inch typical whitetail buck in Adams County.
Mike Tonkovich, the PhD wildlife biologist who is the deer program administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, said there is a combination of factors that lead to the production of these genuinely healthy animals and their huge sets of antlers. He cites “Bergmann’s Rule”, an eco-geographical principle promoted by 19th century German biologist Karl Bergmann, which explains the relative size of warm-blooded animals in colder climates.
“It’s really quite simple. First, Bergmann’s rule states that animals, including deer, will have larger body sizes in colder climates than in warmer ones, all else being equal,” Tonkovich said. “With larger body sizes comes larger antlers, all else being equal.”
Tonkovich said diet is also a major factor in whitetail health and antler production.
“Important minerals and trace minerals in the soil and high protein diets contribute to larger antlers,” he said. “Third, there is genetics. And finally, they are living long enough to express those genes for large antlers that they’ve inherited.”
While we wait for the Peecher buck to come out of the shroud of secrecy, post its official score, and find its place in the Ohio big buck pecking order, we can only assume it had the diet, genetics, and longevity to reach that elite class.
Originally posted by Matt Markey | BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR Published on Jan. 6, 2017. Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6068.
Image courtesy OHIOSPORTSMAN.COM