The story of the majestic new world record archery velvet mule deer, crowned on Saturday, May 14, 2022, actually began 10 years ago, in Kane County, Utah. Although hunter Bowdy Gardner had no way of knowing that he had just felled a future world record that day in 2012, he knew that he had arrowed a very special animal. After the tag, Gardner submitted his prize to be measured and considered for Pope & Young's Records Program ... and immediately ran into a technicality.
You see, Pope & Young is North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organization. The group promotes the principles of fair chase in the world of archery hunting, and maintains world records of fair-chase trophies. The trouble was that, at the time, P&Y didn't have a category for what is known as "velvet bucks." A buck "in velvet" is an animal whose antlers have not completed the final stage of maturation—although the antlers are fully grown, they are still encased in a soft skin that the animal will shed and rub off later. Bowdy's buck was in velvet, so despite its truly massive size, it remained waiting in the wings for the next 10 years.
Then, Pope and Young changed their policy in 2021. The organization simply instituted a new category for velvet antlered species to be eligible for World’s Record status. As such, nearly ten (10) years later, this monster buck is now crowned as the new velvet World’s Record. It scored an incredible 218 2/8” and is now the largest bow-harvested Typical Velvet Mule Deer in North America.
“This is a tremendous mule deer that has been awaiting this moment since it was taken in Kane County, Utah in 2012. When Pope and Young changed their stance in 2021 and allowed velvet antlered animals to be eligible for world record status within their own respective categories, we were finally able to authenticate this buck,” stated Roy Grace, Pope and Young Club’s Records Chairman. “It also demonstrates how sportsmen’s dollars, coupled with oversight from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, can properly manage these incredible animals and provide opportunity for sportsmen to pursue them.”
Scoring trophies is more complex than you might think. Here's a guide for how to do it for whitetail deer; you'll notice that the antlers are completely free of velvet in the illustration. Pope & Young publishes its score sheets for each species they keep records for, and the organization does reconsider its policies from time to time. This policy change results in new ways for hunters to participate in fair-chase archery hunting ... and that's always a plus.