Whitetail taken by IL crossbow hunter scores 291 1/8 B&C


Mar 11, 2001
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Whitetail will be a conversation piece

May 10, 2002

Jeff Lampe, Peoria Journal Star

Ready or not, Jerry Bryant of Peoria is on the verge of becoming a national figure.

In the next few weeks Bryant - a retired Caterpillar Inc. worker - will become a hot commodity with reporters, collectors and manufacturers across the country.

The source of that instant interest? One whitetail deer. Or more accurately, one massive, near-record, extremely valuable whitetail deer.

Hunting with his crossbow last Nov. 15 in Fulton County, Bryant, 57, shot a whitetail buck most hunters could scarcely dream about. The deer's massive rack weighed 9½ pounds and had 36 scorable points.

According to the Boone and Crockett Club, official scorer Tim Walmsley of Fowler measured the non-typical set of antlers at 291 1/8 inches. That places Bryant's deer among the top five non-typical bucks ever recorded.

Deer scored as typical have antlers that are basically symmetrical. Non-typical racks often feature wild combinations of antler points here, there and everywhere.

That's certainly true of Bryant's buck, whose 36 points include an unusual scoop-shaped growth described as comparable to a caribou antler.

"It's the biggest deer I've ever seen," said Celeste Pollack, who checked the buck at Wolf Hollow Archery in Rome. "It's something you don't get to see every day. Really you don't get to see it every lifetime."

Indeed, only four deer have been scored larger and one of those has not yet been accepted by Boone and Crockett - a Montana-based organization that has kept records of native North American big-game animals since 1932.

Because of the money and prestige involved, large deer like Bryant's must be measured by a panel of scorers before Boone and Crockett will officially accept them. The next panel-scoring gathering is in 2004.

The largest non-typical on record was found dead in Missouri in 1981 and scored 333 7/8. The largest non-typical killed by a hunter was shot by Tony Fulton in Mississippi in 1995 and measured 295 5/8.

Given that elite company, it's perhaps understandable Bryant has been unwilling to talk about his deer - which should be worth more than $100,000 when all is said and done.

But the Peoria hunter plans to tell his story soon at a yet-to-be scheduled news conference. That event is sure to draw a horde of reporters and hunting-product manufacturers.

Before long, we'll undoubtedly know what type of crossbow Bryant was using on his fateful hunt, what camouflage pattern he was wearing and possibly even what boots carried him into the timber.

We'll also know more specifics about the deer, which had a 23-inch inside spread between main beams. And we'll know more about Bryant, who was required to have a special state permit in order to hunt with a crossbow.

In time, Bryant should become a part of Illinois hunting history and join two other local deer-hunting legends.

Richard Pauli of Dunlap holds the current Illinois non-typical record for a 267 3/8-inch Peoria County buck he shot in 1983. And Mel Johnson of Metamora owns the world archery record for a 13-point typical buck that scored 204 4/8 in 1965.

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