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story.lead_photo.caption An African bull elephant, the largest game animal ever mounted by a taxidermist, greets visitors in the National Museum of Natural History rotunda.

Hunters and shooters love discussing superlatives. Everywhere we go — hunting camp, the local bar, our favorite restaurant, etc. — at some point, our conversations are likely to turn to the exceptional aspects of our favorite sports.

Should someone say something, for example, about the biggest this or the most expensive that, a heated discussion will almost certainly ensue. Differing opinions will add fuel to the fire, wagers will probably be laid, and after some burning debate, someone will whip out their smartphone and consult the internet to settle the dispute.

To stimulate such tasty dialogues, I present the following bits of trivia about game animals, hunters, shooters, guns, dogs and more. I’ve spent years compiling this delectable collection of incredible facts and hope the items included therein will surprise, bewilder, intrigue and entertain you as much as they have me.

Biggest Rack

On Nov. 7, 2016, Stephen Tucker, a 27-year-old Tennessee farmer, aimed his muzzleloader and killed a white-tailed deer with a 47-point rack. This deer’s nontypical antlers scored 312 3/8 nontypical Boone and Crockett points, making it the biggest rack on a whitetail ever killed by a hunter. The previous record, 307 5/8, was set in Iowa in 2003 by 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen, also with a muzzleloader.

The biggest rack ever measured was 333 7/8 on a deer in Missouri, but that was a pickup, or found deer, not one shot by a hunter.

The Record That Almost Wasn’t

Saskatchewan hunter Milo Hanson killed the world-record typical whitetail in 1993, a massive buck that scored 213 5/8 Boone and Crockett points. When Hanson shot the deer, the bullet passed through the animal’s body and struck the right antler. Had the bullet broken the antler, rather than just chipping it, the Milo Hanson buck would have fallen into the ranks of could-have-beens.

Heaviest Whitetails

The heaviest whitetail ever shot was killed by Ontario bow hunter John Annett in 1977. His enormous deer weighed 431 pounds on government-certified scales after being field-dressed. That would have given it an estimated live weight of more than 540 pounds. Most whitetail bucks weigh only one-fourth as much.

Second place belongs to Carl Lenander Jr., who killed a Minnesota buck in 1926 that weighed 402 pounds field-dressed. Conservation officials estimated its live weight at 511 pounds.

Biggest Black Bear

The biggest black bear ever killed and put on scales was a 10-year-old male shot in North Carolina in November 1998. It weighed an astonishing 880 pounds.

Heaviest Polar Bear

In 1960, an 11-foot, 1-inch-tall polar bear weighing 2,210 pounds was shot at Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. This is the largest bear of any species ever documented.

Longest Beard

An eastern wild turkey shot by Cody May in April 2007 near New Boston, Texas, set a world record for beard length. The gobbler’s beard stretched an amazing 22.5 inches.

Speediest Shooter

Montana’s Ed McGivern was shooting at South Dakota’s Lead Club Range on Aug. 20, 1932, when he set a speed-shooting record by firing a .45-caliber revolver five times from 15 feet into an area with a diameter of 1.1875 inches. He accomplished this in 45/100s of a second (including the time needed to draw the gun from his holster) and did it twice that day.

Marathon Shooting Record

In October 1959 at Reno, Nevada, Ohio native Tom Frye established a marathon and accuracy world record by hitting all but six of 100,000 hand-thrown wooden blocks with a .22 rifle. To establish this benchmark, Frye shot nine hours a day over a 13-day period.

Largest Revolver

One of the most fantastic firearms ever created is a working copy of a Remington 1859 revolver built by Poland’s Ryszard Tobys. Listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest revolver, this 99.2-pound, 4-foot-long gun holds six 1/4-pound bullets. In 2002, it was used in a shooting competition between NATO Reserve Forces from Great Britain, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. The Czechs won.

Largest Big-Game Animal Ever Mounted

On Nov. 13, 1955, in Angola, J.J. Fenykovi of Hungary shot what was then the largest land animal ever slain by a big-game hunter: a 12-ton bull African elephant. The kill required 16 bullets from a .416 Rigby. The 13-foot, 2-inch-tall elephant had tusks 7 feet long. The elephant was mounted for display in the rotunda of the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, where it remains today.

Longest Shot With a Hand-Held Bow

On Aug. 2, 1987, Don Brown established a world record by shooting an arrow with a 132-pound, hand-held recurve bow the record distance of 1,336 yards, 1 foot and 3 inches.

Farthest Traveling Arrow

Henry Drake of Lakeside, California, at Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, in October 1970, used a footbow to shoot an arrow a record distance of 1 mile, 101 yards and 21 inches.

Most Expensive Decoy

The highest price ever paid at auction for an American waterfowl decoy is $856,000 for a red-breasted merganser hen carved sometime in the 19th century by Lothrop Holmes of Kingston, Massachusetts. An unnamed person bought the rare decoy at a 2007 Christie’s auction in New York.

Top Grouse Hunter

In 19th-century England, hunters in large shooting parties often competed to see who could bag the most game birds. No one would condone such shooting excesses in this day and age, but some shooting records from the period are remarkable feats of endurance. Consider the single-day record of Thomas de Grey, the 6th Baron of Walsingham (1843-1919) who killed 1,070 grouse at Yorkshire’s Blubberhouse Moor on Aug. 30, 1888. To do it, he fired 1,510 cartridges during 20 drives and twice killed three birds in the air with just one shot.

Also Prolific

Another prolific hunter was Great Britain’s James Edward Harris (1798-1841), the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury, who kept detailed hunting diaries. During a lifetime of hunting, he killed 10,744 partridges, 7,417 rabbits, 8,862 pheasants, 5,211 hares, 4,694 snipe, 1,080 woodcocks, 145 rails, 50 quail, 8 geese, 6 golden plovers and 3 swans. Altogether, he hunted 3,645 days, walked 36,200 miles and fired more than 4 tons of shot.

Biggest Squirrel Dinner

In 1859, two parties of Arkansas hunters competed to see which could kill the most squirrels. During the five-week competition, they bagged 19,765 squirrels. The difference between the two parties was 1,134. Local citizens enjoyed a huge barbecue at which the squirrels were served.

Most Challenging Game bird

The honor of being our continent’s most difficult wing-shooting challenge probably belongs to the Himalayan snowcock, an Asian game bird introduced into a few mountainous areas in Nevada. These birds are hunted only at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet and only in the Silver State’s Elko County. Only 100 to 150 hunters pursue the snowcocks each year, and they harvest a total of only 20 to 30 birds.

Most Amazing Hound

At Southern Forest World museum in Waycross, Georgia, visitors can see Stuckie the mummified coon hound, who became wedged in a hollow tree while hunting in the 1960s. Stuckie was preserved by the tree’s resin and was found 20 years later by loggers clearing timber.


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