New state record deer may have been shot in the Berkshires

The local hunting community is still abuzz with the news of a big 24 point buck being taken on opening day of shotgun deer hunting season by Craig Luscier of Dalton.   He bagged it here in the Berkshires.

 Luscier knew that there was a large buck where he was hunting for he had seen it on his trail camera several times.  “I knew he was very large”, said Luscier, “but I didn’t realize how many points it had.  The entire rack could not be seen in any of the pictures because it was too big to fit.” 

Late Monday afternoon, he was hunting in an undisclosed area with a primitive (muzzleloader) shotgun when he saw a 5 point buck.  He passed it up knowing full well that the large one was around there somewhere.  Sure enough, shortly afterwards, Luscier spotted him about 45 yards off.  He placed the scope on him and fired.  The smoke from the gun blocked his vision for a while and he didn’t know if he hit it, but he didn’t hear the buck run off.  When the smoke cleared, he saw it lying on the ground.  He nervously but quickly reloaded his gun for another shot in case it got up and tried to run off.  He didn’t need that second shot.

 The first call he made was to his lady friend Terri Barrett and then to his friend Doug Smith, both of Dalton, requesting a camera and help in dragging the deer out of the woods.  Both showed up on the scene shortly thereafter.   There were several broken off tines on that rack, so he must have been the dominant buck and had been busy fending off the smaller bucks while they were trying to steal his female friends. 

 Sorry, I can’t give a more specific location as to where he shot the deer.  If he told me, he would have to kill me (just kidding).  There most certainly are other deer running around that area with his genes and concerns exist that if the word got out, people from all over would come and shoot them all.

 The stars certainly lined up for Craig that day.  His son Forrest just started hunting and was supposed to hunt with him but he couldn’t make it.  If he had gone, Craig would have encouraged him to take the 5 pointer for his first deer.  That of course would have scared the big buck out of the area.  Another interesting point is that this was the first deer that Craig ever shot at with a gun.  He is normally a bow hunter and has taken several deer that way in the past.

 He checked the deer in at Smitty’s Sporting Goods Shop in Dalton Tuesday evening.  The stars lined up for me, too.  I just happen to be in the same building getting my deer processed by meat cutter Bob Dougherty when Craig brought his in.  Traffic literally stopped on Rte 9 when motorists saw it being carried in.  Over a dozen men, women and children congregated at the shop to see the deer which was lying in an ice fishing sled on the shop floor.

We all watched part-owner Doug Smith count the antler points.  They totaled 24 and there were 3 or 4 other large tines which had been broken off but could not be counted.  That deer must have had at least 27 points at one time.  There were several other points which were a hair too small to qualify.    The deer weighed 197 lbs dressed, the neck measured 29 inches and the beam width measured 27 inches.  Based upon the antlers, nearly everyone believed that they were looking at the new state record for a non-typical deer shot with a muzzleloader.   The deer could not be immediately aged because Craig wants to preserve the head for mounting. 

Craig will take the deer to New England Taxidermy in CT to be mounted.  After 6 months or so, after the antlers have properly dried, it will be officially scored by a Boone & Crockett scorer.   Don’t be surprised if it is a new state record.

Being in that sport shop that evening with people standing around the deer looking and taking pictures of it brought back memories of days long gone when these shops were the hub of activity for the sportsmen; where hunters congratulated one another on their successes and commiserated with them on their missed opportunities.    It was a setting fit for a Rockwell painting – the only thing missing was a pot belly stove.  Surely, it was a night that none of us will ever forget, and it is doubtful that we will ever see or touch a deer like that again in our lifetimes.

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