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January 02, 2008

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BuckTracker: Would You Sell Your Rack?

The photo below has been zipping around the net the last few weeks. This buck, reportedly shot in Oklahoma by a 9-year old, is heavy on “Wow” factor. Tremendous mass and character, and of course it gets bonus/curiosity points for that wire (supposedly an electric-fence wire that once surrounded someone’s pea patch) tangled up in its antlers. Great buck and—assuming its true—a cool story.


But what really caught my attention was the last sentence of the email message, which states “supposedly Cabela’s has offered [the family] $150,000 for the deer.”

That single line tainted the whole story for me. For starters, six-figure bucks are as mythical as the griffin. World record deer (in some category) might coax a collector to part with that kind of coin, but most every other buck—no matter how impressive he looks—isn’t going to command six figures. More on that later. 

Second, though I certainly appreciate the appeal of getting rich doing nothing more than being lucky, I’d love to see the lottery-mentality stay out of deer hunting. Not long ago, shooting a behemoth deer was viewed as a fortuitous lightning strike, with no thought of reward beyond a great set of antlers to hang on the wall. These days, too many hunters think they’re looking at early retirement simply because a monstrous rutting whitetail stumbled past their tree stand. 

Here’s the reality. Though collectors have indeed written beefy checks to obtain some of whitetail hunting’s top deer, only a few world-beaters—the kind of bucks shot by James Jordan, Mel Johnson, John Breen, etal.—have commanded heady sums. In the world of antler collecting, inches (of antler score) influence dollars, and the difference between a rack worth 10 grand and one that might command half that amount can be 10” of B&C score. That’s one inch per tine on a 5X5. If you’ve deer hunted long enough, you’ll recognize what a thin line that represents.

Not long ago, North American Whitetail magazine published an article written by Les Davenport that covered the dollar value that might be assigned to a whitetail rack, assuming the hunter could find a collector willing to buy it.  Davenport’s article, which included input from top antler collectors and B&C scorers, was an eye-opener to me, and should be for other whitetail nuts…especially those fortunate enough to tag a monstrous deer.  Here are some highlights of the chart, which show B&C scores and their net worth:

Typical bucks
170” (B&C minimum): Zero-$1,000.
180”-184”: $4,000-$6,000
190”-194”: $8,000-$10,000
195”-199”: 10K-15K
200” and up: 20K-plus

195” (B&C minimum) Zero-$1,500
205”-214”: $2,500-$4,000
235”-244”: $10,000-$14,000
265”-274”: $25,000-$35,000
285” and up: $50,000-plus

These figures obviously pour icy water on the notion that the father of the 9-year old in this photo is contemplating a 150K offer from anyone. Also, informed sources tell me that places like Cabela’s and Bass Pro are simply not buying racks like they did a few years ago. And if you’ve visited one of the destination stores of either of these two companies, this fact is easy to accept. The number of jaw-dropper whitetails in these places is spectacular, which also led my source to tell me that unless a typical breaks the 200” mark or a non-typ goes over 260”, buyers from these two companies are unlikely to beat on your door. If you want proof of how rare such a buck is, check out the B&C books and see how many whitetails have broken these marks. 

Then there’s this: Many, many hunters who’ve sold a once-in-a-lifetime buck end up wishing they’d kept the rack. One friend, a noted B&C scorer from a Midwestern state noted for pumping out monster deer, told me that “of the 40 top bucks in our state (divided evenly between typical and non-typical bucks, killed by gun and bow), 20 of the hunters had sold their racks to a collector. Most regretted the decision.” 

So, Buck Tracker readers, it’s your time to weigh in on this topic. You spend a grand day in the timber, and a buck -- an animal literally hundreds of thousands of your comrades will never see -- wanders close enough for a shot. You score, and then you’re faced with a decision: Do I sell him for enough money to pay off a car, or put my kids through a year of college, or take a nice vacation with my wife? Or do I hang on to that rarest of pleasures; a world-class deer that I was fortunate enough to see, just once, in my too-brief time in the deer woods? It’s your call ... and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts!


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Of course, the right answer is "No. I'd never sell the rack of such a trophy." But that's easy to say unless you're actually confronted with the possibility of pocketing $20K on a some antlers. If it came to that, I might consider making a replica of the buck for my wall and selling the real thing. Also, what's a lot of money to one person may not be so much to someone else, depending on their circumstances. That would certainly come into play. If it would make a big difference to my family, I'd have to think about it. Consider: If you put $20K into a 529 college savings plan for 18 years, your kid's schooling would be largely paid for. That's a pretty big deal.

Jacob Randol

I would surely sell it.

The pictures and memories are better than the dang thing hanging on my wall. Plus, the money in the bank for my kids or toys for me to enjoy life a little more is worth more than the mount on my wall.


The antlers are just that...antlers! There is no taking away from the hunter the pleasure of having taken a buck of that caliber, nor will that buck suddenly have someone else's name on it. For example, the Jordan buck may not be owned by James Jordan, but it still carries his name and will be remembered as such. If the money really is needed I see no problem with giving up the antlers. Hey, at least you'll have a little extra room on the wall for the next one!


You want to pay $150,000 for my buck, SOLD!!!! Granted I will probably never shoot a buck that anyone would want to buy, but honestly if I were lucky enough and someone wanted to part with that much money they can have it. Imagine seeing a set of antlers on your wall and you knew you turned down $150,000 for them. Are they really worth that much to you??


I will keep mine!!
My home looks like a whitetail deer museum.(and some) The "real" question is what do I do with them when I die?? My family and friends could "win" the lottery come that time. Comments from all of you trophy hunters?



As much as I would love to hang a trophy buck on my wall, I have a trophy wife, (hey, we've been married almost 35 years and counting), well, you know the rest.


This is hornography gone wild.

If someone is willing to pay me $150,000 for a set of antlers, I say write the check and make me a replica of the mount. I'll have my pictures, my memories and a fat bank account.

Realistically no one is gonna give a rat's rump about your precious mount when you die anyway. It'll probably end up @ a VFW hall or in someone's basement being used a hat rack.


John Moore

I am with you on that point. I have been blessed to be offered 4800 acres of Kansas land to hunt that have all you could ever want in regards to great deer. I have had 100"-280" deer walk in those woods. Fortunately or unfortunately the larger end of the scale have been taken on the adjoining property one being the 276" taken in Morris County last year pictured on the cover of a North American Whitetail edition last year. I have taken a typical 172" Booner and just this past year a 160" Typical eight-pointer......but to part with either.....no thanks. I have been offered, I even had the Booner hanging in a Kansas City Restaurant and received calls from folks that wanted the deer....again, no thanks. Head-turning to the unlimited leaf-kicking squirls, turkeys, possums. foxes, bob-cats, coyotes, etc.....way too many memories to sell my "Hunting Soul". Grant-It....they are not 250-300+ giants, but I would have to still say "No Thanks"!!!


Well, I can say that I have been asked to have places like LLBean put my piebald on their wall but with no fee attached.They,and as I have been told by others, only want to "borrow" the mount for display so others can see it.We have a 150 class 8 pointer here and a few others that I wouldn't sell.For one ,it would break up my home decor,lol. And Pat? Does this mean your "trophy" wife doesn't like deer heads,fish mounts,etc up on the walls in your home? Guess my husband caught his trophy too(22 years and counting)BUT our whole house is a wildlife museum:-)

Mike O.

I would sell the deer for sure..but there would have to be certain stipulations that would accompany the sale. I would only sell the deer to a place like cabela's, bass pro or sportsman's warehouse- that way I can go see it at least, I would demand that they have my name under the mount identifying me as the person that killed the deer, and finally I would ask that they keep it local in my area, Reno has a cabela's and a sportsman's and we are rumored to be getting a bass pro this or next year. If they would do that for me, then I would sell it without thinking twice. Just think about how many jealous people would drool over your buck or bull when they saw it on display. I know I have gazed dreamily at the trophies at cabela's and wished I could say that I was lucky enough to have shot one of them. You can buy a lot of stuff with 10, 20 or especially 150k! After all they really are just antlers and the more people that are able to enjoy them, maybe the better.


Scott, yes, this email has made the rounds, but no one, even the State Wildlife Dept. knows exactly where it was taken, and the verbiage didn't accompany it with the emial that I got. If any ID can be put with it, then it is wanted for a story that would inform the other rack (deer) dreamers in this area. I agree with one of the bloggers in that I'd at least want a copy of it hanging but with that much money it sure would be tempting. I'd at least allow it to hang somewhere if I kept it that others could view it and 'dream' their own dreams as a page telling of the hunt would hang below it. It seems that you never get to know what led to the capture/kill so I'd like to tell the truth about it and then the tail would grow with time. Good story!


In my current financial state, I would be hard pressed to say "NO!", but as an everyday "Joe Blow", as Bill Engvall would say, "I don't think so Scooter!"
It's mine, I shot it, and I'm gonna keep it! For a small nominal fee, you can have the rack copied and hang that in you "store"!



If you sell it, you would miss out on some of the event and advertising income potential on a deer over 200 typical and 250 non typical. World record holder would be busy for quite a while.

All my mounts have a special meaning, they don't get sold, they may be duplicated if someone wanted to, but that would be the extent of it.


I have a real issue with this! This contributes to the poaching problem that all parts of the county has to deal with. Large sums of money for trophy class animals is no different than the illegal ivory trade or poaching tigers for their body parts. Way to many big bucks are poached each year, so why allow money to change hands for trophy animals?

Blue Ox

I'm really not sure what I'd say to an offer like that. I guess I'll cross that bridge when (if) I get to it.


Okay I found the "STORY" from the kids mother...maybe people can email her and find out the facts!

You can also email the state of Oklahoma.I have found out"facts" about other stories that have gone around the internet in other states and believe me,they have been more than willing to help:-)


Ya know Rod, I think you're on to something there. When big "bucks" bring out the "big" bucks, a fervor kicks in that brings about such unsavory behavior.
AMEN Rod!!!



OKAY....I found out the interesting side to the falsehood of this whole Cabela's offering this kid 150,000 for this rack.I got it from the mouth's of the CORPORATE office at Cabela's and this is what he said:

No Cabela's Inc has not offered any money to a boy in Oklahoma! Oklahoma has a state law that prohibits the sale of wildlife or there parts. It’s illegal for him to offer it or for anyone to offer money for it.

Mark Dowse
Taxidermy Product Manager
Cabela's Inc
Sidney Nebraska

How's that for FACTS guys????????:-D
I guess if any of us are planning on selling our racks,we best be checking if its illegal or not in the state we reside huh?

Ted Hess

Ugh...First things first...The kid is only 9 years old, have we forgotten? Ask the young man what he wants. It's his trophy!

Sure, the family might not have a lot of money to squander on a mount. So, maybe a donation to pay for the mount in exchange for some advertising (by the taxidermist) might be high on his list.

I'm just hoping the young man grows up to promote safe and ethical hunting. He has a good start towards a career if he so choses. Thanks to his father, for taking him hunting and allowing him to take the shot.

Congrat's buddy!


---Depends how much money i had, how much i was offered, and what my future plans in life were. If i was the kid i would sell the deer (+150,000), get a reproduction of the the antlers and a full body or head mount (-1,000-5,000), and save the rest for a car, college, and a house.

So in the end he has about $140,000 and a mount of the deer with fake antlers. He gets to remember everything has the body of the deer and has cash $$$$. Makes sense to me.


"Oklahoma has a state law that prohibits the sale of wildlife or there parts." Good job on the fact finding Wanda! Funny thing about that law, people still find a way to run "canned" hunts/shootings. There's a place just down the road from where I hunt that "sells" you a chance to shoot whatever you want, which is where all the pigs came from I would guess because they weren't here before they went into business.

As for selling the rack, not me, not unless it was enough for me to retire and live VERY comfortably.




Is that the place that bunch of dorks from "Hunt, Sleep, Fish" are always hunting and touting on TV?!

How far are you from the Waurika WMA?


NH Philosopher

I would absoF*@kinglutely sell it with a huge smile on my face for $150,000. Then - I would quit my job and hunt for a living. Selling racks from state to state, sucker to sucker. I would then - ultimately - raise bucks in captivity and harvest their racks on an annual or biannual basis (depending on the rack harvest reports). Soon enough - I could start breeding, with a full artificial insemination practice, and ultimately corner the rack market.


Thanks Mark..I thought I have been talking to walls BUT isn't that a man thing??? he he he;-)


ooooops..that was a typo!

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