Ed Daly's Connecticut muzzleloader buck currently ranks as the biggest whitetail taken by a hunter in New England last season.
Each season, thousands of hunters take to the New England woods in hopes of encountering their personal buck of a lifetime. For some, anything with antlers will do. But great bucks -- of the caliber of those in the Midwest or Canada -- can be found throughout New England.
Ed Daly's Tolland County trophy scored 184 5/8 gross Boone and Crockett
points as a non-typical.
Photo courtesy of Ed Daly.
Thanks to the efforts of organizations like the Northeast Big Buck Club, hunters around the region and throughout the U.S. have realized that every New England state has the potential for world-class bucks.
Over the last five years, According to the NBBC's records, the six states of Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire have produced more than 350 bucks with gross scores of 150 inches or better. Of those, 65 deer have scored more than 170 gross Boone and Crockett points.
The region's hunters did quite well in 2006, with New Hampshire producing the best buck. Shot by John Klucky, that massive typical 15-pointer grossed 199 5/8 B&C, with a net score of 185 2/8.
That year, Massachusetts produced two other 190-class bucks as well.
Did 2007 duplicate 2006's level of success?
Not quite. But in 2007, a small handful of hunters downed bucks that scored among the all-time best in their respective states.
WHICH BUCK WAS BEST?
Only one lucky hunter gets to claim having taken New England's biggest buck of 2007. For purposes of this article, 2007's biggest buck is the largest Boone and Crockett gross-scoring buck taken in New England during the archery, firearms, or muzzleloader season.
According to the NBBC -- and as of the date this article was written -- that honor belongs to Ed Daly of Tolland, Conn. In Tolland County, Daly downed a massive non-typical 12-point that scored over 180 inches!
That's a tremendous buck in any state, but encountering this buck in Connecticut surprised even this hunter!
THE DALY BUCK
If you're like me, you get tired of reading the same old big-buck stories in the national hunting magazines.
These days, it seems like every big buck harvested is the result of a multi-year strategy by some die-hard expert hunter who sacrifices everything to realize that dream. (Continued)
We all know that when it comes to hunting, "luck" is not a dirty word. The majority of big bucks are taken as the result of some form of pure luck, good or bad. Typically, the deer shows up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some fortunate hunter who's composed enough to close the deal winds up with the buck of a lifetime.
Ed Daly left work early on Dec. 14 and made one of those decisions we all make during hunting season. Given that he had only a short window of opportunity for his afternoon hunt, he chose a convenient place instead of his favorite spot.
He grabbed his muzzleloader and headed to a spot close to home where earlier in the season he had seen a few big fresh tracks.
There was a fresh cutting in the area, and new snow had fallen the day before, so it seemed like a reasonable spot to sit. By 2 p.m., having found a comfortable stump with a few tracks nearby, he decided to sit it out for the afternoon.
It would be a good choice, indeed!
Daly wasn't sure if he was daydreaming, or if he had actually dozed off for a few minutes. But suddenly, as if by magic, a big buck was standing 25 yards in front of him -- broadside! And the deer's rack was huge!
Just as the monster began to walk off, quartering away, Daly carefully raised his muzzleloader. He did his best to calm his heartbeat and gain some composure, and then squeezed the trigger. There was a great cloud of smoke, and then . . . nothing.
Daly didn't know if he had hit the big buck and was still in bewildered shock at what had just happened. He reloaded and then headed over to where the buck had been standing.
To his dismay, he found no blood and no hair. He followed the tracks for quite some distance in the fresh snow, and finally saw blood. His spirits lifted. But because it was getting late, and because he was unsure of the shot, he headed home to let the buck lay overnight.
As you might imagine, Daly suffered through a sleepless night, still wondering if the buck was really as big as he remembered. The next morning, he and a friend picked up the trail. It didn't take them long to find the buck, but Daly noticed that the buck's eyes were closed. Sure enough, the deer was still alive!
The great animal struggled to its feet, but Daly was ready and finished him off with a final shot. The massive buck piled up, and forget about "ground shrink" -- he was every bit as big as Daly remembered him to be!
Daly now realizes just how lucky he was to have come face to face with such a big buck, so late in the season.
SCORE & RANK
Daly later took the buck to Trappers Den Taxidermy, where Joe Firetto immediately told him he had to have it scored by Carl Lieser, the Connecticut Regional Director for the Northeast Big Buck Club. An experienced scorer, Carl also scores for B&C, Pope and Young and other clubs, so Daley knew he had the right guy to measure his huge non-typical.
As a 12-point non-typical, Daly's buck scores 184 5/8 gross B&C points and 171 4/8 net. The wide rack, with an inside spread of over 19 inches, sports nine typical points and three abnormal points. The typical frame grosses just over 170 inches -- massive for a nine-pointer.
The main beams are both 26 5/8 inches long, and the longest typical points are 12 5/8 (left G-2) and 10 inches (both the left and right G-3s).
The buck has excellent mass, with bases of 5 3/8 and 5 4/8 inches, and total mass measurements of over 40 inches!
Its three non-typical points are all on the left side, with a large 9 6/8-inch point and two smaller stickers.
According to the Northeast Big Buck Club, Daly's buck is the largest gross-scoring buck e
ntered in the NBBC's records from New England in 2007. This article was written in March 2008, so it's possible that a larger buck from 2007 could be entered prior to the close of the scoring period in May 2008. But as of this moment, Daly's is set to be honored as New England's best from 2007.
Larger gross-scoring bucks were taken in New York and Pennsylvania in 2007, but Daly's was the best from the six New England states.
The buck also ranks No. 2 all-time for muzzleloader non-typicals from Connecticut -- behind Henry Konow Jr.'s amazing 206 3/8-inch 19-pointer taken in New London County in 2000. Daly's also ranks No. 12 All-Time for Connecticut bucks harvested by a hunter with any weapon.
We all know that when it comes to hunting, "luck" is not a dirty word. The majority of big bucks are taken as the result of some form of pure luck, good or bad.
In the past five years, 2003-07, only one other buck has been harvested with a larger gross score than the Daly buck. That was Jack Sullivan's 2004 New London County 16-pointer that gross-scores 185 4/8.
So Ed "Lucky" Daly should be very proud of his great buck from the Constitution State!
MORE GREAT BUCKS FROM 2007
2007 was a fantastic year in New England. Massive bucks fell throughout the region, with more than 30 breaking the 150-inch mark.
Connecticut led the way with Daly's buck, plus several other great bucks -- including Mark Page's 178 3/8-inch New Haven County 13-pointer taken during gun season, Reinhart Hermann's 163 1/8-inch 14-point muzzleloader non-typical from Hartford County and Bob Robbins' 162 4/8-inch 11-point gun buck from Tolland County.
Massachusetts hunters took at least two 170-class archery bucks last year. And Maine muzzleloaders downed several impressive bucks, including a 170-class typical. Bucks that were 160-class or better fell in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Only Vermont failed to produce a buck of that caliber.
Challenging weather conditions in 2007 seemed to dampen harvest totals for many states' archery and gun seasons. But the region came on strong! The NBBC has scored many huge muzzleloader bucks and later archery-season bucks. Muzzleloader hunters had a particularly great season, as evidenced by Daly's massive buck.
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club, visit their Web site at www.bigbuckclub.com, or you can call the NBBC at (508) 752-8762 for more information.