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The #3 Buck of the Year taken by muzzleloader

Dan Duffell, 66, took the #3 typical killed in Florida last season with his 18-year-old CVA .50 caliber muzzleloader on October 24, 2011 while hunting just outside of Jasper in Hamilton County.

Dan’s buck actually tied for the #2 spot in the “Buck of the Year” contest with a net score of 146-3/8 inches, but was edged out because his heavy-racked 10-point had a lower gross (149-1/8 inches) than Bubba Taylor’s 14-point (157-7/8 inches).

The almost perfectly symmetrical rack had just 2-6/8 inches in deductions for differences between the two sides. Dan estimated that the buck weighed 225 pounds after the processor’s scale bottomed out at 200 pounds while the buck’s head was still on the ground.

“My friends and I have been hunting on privately-owned, leased land in Hamilton County for 18 years, but we have only been on this 600-acre lease for four years and have taken several 7-points and 8-points.

“The day I shot this 10-point, I was hunting from a climber on the edge of a 15-yard-wide dirt trail on the property with heavy woods on both sides. While hunting the same stand the previous day at 10:15 a.m., I had been looking the other direction, and when I looked back, all I saw was the back side of a large deer disappearing into the woods,” Dan said.

“All I saw was his hindquarters, and it looked more like a cow than a deer. Back at camp, my version to my hunting buddy Chester was that I saw a nice 10-point or better, based on the size of his rear end, but I never saw the rack. That didn’t do much for my credibility.

“The following morning at 10 a.m. I was looking the right way just as he walked quickly out to cross the same trail, so I had to take a quick shot because of the narrow opening,” Dan said.

“It’s ironic I got him at exactly the same time I saw a big deer 24 hours before, and he really was a 10-point. “It doesn’t mean this was the same deer I saw the day before, but it is likely,” he added. “Credibility was restored!” Dan’s buck has an interesting rack.

“It is heavy and very symmetrical. I think the symmetry is why it scored so well. But the spread is only 14-7/8 inches. It is a really narrow rack,” he added. “I was considering upgrading my older model CVA, but now I am having second thoughts,” he said.

But, Dan has an even bigger dilemma. “My wife, Margie, says no more deer on the wall!” he joked.