It doesn’t take much to get a Maine deer hunter thinking ahead to the feel of frosty mornings and the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.

Even in late August, a cool night and the feel of a north wind will do the trick. If November and trophy bucks are on your mind, you might want to get your hands on an annual publication put out by MASTC (Maine Antler & Skull Trophy Club). Called the 27th Annual Big Game Records Publication, the book contains dozens of photos of Maine hunters with their trophy bucks. Many of their hunting tales accompany the photos and antler statistics.

For the past 30 years or so this group has been collecting, scoring and recording photos and statistics of Maine’s largest and most impressive big game animals. Each year, MASTC celebrates the accomplishments of Maine’s trophy hunters by hosting a spring banquet. At this banquet, hundreds of trophy deer racks are on display for all to study and admire.

Scoring a trophy-buck antler is not as simple as you might think. MASTC has recruited and trained official scorers throughout the state, and their names are listed in the publication. To qualify for a listing with MASTC, a typical buck antler must score a minimum of 135 points. According to MASTC President Al Wentworth, from Dover-Foxcroft, the highest-scoring nontypical buck scored 262 points. It was a 10-pointer killed in Washington County in 1910. The record typical buck was an 8-9 pointer taken in St. Albans that scored 193 points.

As Wentworth explains it, a buck’s antler growth is determined by three factors – genes, nutrition and age. He says that most record-making bucks would not have grown impressive head gear without the right genes. Proper diet and maturity also play into the equation. A trophy deer’s antlers become the best they will be at about age 6. After that, old age and bad teeth reduce a deer’s nutritional intake, and thus its antler growth.

A trophy buck that caught my attention in the MASTC publication was the Alfred Wardwell buck that was shot in Oxbow Plantation on a cold November day in 1946. Mr.Wardwell’s deer-of-a-lifetime was bedded down not 500 yards from his hunting camp. The stuff of dreams.

You should see the antlers and the beam on this brute. It scored 208-plus as a non-typical. The buck mount was donated to MASTC by the hunter’s family and can be seen at MASTC’s annual banquet and at sportsman shows around the state.

All of the impressive bucks aren’t relegated to “the good ole days.” Big deer are still being taken. This year Clinton Bradbury of Dixfield registered a typical buck that scored an amazing 186.

I asked Wentworth if there was a geographical pattern to big buck kills – “From your 30 years of recording big buck statistics, is there one particular section of the state that grows big-buck antlers?” His answer: “The area between the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers, south of Greenville and north of Bangor.”

Along with trophy deer, MASTC also recognizes and maintains records of trophy moose, bear, and turkeys. This year, for the first time, three bear skulls were measured that were all more than 20 inches. A huge bull moose taken by Dale O’Leary of Mars Hill carried antlers that scored an incredible 212-6/8. So the good news, as we daydream about frosty mornings and cedar swamps, is that whether you plan to hunt moose, bear or deer in Maine, there are still some big animals out there.

To learn more about MASTC and its good work, call Al Wentworth at 564-7614 or check out the Web site at www.mastc.info.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]


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