Legendary Whitetails: The Iowa Knife-Handle Buck

iowa knife handle buckSome bucks and stories are legendary. This is one of them:

Back in the early 1970s out in Iowa, a man stopped and asked a farmer for permission to fish and trap turtles in his ponds. As they talked, the guy noticed a huge pile of sheds inside a nearby barn. The farmer told the man he could have them all, except for the one side of a gigantic rack with 8 long points. The farmer was saving that one for a friend who used deer tines to make knife handles.


At this point in the story, accounts vary. Some say the turtle trapper picked up both sides from the pile, and found them to be nearly identical. Others aren’t so sure the farmer had both sides of rack.

Years later, Tom Sexton, a taxidermist and sculptor, heard the turtle trapper’s tale and somehow ran across the unbelievably huge half rack. Tom decided to re-create the other side and the entire rack just so hunters could see how one Iowa giant might have been the world-record typical.

Tom had to make some suppositions, but his recreation shows that the rack, if somewhat symmetrical and typical, could have grossed more than 240 inches and, after even a good amount of deductions, net-scored a whopping 230 or so!

That buck lived 50 years ago and I wonder: How many hunters had seen him in the wild…how did the deer die…whatever became of the other side of that rack, probably just rotted away to dust in the woods? We’ll never know those things, but one thing I say with reasonable certainty: If that buck had had beams that matched anywhere close, and had a hunter killed him legally and ethically, he would have been the world-record typical whitetail forever. That legendary Iowa deer could have been a good 15 inches larger of rack than Milo’s 213 5/8″ giant, the current record typical that has stood for more than 20 years.

3 thoughts on “Legendary Whitetails: The Iowa Knife-Handle Buck

  1. Most hunters have not seen a 150″ whitetail less have laid eyes on a B&C minimum rack.

  2. Iowa is known for its symmetrical, clean typicals. Went to the Iowa Deer Classic in ’04 and left there speechless. The shed antler competition alone is reason enough to go, but when you see all those giants from the past (and also the ones killed in the state in more recent times)…good golly.

  3. Also, thought I’d add this little tidbit of info. When I was hunting there in 2005 I saw a mega-giant clean (no “junk” points), symmetrical typical ( I think it was a main-frame 6×6). It was easily a 180-class; but more than likely a 190-class typical; perhaps even pushing 200″ as a net typical. I was ready to move there at that point in time. It was shocking to see a buck of that caliber. It was after dark, but just knowing that a beast of that sort lived there was enough for me to possibly move there.

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