February 28, 2017
With the conclusion of 2016-17 deer hunting seasons across the country, the attention of most of the whitetail hunting world has been on the state of Tennessee.
And for good reason, mind you, since Volunteer State hunter Stephen Tucker took a massive non-typical whitetail during the 2016 muzzleloader season in the state, a buck confirmed to score 312 0/8 inches by the Boone and Crockett Club.
As the third highest scoring buck of all-time – and the highest scoring hunter-taken buck ever – the Tucker Buck is certainly worthy of a few headlines.
But lost in the shuffle of those news stories is the fact the Sooner State of Oklahoma had its own fine deer season with not one, but two massive non-typical bucks rewriting the state's record book.
In thunder-and-lightning fashion, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Cy Curtis Awards program benchmark for non-typical archery deer was beaten twice in a matter of days.
Initially, it appeared as if a non-typical whitetail from Comanche County, Oklahoma, would be the new Cy Curtis state archery record.
That's because of a giant bow buck taken by Lawton archer Jeff Ocker on November 12, 2016, as the U.S. Army sergeant bowhunted ground open to hunting at Ft. Sill in the southwestern part of the state.
When the mandatory 60-day drying period passed (as required by the B&C Club), the massive buck, which has 19 by 9 points on a 5-by-5 main frame, was given a net score of 245 2/8 inches by ODWC scorers.
Lawton, Okla., resident Travis Ocker (above) shows off the huge non-typical archery buck he took in November 2016 while hunting in Comanche County. The bow buck has a net score of 245 2/8 inches, narrowly missing the top spot in the Sooner State's Cy Curtis Awards program bowhunting records. (Photo courtesy of ODWC and George Moore)
But unfortunately for Ocker, his giant whitetail was only briefly the new archery benchmark among Oklahoma's non-typical deer.
That's because there was an even bigger non-typical whitetail buck yet to be scored, a buck in Cleveland County by archer Jeffrey Parker of Moore, Okla.
That huge non-typical, featuring 16 by 21 points on a 4-by-4 main frame, was net scored by ODWC officials at 245 5/8 inches.
Such numbers add up to make the Parker buck the highest scoring archery buck ever reported to Oklahoma's statewide scoring system ... just barely.
According to an ODWC news release, when Parker took his massive bow buck on November 10, 2016, he originally thought the deer might have a chance to claim the top archery white-tailed deer spot in the Cy Curtis Awards program.
He thought so because the archery record, at the time, was 232 4/8 inches. That deer, taken back on October 10, 2000, was a 19-point buck tagged in Pushmataha County by bowhunter Brett Brame.
By the middle of January, various news reports began to surface around the Sooner State indicating Ocker had laid claim to the Sooner State's archery record with his massive 245 2/8 inch buck from Comanche County.
According to ODWC's news release, Parker heard the news and didn't think his buck would be anywhere near that score. So he resigned himself to the idea his 2016 buck would be a near miss for the state's top Cy Curtis bowhunting spot.
But when Parker actually submitted his deer to ODWC officials to be scored, he almost couldn't believe the news that eventually came his way.
The news was his Cleveland County buck was actually the new benchmark among Oklahoma non-typical bow harvests, by only 3/8 of an inch.
"I really thought he (the scorer) was messing with me," said Parker.
Instead, it was Parker messing with the Oklahoma archery record book, taking a deer that as of the time of this writing is the state's largest non-typical whitetail ever taken with a bow.
In addition to the honor, the Parker buck also is the number two all-time whitetail ever entered into the ODWC's Cy Curtis Awards program, regardless of harvest method.
It falls behind only Michael Crossland's giant Tillman County buck taken in 2004, a huge non-typical rifle harvest with a net Cy Curtis score of 248 6/8 inches.
Incidentally, Parker's huge 2016 bow buck actually ranks third in the state's all-time whitetail records. That's because it falls behind the Crossland giant and the number two buck taken in nearby Johnston County back in 1970.
That huge 30-point from Johnston County was taken by Bill Foster two years before the Cy Curtis program actually came into being. Scored by the B&C Club, the Foster buck has a net score of 247 2/8 inches, a mark that still ranks #104 in the all-time B&C listings for North America.
For Parker's part, he indicates that taking a state record trophy white-tailed buck really wasn't in his thoughts when he went hunting on that fateful day.
"I’m not a trophy hunter," he said in the ODWC news release. "I eat venison, and so does my family, all year, until we run out."
That doesn't mean he isn't interested in big deer, however.
"I hunted a lot of public land," said Parker. "People out there, anything that moves they shoot.
"But (ODWC has) been posting so many things making everybody aware of the benefit of trophy hunting, that’s what I do on my small area," he added. "We let the young bucks grow, and if it’s not a 4 ½-year-old deer, we don’t take it.
"I think it’s awesome because then you get a bigger deer … and more publicity, which is growing more people toward the sport, and you also get a deer with a lot more meat on it."
And a whole lot more headbone too, the most ever tallied by an Oklahoma bowhunter.
For another few days, at least. Because after the kind of deer hunting season Oklahoma enjoyed in 2016-17, who knows what else may be waiting in the wings for the Sooner State?