Some deer are ghosts of the forest. That was the case with the Missouri Monarch. A legend that grew over 300 inches of antler in the wild.
The Missouri Monarch is the largest wild whitetail to ever walk the planet.
When it comes to the most legendary animals in the world of deer hunting, the Missouri Monarch stands out from the crowd. Sporting 44 scorable points going in every conceivable direction, this massive non-typical redefined what was possible with a wild whitetail buck thanks to a final net score of 333 7/8 inches.
Prior to the Monarch's discovery, most deer hunters assumed no deer would ever top the previous record, a 284 3/8-inch beast that still stands as the Texas state record despite having been harvested sometime in the late 1890s.
The most amazing part of the Monarch's story is this world-class trophy whitetail may have been running around at least partially on public land during the five short years it was alive. This is the story of how St. Louis County Missouri and one massive set of antlers changed the record books forever.
Like many big bucks, the Monarch was a ghost of the forest. As far as we know, there are zero confirmed sightings of this beast prior to him being found dead on November 15, 1981. The location was St. Louis County, Missouri just north of the main part of the city.
It was the second day of firearms deer season and hunter Dave Beckman had some success that morning. Although it was not the monster buck of this story. Beckman checked his kill in with local conservation officer Michael Hellend before going on his way. From there, Beckman was just driving along the road when he spotted what looked like antlers next to a fence along the roadside. Thanks to an old article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we now know the exact location was just off Strodtman Road. The deer was laying just across the street from what today serves as the entrance to the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
The buck was laying on private property of the local Pipefitters Union. Knowing he could not just trespass to pick up the big buck, Beckman went back and told Hellend about his discovery. From there, Hellend got permission to go retrieve the big buck. Hellend also skinned out the buck and gave it a thorough examination. The deer had only been dead a few days at this point. He found the big buck had scars from an injury that may have happened when the deer was younger. Biologists have since theorized it may have been attacked by a coyote.
The deer was also missing some of its teeth. The most fascinating aspect of this whitetail deer was that biologists estimated his age to be only 4.5 or 5.5 years old at most. This means the Monarch may have grown this massive rack before ever hitting his prime! The official cause of death was ruled as natural causes.
The unfortunate part of this story was that the deer's finder, Dave Beckman, did not get to take possession of the antlers. At that time, Missouri did not have salvage rules that would have legally allowed Beckman to take possession of the antlers. Hellend had no choice but to take them with him. The Missouri Department of Conservation immediately took possession of the rack, which they had mounted by a taxidermist. They are still the owners of the massive non-typical buck to this day.
Fortunately, the rules have changed since then. Still, Beckman, and many of his fellow hunters were rightfully upset when the MDC made a ton of money from selling artist's prints of the buck, and from the making of replicas. None of which was shared with the guy who found the animal. Last we heard the MDC did finally decide to recognize Beckman's discovery by giving him one of the replicas. It was just a shame it came more than 30 years after the fact.
The Scoring Controversy
Officially, Boone and Crockett Club recognizes this buck's antlers as the world record non-typical. That title did not come easily. Two years after the Monarch was found, noted antler collector Larry Huffman tracked down the famous, lost "Hole-in-the-Horn" buck from Ohio. Just like the Monarch, it too was found dead next to a fence. The only difference was the Hole-in-the-Horn had been found more than 40 years earlier and had spent most of that time in obscurity in a smoky bar. In the early 80s, all eyes in the whitetail world were on these two deer because most felt one or another would become the next world record buck.
Because the Monarch had been discovered during the middle of hunting season when things were hot during the rut, MDC officials did not do anything with it until the start of 1982. When Boone and Crockett measurer Dean Murphy finally put the tape to bone, he came up with a score of 325 7/8 inches.
However, shortly after the Ohio deer was unveiled to the world in early 1983, many scorers were estimating the Hole-in-the-Horn could net anywhere from 340 to 350 inches at the time. Because B&C's process of certifying world record deer works slowly, the Monarch was the first to be certified. It was finally officially panel scored at B&C's 18th Awards Program in the summer of 1983. To everyone's surprise, this final scoring session added inches, pushed the Monarch's score up to 333 7/8 inches. More than enough for it to ascend the throne as the largest deer ever.
Most hunters figured that title would be short-lived because in August of 1983, B&C chairman Phil Wright gave the Hole-in-the-Horn an entry score of 342 3/8 inches. According to Legendary Whitetails, there was a belief by Wright that a final panel scoring session may find the final score to be even higher thanks to some other abnormal points which were not counted in Wright's scoring session.
Three more years passed before the next B&C Awards program in 1986 and a final panel scoring by judges for the Hole-in-the-Horn. When the panel completed their work, the measurers determined the Ohio deer had a 4x4 typical frame as opposed to the 5x5 typical frame determined by Wright. As a result, the Hole-in-the-Horn's final score was tallied at 328 2/8 inches, just below the Monarch.
Today there are still hunters who still argue the Hole-in-the-Horn is the bigger of the two bucks and should have been crowned the new world record. However, B&C determined their ruling on the Ohio buck was final. The Hole-in-the-Horn buck officially took over the number two spot all time. The two bucks still sit in those same slots to this day. Make of that what you will.
Just how big is the Missouri Monarch? And why hasn't it been topped yet?
Scoring controversy aside, there is no denying the Missouri Monarch is a special deer. Especially when you start hearing some of the stats. This buck has an inside spread of 25 1/8 inches. The outside spread is a staggering 33 3/8 inches. The main beams were 24 1/8 and 23 3/8 inches respectively. The smallest mass measurements are well over five inches with mass measurements accounting for more than 40 inches in total. The abnormal points alone account for over 180 inches of this deer's final score!
Because the Monarch has so many drop tines and other non-typical points going everywhere, the antlers weigh a hefty 11.5 pounds! Just imagine what it was like for this buck to carry around such an incredible mass of bone on its head every day.
The most amazing thing about this deer is the fact that it is still the number one non-typical whitetail 40 years after it died. In truth, very few deer have gotten close enough to even be considered a threat. Only a handful of deer over the magical 300-inch mark have surfaced since then. And most of those deer fall far short of the mark, proving how rare a buck of this caliber is.
In fact, prior to the year 2000, no hunter had ever taken a buck that netted more than 300 inches non-typical. Mike Beatty's 39-point, 304 4/8-inch Ohio monster was the first to make that claim. The buck was the bowhunting world record for the next 18 years.
The next 300-incher fell to then 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen during the Iowa youth season in 2003. Lovstuen harvested the deer, known as "The Albia Buck," after the deer became the worst-kept secret in the deer world the year prior thanks to a story and photos in North American Whitetail magazine. Though this buck grossed nearly 322 inches, it netted 307 5/8 inches when it was finally panel scored. That was enough to make it the new world record for a deer killed by a hunter though. The Albia buck held that title until 2016 when Stephen Tucker of Tennessee downed a massive 47-pointer with his muzzleloader that ended up netting 312 3/8 inches.
Some probably figured it would be a while before we saw another whitetail of that caliber, but just three years later, Luke Brewster broke the Internet when he harvested a massive 38-point non-typical whitetail in Edgar County Illinois that ended up netting 320 5/8 inches, taking the archery crown away from the Beatty buck. The fact that the Brewster buck is the only one to come even remotely close in the last 40 years really speaks to just how large the Hole-in-the-Horn and Missouri Monarch bucks are.
There was one other buck that potentially could have taken the crown from the Missouri Monarch and that is the similarly named "Minnesota Monarch." This deer, which is known only from a few photographs and some shed antlers, was sighted repeatedly in the northern part of the state in the late 80s and early 90s.
In 1990, the buck's matched set of sheds were picked up and scored 310 inches on their own. North American Whitetail notes that adding an estimated inside spread of 23 3/8 gives the sheds a score of 334 inches. Just barely enough to edge out the Missouri buck. Of course, no record book will accept it because the exact spread measurement is unknown. The Minnesota Monarch eventually disappeared and never met up with a hunter leaving many to wonder what might have been. The fact this is the only deer to come close just speaks to how rare a non-typical like this is.
The rarity of a deer like this just makes the Missouri Monarch much more special. When a deer does come along to break that record, it will be a special occasion. Until then, the Missouri Monarch will remain the pinnacle of the whitetail deer hunting world.
Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.