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While patrolling near the Iowa governor’s mansion, Terrace Hill, in the fall of 1998, Des Moines police officer Paul Little saw two incredible whitetail bucks. One of the amazing bucks carried a huge, 11-point rack. Its traveling mate sported an even larger, 20-point, non-typical rack. Little, a long time bow hunter and whitetail enthusiast, knew he was looking at two exceptional deer.
Over the next several weeks, Little was able to capture both bucks on videotape during his free time. Concerned about the potential for someone illegally taking the enormous bucks, he decided the best way to protect them was to make their existence public knowledge. By sharing the tapes with area bowhunters, it would be impossible for someone to poach the bucks and then claim they were taken legally somewhere else.
In January of 1999, Des Moines animal control received a call to remove a dead deer from a residential backyard. When they arrived to pick up the animal, they found it was a large buck that had already shed its antlers. The real surprise was when they looked in a nearby wooded ravine and spotted another buck with part of its rack sticking out of the snow. It turned out to be the 20-point non-typical that Officer Little had videotaped the previous fall. Some speculate that the shed-antlered buck may have been the huge 11-pointer frequently seen with the large non-typical.
Iowa DNR Conservation Officer, Craig Lonneman, closely inspected both deer. Neither had been shot nor did they show any of the symptoms of EHD, a disease which had hit the Iowa deer herd in the early fall of 1998. The cause of death remains a mystery. The non-typical rack is now in the possession of the Iowa DNR, so that outdoor enthusiasts are able to enjoy it.
Water Works Park on the Raccoon River is very close to the area where the deer were most often observed and was likely part of their home range. It is also the home to many other deer, so I chose to use it as the setting for Big City Bucks. Depending upon the location in Water Works, you can see local Des Moines landmarks, including Terrace Hill, Principal Financial at 801 Grand, the Ruan Center, Marriott Hotel, and the WHO and KCCI towers.
The non-typical rack netted 238 1/8 with 31 1/8 inches of non-typical points. Its 12-point typical frame grossed 213 6/8 and netted 206 7/8. In comparison, the Jordan buck, which was the world-record typical for almost a quarter-century, netted 206 1/8.