Lucas Clark almost pulled the trigger early on Saturday. The hunting season half-over, few hunters would have blamed him. After all, two does were in his sights, and either one would provide a lot of venison for the freezer.
Clark didn’t pull the trigger. And what happened next will provide Mainers with plenty of hunting camp fodder for years to come.
“Out of the top of my scope I saw a white rack and a deer coming across the frosty bog,” said the Northport 15-year-old, who was hunting with 45-year-old Jerome Bucklin, also of Northport. “I took the time and all I saw was the normal side of his rack.”
The “normal” side on this deer was impressive. The other side, however, was breathtaking. It would take a few minutes for Clark to realize that, however.
“I walked up to him. Where we were hunting, there were all these cranberry bushes. His other [not-so-normal] side was down in there. When I picked him up, I couldn’t believe my eyes, really,” Clark said.
The right side of the burly deer’s antlers wasn’t nearly normal. In fact, the deer sported two main beams and so many points that it took some effort for Clark and Bucklin to come to a consensus on how many there were. First, however, Bucklin says he had to calm down a bit.
“[Lucas] was just as calm as he could be,” Bucklin said. “I was just about hopping up and down.”
Clark said he wasn’t celebrating because he couldn’t believe what he was looking at.
“I was like in shock. We came up with 18 [points] the first time and we started kind of freaking out about it,” Clark said. “We counted it about six times and realized it was a 20-pointer.”
A 20-pointer, yes. But this was a 20-pointer with massive antlers that have left even veteran deer experts with little to compare them to.
“It’s an eyebrow-raiser and an eye-bulger to look at that thing,” said Lee Kantar, the head deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Kantar’s DIF&W colleague, Randy Cross saw the deer up close. Cross has been checking and studying deer for 35 years. And he left impressed.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a bigger rack. It’s definitely in the top three of what I’ve seen.”
Kantar said he forwarded pictures of the deer’s antlers to other biologists across the northeast and New Brunswick but has not heard back with explanations for its odd configuration. According to a research paper Kantar provided, odd or non-typical racks can be influenced by genetics, physiological problems or injury.
Antlers often are scored by groups that recognize trophy racks, including the Boone and Crockett Club and the Maine Skull and Antler Trophy Club. Measurements including the antlers spread, mass and length of points are considered in those calcuations. Cross said he’d expect Clark’s deer to score around 190 points.
By way of comparison, Maine’s top-rated non-typical buck was shot by Hill Gould in 1910. The deer was a 31-pointer that scored 259 Boone and Crockett points, according to published accounts.
One of the main beams on Clark’s deer, Cross said, was 46 millimeters, or 1.8 inches, in diameter. And even those who measured the antlers with nothing but their eyes were impressed, Clark said.
“Everybody said I had to leave the head by the tailgate of the truck so that the people who were driving behind us could see it,” Clark said. “We had a line of people following us that pulled into the store just to look at the deer. Then we had people that were at the store that came over to check it out — they had to have pictures. And there were people who would drive by and see either me holding it up or a lot of people, so they’d turn around and come see what it was.”
Bucklin said it took the pair 45 minutes to tag the deer at Belfast Variety — it weighed 190 pounds — and deal with the throng.
“Everybody wanted pictures of it. Everybody and their brother has seen it now,” Bucklin said.
Clark said he began to realize the magnitude of the situation during that 45 minutes at the store.
“I was still in shock. I don’t think I really realized what I had shot until at the store I was offered $5,000 [for the head]. If I put it on the Internet [people have said] I would have been offered $10,000.”
And after he and Bucklin escaped from the tagging station, the visitors — and bidders — kept on coming.
“We had people coming to look at it until probably 9:30 at night. The next morning a guy from Lincolnville came to my house and looked at it and offered $2,500,” Clark said.
Those bidders, Clark said, are wasting their time.
“There’s no chance I would sell that. I’m going to get a head mount and keep it my living room for as long as I live,” Clark said. “[It’s] nothing I’ll ever be getting rid of. I’ll never see anything like it again.”