The ultimate challenge in the Northeast is to shoot a buck weighing over 200 pounds with an antler score over 200 inches gross. Robert Cameron Jr. did just that last season. Here's his amazing story.
By Jeff Brown
The state of Maine has long been regarded as the best hunting destination for big-bodied, big-racked whitetails in the Northeast. If you want to shoot a "200/200" buck, that is, a buck with a field-dressed weight of 200 pounds and gross Boone and Crockett score of 200 or more, the Pine Tree State is your best bet.
With its rich hunting history, vast, untamed and unspoiled territory and a fantastic combination of genetics and habitat, Maine is certain to produce great whitetails year after year.
Last year, for example, Maine hunter Robert Cameron Jr. joined the 200/200 Club when he downed a massive 214-pound 20-point non-typical buck in Aroostook County during the rifle season.
THE HUNT The morning of Nov. 22, 2002 was perfect for hunting as far as Cameron was concerned. Five inches of fresh snow blanketed the north woods. Fresh snow is always a welcome sight to Maine's big-woods deer hunters. In fact, Cameron likens fresh snow to "forensic evidence" that helps him determine the whereabouts of the area's big bucks. On this particular morning, a fresh set of big tracks was all the evidence he would need.
Cameron had found a sizeable fresh track in the snow as he was scouting along an old logging road. He knew the deer had been spending time in this area and was not surprised to see these fresh tracks, in spite of the light, steady rain that was now falling.
He began following the tracks into an area that had been commercially thinned a few years ago. This area's young alder and fir saplings offered excellent habitat for deer. The rain and soft snow combined to create excellent still-hunting conditions.
Robert Cameron Jr.'s huge Aroostook County 20-point buck grossed 206 1/8 Boone and Crockett points and had an inside spread of 25 3/8 inches. Photo courtesy of Robert Cameron Jr
After an hour or so of quietly working his way through the clear-cut, Cameron finally caught a glimpse of a deer. It had jumped without warning from its bed only 100 yards away. The hunter caught a few glimpses of the right side of the deer and its rack as it worked its way through the slash, but now Cameron knew that he was on the trail of a mature buck.
With 40 years of deer hunting experience under his belt, Cameron quickly assessed the situation. The deer's body language told him that the buck was alert, but he did not snort or raise his "flag" as he trotted away.
Cameron decided against a quick running shot, and thought his best chance would be to stay put for a moment and let the situation unfold. He flipped open the covers of his rifle scope and cleaned the lenses. After about 60 seconds, he grabbed his grunt call and gave several short grunts.
Suddenly, the buck appeared in front of him - broadside! But, some trees blocked a clean shot. Like any smart, old buck, this bruiser didn't stand around long. Cameron thought that he would never see this buck again, but he wasn't quite ready to give up!
He grabbed his grunt call and called again, hoping that the big buck would give him one last look. Meanwhile, the buck had circled downwind from Cameron's position and appeared again, his head bent backwards as he sniffed the air trying to get a whiff of this mysterious "grunter." In so doing, the buck presented Cameron with the shot he had been waiting for! He raised his .270 as he simultaneously pivoted toward the buck. In an instant, he found the deer's chest in the cross hairs and squeezed the trigger. The big buck collapsed immediately as the bullet found its mark.
Cameron moved toward the deer and decided to put a second shot into the big buck, determined that this one was not going to get away! As Cameron walked up to the deer, he realized just how big this incredible buck was!
The body was big, but the rack was huge! This would certainly be the biggest racked buck he had ever killed. The rack was very wide (more than 25 inches), with long, heavy main beams and many points on both sides.
After getting the buck out of the woods, Cameron had him officially weighed in at 214 pounds (dressed weight). Once the 60-day waiting period was over, he had the buck scored and began to get local, regional and even some national attention for the buck! He entered the buck in the Maine Antler and Skull Trophy Club and the Northeast Big Buck Club, which scores and ranks bucks from the Northeast. Nationally, the buck also qualified for the Boone and Crockett club.
Cameron's incredible 20-point non-typical grossed 206 1/8 inches and netted 197 4/8 inches, which qualifies it for the B&C book. The rack consists of a 7x7 14-point typical frame that grosses an amazing 192 inches! The main beams are both in excess of 26 inches and there are three tines of 10 inches or more. The additional 14 1/8 inches of abnormal growth is made up of six points, four on the right and two on the left. The inside spread is phenomenal at 25 3/8 inches!
The mass on this thick, heavy rack is very "Maine," with several circumferences over 5 inches and great mass carried all the way out the beams. One of the other distinguishing features of this rack is the matching forked brow tines. This is an impressive rack from every perspective!
MORE BIG MAINE BUCKS More Boone and Crockett bucks have come from Maine than any other state in New England. And during the last five years (1998-2002), Maine has produced more Boone and Crockett bucks than any other state in New England. According to Jack Reneau, B&C records chairman, there have been 22 entries to B&C from the Pine Tree State during that five-year period. Fourteen of those entries were in the typical category, and eight were non-typical. Six of those entries scored 195 net B&C or more, ensuring Maine's reputation for big-racked, big-bodied bucks.
The Cameron buck does not challenge Maine's best non-typical of all time, an amazing 259-inch, 31-point buck taken in Washington County back in 1910. Maine's No. 1 typical entry is the 193 2/8 Cox buck from Aroostook County in 1965.
The Cameron buck is the largest buck registered from Maine's 2002 season, according to MASTC (Maine Antler and Skull Trophy Club), NBBC (Northeast Big Buck Club) and B&C (Boone and Crockett Club). According to the Northeast Big Buck Club records, this buck is also the largest taken in New England in 2002. Other 200-inch bucks (gross score) entered from New England include Whitey Sovinski's 204 1/8 typical 10-po
int from Massachusetts and Pete Kiendzior's 203 2/8 14-point non-typical, also from Massachusetts.
As usual, Maine produced several massive bucks in 2002. One of the most impressive is Bryan Rolerson Jr.'s 185 5/8 gross (170 2/8 net) 11-point typical taken in Waldo County. The Rolerson buck has six typical points in excess of 9 inches, making it one of the most impressive typical whitetails to ever come from this state.
Other bucks worthy of mention include Duane Walck's 184-inch 15-point non-typical from Aroostook County and 18-year-old Danielle Smith's 179 2/8 14-point non-typical from Somerset County.
Hunters who like to hear about bucks with massive bodies will be interested to know that there was a 325-pound (dressed weight) buck taken in Penobscot County in 2002. This is believed to be the state's biggest bodied buck of the year, and the rack wasn't bad either, scoring in the 180s as a non-typical!
There can be no doubt that Maine remains the best choice for pursuing big-racked, big-bodied whitetails in New England. While other states in New England continue to produce some outstanding racks, none can compare to Maine's perennial ability to produce bucks of the 200/200 caliber. The Cameron buck from 2002 is just another great example of that traditional Maine mystique!
For more information about Maine's great bucks and how they rank in the record book, contact the Maine Antler and Skull Trophy Club at (207) 727-3880. To read about all the great bucks from New England and New York, log on to the Northeast Big Buck Club's Web site at www.bigbuckclub.com or call (508) 752-8672.
For information on the Boone and Crockett's newest whitetail record book, published in 2003, visit the B&C Club Web site at www.boone-crockett.org or call (406) 542-1888.
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