In the late fall of 1989, Lionel Crissman and some friends were out rabbit hunting and at the same time scouting for good places to set up tree stands for bow hunting the Ohio season. They were working over a marshy area in Northeastern Ohio, near Youngstown. Being a seasoned bow hunter, Lionel was ever watchful of his surroundings. As he moved about the marsh, he noticed something white and looking very much out of place. Walking over to the spot he found the remains of a whitetail deer, nearly decomposed. There remained only slight traces of hair and hide, but the skeleton was intact. The skull carried a very unusual amount of antler, a small portion of it still covered with velvet. The antlers were not as we see them today, in fact at the time they were covered with dozens of spider webs, moss and dried leaves and grasses. They were unusual and they were antlers so Lionel picked up the skull only to find that it was still attached to the spine. He carefully separated the skull and backbone and had the foresight to also pick up the lower jaws.
Not knowing the value or significance of his find, Lionel placed the skull in the back of his truck and drove home. After a few days of cleaning the debris from the antlers, it became apparent to him that this was a truly incredible find. A great deal of care was used in the cleaning and each bit of debris removed seemed to reveal more points. When the job was truly done he had what we see in the accompanying photos. The rack was a typical eight point frame with very short but well defined brow tines. That, however was only the surface of it all. There were hundreds and hundreds of small points and protrusions everywhere and growing from every angle, perhaps too many to count.
Lionel contacted the local Game Warden to get a permit for possession of the antlers and this was done.
A few weeks later, Lionels brother Scott, convinced him that it would be good to take the rack to the nearby North Lima Deer Hunters Rendezvous. This event was held on the Sunday after the close of the six day Ohio gun season. It was essentially an event to show off the big racks taken during the previous season. There were always some very nice bucks displayed here. As soon as they entered the building, it became apparent that this rack was the center of attention. Cameras appeared out of nowhere and for the next several hours, hundreds of photos were taken.
As it happened a writer and photographer from North American Whitetail Magazine were attending the event and they immediately became enamored of this great rack. During discussions between them and Lionel, the photographer said it appeared as though it was covered with barnacles, and thus it became known as the Barnacle Buck.
These people and taxidermist Ron Riel, were instrumental in getting Lionel headed in the right direction to have it scored by Boone & Crockett Club (B&C) and a Buckeye Big Buck Club (BBBC) scorer. Mack McWilliams scored the antlers for the Buckeye Big Buck Club early in 1990. His score was so close to the most recent scoring effort by Buckmasters as to be phenomenal. Macks score came to 343*1/8 inches. (A note of interest was that Mr. McWilliams counted 134 irregular points, I counted 135 total.)
The rack was then shipped off to a B & C scorer named Bill Cooper in Atlanta, Ga. His scoring effort consumed most of a day (as did mine) and resulted in a score of 257*4/8, counting only 65 non-typical points (irregular).
The score remained in limbo for several months and finally B & C ruled not to certify the score and it became a moot point as to whether the rack would ever gain the recognition it deserved. Apparently, because of the B & C decision not to allow the score to stand, BBBC did not allow the score either. Therefore it is not listed in either records system. This is so sad as it is truly a magnificent set of antlers.
Ron Riel, the owner of Buckskin Taxidermy in Mount Vernon, Oh. contacted Lionel and offered to mount the antlers with a cape he had available. Ron did it as a competition mount and I must say that after eight years, the mount looks perfect. As an aside to this story, Ron Riel entered the mounted head in several competitions over the next months and garnered 1st Places in four events. These included 1st Place State of Ohio, 1st Place Best Game, 1st Place National Competition, and 1st Place in Northern Regional.
The lower jaws were examined by several different persons including a representative of the Ohio DNR and the belief is that the buck was between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years old. The buck had been dead for at least several months. There was very little if any rodent damage. Most of the deterioration I saw could be attributed to the fact that the skull was found laying solidly on the jaw bones and a drop point on each side was down into the soil of the marsh. Each of these points showed signs of degradation and antler loss. From the diameter of the remaining stubs, there could have been several inches of additional bone on these points.
After all the flurry of excitement, the Barnacle Buck fell into oblivion and has hung on the wall in his living room until Lionel heard of the Buckmasters Trophy Records. When Lionel found my phone number in a magazine, he gave me a call and the process began again. This time the score will hold and the Barnacle Buck shall once again become known to the world of whitetail aficionados as the new world record.
To view the official score sheet, click here.