Mark Thomas did the impossible by arrowing two state-record bucks in the same county! Here's his amazing story.
In 2004, Mark Thomas did something most Bay State archers only dream about: He arrowed a 10-point typical in Norfolk County that gross-scored 175 6/8 Pope and Young points -- establishing a new Massachusetts state record for archery typical bucks. He held that record until 2006, when a hunter from Worcester County arrowed a massive 180-class buck that pushed Thomas' great buck down to a respectable No. 2.
Mark Thomas' incredible non-typical Bay State bruiser was the biggest buck taken in New England last season.
Photo courtesy of Mark Thomas.
However, Thomas cares little for what other people think. He just loves to hunt big bucks. His passion produced yet another great buck that fell on Oct. 31, 2007: the state's new non-typical archery record!
THE THOMAS BUCK
At 444 square miles, Norfolk County in eastern Massachusetts is one of the smaller counties in the state. It lies south of Boston and runs down to the corners of Rhode Island and Connecticut.
In other words, Thomas was hunting in a suburban area with a population of 650,000 people, or more than 1,600 humans per square mile!
Not exactly what you might consider ideal whitetail habitat.
However, experienced New England bowhunters know that deer densities are higher in suburban counties. And hunting pressure is often very light, translating to great trophy-hunting opportunities for bowhunters who can gain access to small pockets of cover. In fact, small Norfolk County has produced more than 50 bucks that make the Northeast Big Bucks Club record book, including the state's largest gross-scoring buck, a giant 210-inch non-typical found dead off Route 128, one of the state's busiest highways.
That buck currently ranks as the state's No. 1 non-typical of all time.
Thomas has been hunting this area for many years. A bowhunter primarily, he has killed many great bucks in this county, including that big former state-record buck. In late October 2007, he found himself on familiar ground; he had been hunting on it for several years.
In 2006 his trail camera produced several photos of a great drop-tine buck. Thomas hunted the buck hard that year. One rainy day, he had a close encounter, but thought better of trying a shot. He became obsessed with the monster whitetail and hunted the buck hard the rest of 2006. But the season closed without his sighting the buck again.
Later, Thomas found the buck's right shed. He continued to follow the buck through the summer, capturing 10 trail camera photos of the deer.
Thomas was thoroughly psyched for the beginning of the 2007 season.
HIS HUNT BEGINS
Last year, Halloween morning was very cold, although the forecast called for the temperature to rise quickly during the day.
Thomas was in a tree stand about 200 yards from where he had seen the great buck in 2006, and he rattled and grunted as the morning temperature rose. At about 8:45 a.m., just as Thomas was getting ready to quit the spot, he heard a deer walking in the distance.
Scanning the pines 100 yards from his stand, he caught sight of a single tine from the rack -- and instantly he knew it was "his" buck.
The deer walked out of the pines spoiling for a fight, and immediately spotted the hunter in his stand.
The hunter froze, and the two had a standoff that lasted for about a minute -- which for Thomas seemed like an hour!
Finally the buck flicked his tail, demonstrating that he was relaxed, and started walking. At 37 yards, the deer turned broadside. Thomas drew his bow and let the arrow fly! The arrow struck the buck high, and the deer bolted out of sight.
Thomas was juiced with adrenaline, but his experience with big bucks taught him to wait three or four hours before starting to track this one. While he waited, he called his friend, Matt Grady, and also called his father.
When the wait was over, the trio tracked the buck for about 150 yards and soon found the monster that Thomas had hunted so hard for the past two years.
After dragging the buck out, they took it to a check station and weighed him at just over 200 pounds dressed.
They headed back to the house and Thomas began calling his hunting buddies, who knew how obsessed he was with this deer. They all got together at Thomas' house to celebrate.
T.J. Mello, a friend and scorer for the Northeast Big Buck Club, was in attendance. He green-scored the buck and informed Thomas that there was a chance that his deer could possibly be the state-record buck.
Later, Mello organized an official panel-scoring session with other NBBC scorers. And their results supported T.J.'s hunch!
ONE BIG BUCK!
When the Thomas buck was officially panel-scored, it would need to beat 178 gross with a net score of 166 7/8 non-typical. Mello had been conservative in his treatment of several abnormal points and felt that during the panel, the buck had a good chance of scoring better.
Again he was correct -- the buck scored a whopping 179 gross Boone and Crockett points, besting the current record by an inch!
The Thomas buck is impressive in many ways. It is a massive 9-point typical with five additional abnormal points, including a large group of points at the base of the left beam.
There was no sign of the big drop tine the buck had sported in 2006, although it was plenty impressive without it!
The beams are relatively short at 23 7/8 and 21 3/8 inches, but they form an awe-inspiring inside spread of 26 6/8 inches. The buck has great mass, with bases of 5 2/8 and 7 7/8 inches on the left side, where the large mass of abnormal points comes together. The final gross score of this amazing rack is 179 0/8, but it nets 165 5/8 as a non-typical because of the significant deductions.
With this deer, Thomas now owns the No. 1 archery non-typical spot as well as the No. 2 archery typical slot.
His accomplishment is mind-boggling, but not unprecedented in Massachusetts.
THE BAY STATE'S BEST BOW BUCKS
The Thomas Buck is just one of several outstanding archery bucks taken in this state in 2007.
In a previous issue of New England Game & Fish, we brought you the story of Fred Cristina's outstanding 172 6/8 Plymouth County 10-pointer -- the best Bay State archery typical buck taken in 2007.
Many other great bucks were arrowed throughout the state this past season. Bucks scoring 150 inches or better were taken in many counties including Hampden, Norfolk, Plymouth, Worcester, Middlesex and Berkshire. That covers nearly the entire state!
In Middlesex County, Jim Kelly shot a monster typical 10-pointer that gross-scored 164 5/8 P&Y points.
Kelly's buck had a 20 1/8-inch inside spread and bases of 5 inches each.
In Berkshire County in the western part of the state, Justin Davis shot an enormous 8-pointer with a gross score of 157 7/8 inches.
Davis's 8-pointer had main beams of over 25 inches each and an inside spread of just under 19 inches.
All told, Bay State bowhunters took three bucks that rank in the all-time top 20 -- and two hunters (Cristina and Thomas) rank in the all-time top seven.
Shooting one buck that makes the all-time top 10 in any state is quite an accomplishment! Just imagine shooting two bucks that rank at the top of the list in the archery typical and non-typical categories.
This astronomically improbable accomplishment isn't the first time this has happened. In 2006, in the same season, Massachusetts hunter Bill Tatro took the No. 1 muzzleloader non-typical and the No. 5 muzzleloader typical! He also held the state record for shotgun typical deer, with a buck that now ranks No. 2 in that category.
For more information, visit the Club at www.bigbuckclub.com.
Check out the photo gallery for many of the largest bucks taken throughout the Northeast in 2007. Last year, the NBBC published its fifth record book in 2007, detailing more than 5,000 of the Northeast's best bucks of all time!
For more information, interested hunters may write to Brown at NBBC, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612. Or call him at (508) 752-8762, or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.