Evidence of Oklahoma’s bumper crop of big bucks was in no short supply at the Wildlife Department’s first March Rack Madness event March 6. Attendees presented more than two dozen deer antler sets (and one pronghorn) for certified measurers to examine and render an official number.
Ron Jones of Pryor holds the new Oklahoma Cy Curtis record mule deer rack, which scores 226 4/8. The rack crushed the previous record muley, which was harvested in 1973. (SKYLAR ST.YVES / ODWC)
The highlight of the event was a public scoring session of the potential record mule deer harvested this past season in Cimarron County by Ron Jones of Pryor. Observers ringed a table to watch during the hourlong process as a panel of Wildlife Department scorers carefully worked through the measurements.
“Ok, are you all ready for the news?” asked Wade Free, assistant director of operations for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
, as soon as the numbers had been double-checked. “Mr. Jones’ nontypical mule deer nets 226 and 4/8, which is the new state (Cy Curtis) record.”
Jones said he was ecstatic that his muley now tops the nontypical list of trophy mule deer in Oklahoma’s Cy Curtis Awards Program
, which recognizes hunters who harvest trophy game animals. His rack obliterated the previous No. 1 nontypical muley by 11 4/8 inches, a record held by Chris Hensley of Mooreland for a harvest he made 43 years ago!
As his muley was being scored, Jones was front and center, keeping watch over the process. “It’s pretty neat. I enjoyed seeing it scored. It’s a lot of work, and very precision work. They are always detailed in what they do.”
According to a scorers’ code of ethics, there should never be a fee for having a set of antlers scored by a certified scorer. That was something Daryl Osmus of Edmond discovered.
“I’ve never had one scored before, so I was interested to see how much it scored, and also how they did it.” He learned of the event because he subscribes to the Department’s electronic news release service, and he wasn’t disappointed showing up for March Rack Madness.
“It gets other hunters from all around together, just a time to exchange stories and see deer. And it kind of helps education on how to score deer. I think it’s an event that will just keep growing.”
Osmus’ Ellis County buck scored 140 0/8 as a typical, which allowed him to be added to the Cy Curtis record book. That is a first for him in more than 20 years of deer hunting.
“I’m encouraged by all the big deer that I see. And 20 years ago, you never saw deer like this, and now it’s common,” he said. “There’s 140-, 150-inch deer here. That’s pretty amazing to see.
“It says a lot for what’s happened to the deer herd over the last 20 years.”
Joe Terry of Norman took a Hughes County buck this past archery season, just his second buck to harvest in 10 years of deer hunting. A friend who gets the Department’s email news read about March Rack Madness “and he said, ‘You’d better get it up there and get it scored.’ It’s very professionally done.”
For his first time getting antlers scored, Terry’s typical whitetail rack netted 138 5/8, which edged him into both the Cy Curtis listings and Pope & Young registry. “It’s a pretty great feeling to shoot an archery deer and it’s one of Oklahoma’s top deer!”
March Rack Madness was timed to account for the required 60-day drying period before antlers can undergo official scoring. Deer harvested during this past gun season, muzzleloader season, youth deer season and all but the last several days of archery season were eligible for scoring at the event.
Named for the recognized pioneer of whitetail restoration in Oklahoma, the Cy Curtis Awards program began in 1972 to recognize trophy game hunters in Oklahoma who harvest big game that meets minimum qualifying scores. Cy Curtis Awards are offered for white-tailed and mule deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear.
Qualifying scores are 135 points for typical deer and 150 points for nontypical deer. For more information about how to apply for a Cy Curtis Award, go online towww.wildlifedepartment.com
and search for “Cy Curtis.”