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The third and final print features bucks living in southern Iowa farm country, thus the title, Big Country Bucks.
This story began when a southern Iowa turkey hunter discovered a matching set of whitetail sheds in the spring of 2001. A picture of the sheds next showed up on the website for Soap Creek Outfitters. The photo was very impressive so arrangements were made to see the actual sheds.
Though the sheds look huge in the photo they are even more impressive in person. The moment Larry saw them it was obvious they are in a class of their own with character that goes way beyond their B & C score. First they have incredible mass that is carried throughout the rack. Even the individual tines are heavier that the bases on most antlers. The mass is so great that it makes it difficult to appreciate the length of the main beams and points. The sheds also have great character with lots of ridges, hooks and nontypical points. The antlers also have exceptional symmetry and overall ‘eye appeal’. Larry calls them “grinners,” meaning every time he holds them he can’t help but grin.
The sheds were scored at the 2002 Iowa Deer Classic as a basic 8 point, with the right antler measuring 82 2/8 inches and the left measuring 80 6/8 inches. The antlers have tremendous mass with five of the eight circumferences measuring 6 inches or greater. They also have 21 nontypical points totaling 86 2/8 inches, bringing the final nontypical net score, without spread, to 245 7/8 inches!
The following summer several people tried to get a closer look at the buck while in velvet. Amazingly, not only were they able to locate and observe the buck, but they also captured it with trail cameras and on video with its 2002 rack, which appears to be even larger than the previous year’s sheds.
Several hunters started making plans to hunt the huge buck. During the November rut the buck was rattled into close range by a bowhunter but it failed to present a clear shot. Rather than take a chance on a poor hit the bowhunter let it walk out of sight.
The buck was also seen and hit with a slug during shotgun season. Several people were following the blood trail that night but finally it gave out. As they continued to search for sign of the buck by flashlight they saw it get up and walk away.
Larry decided to use the shed antlers found in April 2001 as the rack for the buck in the painting, Big Country Bucks. For a setting he chose a typical southern Iowa scene, a picked bean field on a frosty, November morning. The buck is lifting his head to check a licking branch on a shingle oak. Several other bucks and a doe and her fawn are in the background.
(UPDATE) This buck was eventually taken by Tony Lovstuen on September 29, 2003 with a muzzleloader during Iowa's youth season. Larry featured it in a second painting called Foggy Morning Whitetail - The Lovstuen Buck.