- Lynn Burkhead
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When 15-year-old muzzleloader Tony Lovstuen tagged his renowned 319 4/8-inch "Iowa Walking World Record" whitetail buck last Sept. 29 near Albia, Iowa, most insiders thought the deer would eventually travel south.
That's because this May, the Monroe County whitetail's massive non-typical set of antlers will be panel scored at the Boone & Crockett Club's convention.
But thanks to a recent business transaction between the Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops and the Lovstuen family, the buck is making the move south a little ahead of schedule and permanently.
"We do own the deer," said Bass Pro Shops spokesman Larry Whitely.
After the rack is displayed at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention it will be returned to Springfield, where it will join the 225 other whitetail deer heads that Bass Pro Shops displays, Whitely said.
Whitely indicated the Lovstuen buck's set of antlers also will be shown at different locations and other corporate and outdoor-related events in the future.
Whitely indicated that there were several reasons for the purchase.
"One is that our founder, Johnny Morris, has a passion for those deer heads," Whitely said. "They're like fingerprints; God only created one of (them). They're like artwork, one of a kind."
The growing assemblage of Bass Pro Shops deer antlers, dubbed the "King of Bucks" collection, contains some of the sport's finest whitetails, according to Whitely.
The second-ranked Boone & Crockett non-typical Hole in the Horn buck and former B&C world-record typical Jordan buck (now No. 2 in the category) have found a home with Bass Pro Shops, as well as numerous state and national records, Whitely said.
"These are the original racks, not replicas," he said.
Whitely declined to put a price tag on the Lovstuen buck transaction.
The hunter's father, Doug Lovstuen, also declined to put a price on the non-typical rack, indicating such details were between his family and Bass Pro Shops.
"I'm not going to comment at all on the price," the elder Lovstuen said. "You're going to hear all kinds of things on the price. I can tell you that most of what I've heard is untrue."
"I'm still working, if that means anything."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the Lovstuen buck may have fetched close to $100,000.
Doug Lovstuen said his family will have a set of replica antlers to display at hunting and trade shows.
He and Whitely indicated that while the details remain to be worked out, Tony Lovstuen will make Bass Pro Shops appearances with the actual set of non-typical antlers.
After panel scoring of the rack is completed this spring, Doug Lovstuen indicated the deer will be entered in the Boone & Crockett records, with his son listed as the hunter and Bass Pro Shops listed as the owner of the rack.
Still, the elder Lovstuen admitted it was difficult to part with the actual rack itself.
"It was a hard decision to make, whether it was right or wrong," he said.
"(Tony) did have the final say in it, but he didn't have any problems with it," he said. "It beats (the rack) being locked up in my safe forever. That's not where it belongs."
Doug Lovstuen is hopeful life will soon settle back down to normal for his family.
"To sell the deer works out good for us," Lovstuen said. "Everyone is interested in the deer, but, unfortunately, we couldn't keep entertaining everyone who wanted to come out and look at the deer.
"Plus, there were the issues of fire and theft. I think that Bass Pro Shops is a good place for the deer to be. It's a world-class buck, and I always said that it needed to be in some sort of museum.
"Everyone can see it now, whenever they want."
With the Springfield location of Bass Pro Shops annually drawing as many as 4 million visitors, Whitely agreed the door is now effectively open for anyone wanting to see the historic set of antlers from what should prove to be the largest whitetail buck ever harvested by a hunter.
"I don't know where else in the world that that deer head would give so many people the opportunity to actually see it," Whitely said.
"Can you imagine that thing hanging there with the Hole in the Horn and with the Jordan buck? Oh my goodness."
Lovstuen buck sold to Bass Pro Shops; reports indicate rack may have fetched six-figure price tag