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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Iowa buck likely biggest ever killed by a hunter

By Mark Taylor

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    In the world of deer hunting, Iowa's "Walking World Record" became more than just a mysterious legend the past few years.

    Not only had the giant buck been spotted regularly around the small town of Albia, it also had been caught on film and video.

    Yet every recent hunting season the buck would vanish, only to reappear when the shooting stopped.

    The giant whitetail's luck may have run out this fall.

    In late September, 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen of Albia killed a humongous whitetail during a special, youth-only muzzleloader hunt.

    Initial measurement of the 38-point rack produced a score that would make it the highest-scoring hunter-killed buck in history.

    Would the score hold up after the 60-day drying period required by the Boone and Crockett Club, the nation's primary big-game records organization?


    A team of certified scorers recently taped the rack out at 319 1/2 . The total was a slight drop from the initial, or green, score but the trophy is still by far the top hunter-killed whitetail recorded.

    The buck hasn't yet earned its official spot in the Boone and Crockett record book, where it would follow only two other whitetails, both of which were found dead.

    First, Tony has to submit a record application and a $25 fee to the Montana-based Boone and Crockett Club. Then the rack's score must be verified by an official Boone and Crockett panel at the club's annual convention this spring.

    Ohio hunter Mike Beatty is widely credited for taking the largest hunter-killed whitetail for his huge archery buck from 2000. The rack was initially scored at 304 3/4 , but the Boone and Crockett Club found a suspected error in the scoring. Beatty was told he needed to have the buck rescored but has yet to resubmit his trophy, said Jack Reneau, the club's big-game awards division director.

    The mystery surrounding Lovstuen's buck is not completely over.

    The Lovstuen family has not yet released photos of the buck, nor details of the hunt. The secrecy has prompted some cynicism in the hunting world.

    Some wonder if this will turn into a fiasco such as the one surrounding a buck killed by Michigan hunter Mitch Rompola in 1998.

    Photos of Rompola's wide-racked buck were available almost immediately, but the buck's antlers were seen in person by just a handful of people. Although measurers taped the rack out as an easy world record in the typical whitetail category, Rompola did not have it officially scored.

    Rompola also refused to allow the rack to be X-rayed by independent investigators. He even signed a legal agreement saying he would not make any claims to have killed a world-record typical whitetail.

    Despite Rompola's strange actions, plenty of hunters still believe him.

    As for what's now being called the Lovstuen Buck, I'm willing to give the boy and his family the benefit of the doubt even though I wasn't able to reach them.

    I suspect the delay in information is merely because of the family's reported plants to sell Tony's story and photos to the highest bidder.

    Although a world-record whitetail is one of the most sought-after trophies in the outdoor world, it may not be as lucrative as many hunters suspect.

    In addition to selling first rights to publishing the story and photos, the lucky hunter can earn some money for appearing with the trophy at outdoor shows, and by selling a limited number of replicas.

    A hunter also might be able to earn some money endorsing products used in the hunt.

    As for the value of the antlers themselves, it's hard to guess. Antler collector Larry Huffman told Outdoor Life magazine the antlers of Lovstuen's buck could be worth $100,000, but who knows what would really happen if the rack went on the auction block.

    The Lovstuen family has already gotten a big dose of the primary reward for killing a probable world-record whitetail: a huge amount of attention.

    One might question whether that's a reward or not.

Hellgate 100K

    Feel like running 62 miles? At once?

    Forty-two brave - crazy? - souls did this weekend during the Hellgate 100K race along the Glenwood Horse Trail in the Jefferson National Forest.

    The fastest was 29-year-old Ryan Cooper of Erie, Colo., who finished in 12 hours, 31 minutes, 22 seconds. Cat Phillips, a 28-year-old from Lynchburg, was the fastest woman. Her time of 13:15:27 was the fourth-fastest overall.

    Forty-two runners completed the race. For complete results, see Scoreboard on page 5.

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