Lovstuen buck earns favorable 60-day score

This live shot of the Lovstuen buck, courtesy of the Boone & Crockett Club, was taken before the deer was downed Sept. 29, 2003. 

It's another step toward whitetail hunting history.

The Lovstuen buck — a non-typical whitetail felled near Albia, Iowa, on Sept. 29 by muzzleloader-toting 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen — took that important step on Sunday when a team of six Boone & Crockett Club official measurers put their steel tapes together.

Following the completion of the 60-day drying period and the nearly 5½-hour scoring session that followed, B&C measurer Dale Ream indicated that the Monroe County whitetail remains well on its way to becoming the largest buck ever harvested by a hunter.

"He scored 319 4/8 inches," Ream said of the buck, which already is spoken of with the reverence reserved for legendary whitetails.

ESPNOutdoors.com has been unable to reach Doug Lovstuen, the father of the teen-age hunter, for his comments on the 60-day scoring procedure.

A crowd of 17 people — including two measurers from the Missouri Big Bucks Club who helped write down the numbers and keep notes on the tedious scoring procedure — witnessed the historic measuring session, according to Ream.

"We started about 12:30 in the afternoon and we finished a little after 6," Ream said. "It took us about 2½ hours on the right side and a little over three on the left.

"You've got to realize that this is a very big rack and there were several measuring calls that had to be looked at and made. It was not a simple rack."

Chief among those calls involved a tine on the rack's right main beam.

"On the right side, there was a 6 7/8-inch tine that we had originally called a G3," Ream said. (Tines are measured and recorded as G1 for the brow tine, G2 for the next typical point, G3 for the next typical point, and so on.)

"Basically, after reviewing the (original scoring) photos and taking some more, they were sent to Boone & Crockett for their review. Their recommendation was that it appeared to be abnormal and that I needed to review it very closely when we measured it, which I did."

That G3 scoring adjustment, coupled with antler shrinkage during the 60-day drying period, resulted in last Sunday's entry score being lowered several inches from the green score of 322 4/8 inches, which was obtained by Ream and measurer Randy McPherren in early October.

"I told them when I did it (in October) that I wasn't totally comfortable with that and that we might change that," Ream said of his original decision regarding the tine.

Once that G3 measuring call was made last Sunday and the buck's normal points were determined, Ream said that scoring the remainder of the 11-pound, 8-ounce rack was relatively simple.

"Recognizing the typical tines on that one side, that was the most difficult thing," Ream said.

"Once you have your typical points determined on an antler, all of the rest of the points on that antler are abnormal," he added. "Then it's just a matter of measuring them.

"It's kind of like a big puzzle where you've got a piece that you couldn't figure out where it fit, and once you did, everything else fit like a glove. That was the turning point. Once we determined that, it was easy after that."

Ream is confident that his scoring team's solution to that puzzle will stand when the rack is scored next spring by a panel of Boone & Crockett measurers.

"I feel comfortable that we're pretty well on the money," Ream said. "It will be reviewed by the B & C panel and they will verify our measurements, but I feel confident that our score will pretty well stand."

That panel measuring process will occur next spring in Kansas City, Kansas, at the Boone & Crockett Club's convention, according to B & C spokesman Keith Balfourd.

The convention will celebrate the various North American big game animals entered during the Club's 25th awards period, which concludes Dec. 31, 2003.

"The protocol for a trophy like this is that in an awards period, we invite any top-10 all-time animals and the top-five animals in that period," Balfourd said.

"This would definitely be a top-10 all-time (whitetail) and definitely a top-five for this period, so it would be invited to a judge's panel. The judge's panel is there to verify that score (the 60-day entry score)."

Balfourd indicated that the numbers obtained Sunday are likely in the ballpark of where the Lovstuen buck's final score will be.

"We rely on our official measurers," Balfourd said. "Our measurers go through a weeklong school.

"Occasionally, in the judges' panel, a score is lowered, and, occasionally, a score is raised. But more often than not, the entry score is accepted. But these big non-typical entries are tough. There are a lot of points going in different directions and there (are) more margins for error."

At the current 319 4/8 inch score, the Lovstuen buck would rank behind the B&C world-record non-typical Missouri Monarch — a 333 7/8-inch buck found dead near St. Louis, Mo., in 1981 — and the second-place non-typical whitetail — a 328 2/8 inch pick-up entry from 1940, the famous "Hole in the Horn" buck from Ohio.

In the end, it appears the Lovstuen buck is continuing on its path to the throne as the biggest whitetail ever killed by a hunter. The current occupant of that spot is a 295 6/8-inch Mississippi whitetail taken by Tony Fulton in 1995.

(The Mike Beatty buck, a huge Ohio non-typical whitetail tagged in November 2000, has a widely reported score of 304 6/8-inches. That score remains unofficial, however, since the deer has never been panel-measured by Boone & Crockett officials.)

In the end, next spring's Boone & Crockett Club panel measuring effort should merely complete the coronation of the Lovstuen buck as the best whitetail in North American hunting history.

"This is a buck that is (definitely) a player in the whitetail world," Ream said. "It's the biggest non-typical buck ever taken by a hunter; it's a muzzleloader world record, the Iowa state record and No. 3 all-time in the Boone & Crockett book.

"It's a big deer."

Indeed it is.