412-Pound Deer

Photographs shows a 412-lb. deer killed in Nebraska.

Claim:   Photographs shows a 412-lb. deer killed in Nebraska.

Status:   Partly true.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

For all you deer hunters; How about this deer?

Could you imagine!

412 pound deer killed along Clarion River in North West Pennsylvania
Good GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is one big deer…
Deer was killed in Clarion County, Pa. , weighed 412 lbs. Supposedly could be the heaviest whitetail ever taken.

Origins:   Three common characteristics of just about every set of Internet-circulated photos purporting to document someone’s having killed a very large (if not the largest) example of a particular species are:

  • The photographs will circulate in multiple versions, each stating a different locale where the killing supposedly took place.
  • Viewers will debate the authenticity of the photographs, picking on small details such as shadowing, coloring, and proportion as evidence that the images have been digitally manipulated.
  • Hunters, wildlife experts, and others will maintain that the animal pictured is significantly smaller and/or lighter than claimed in the accompanying text.

All of these characteristics apply to the above-displayed photographs of a claimed 412-lb. white-tailed buck deer killed by a hunter. The earliest versions of these e-mailed pictures said the deer was taken in Nebraska, but later versions changed the site of the kill to “along Clarion River in North West Pennsylvania.” Internet pundits maintained that the images were faked because the deer’s coloration appeared inconsistent and/or its antlers looked too small. Media skeptics asserted that the deer was far smaller than claimed, as exemplified by this excerpt from a Utica Observer-Dispatch article:

Some readers have been kind enough to send me photos of the 412-pound buck from Nebraska that is making the rounds on the internet.

It’s a big deer, to be sure, but it is not 412 pounds or anywhere close. Camera angles and advantageous poses make the buck appear to be much larger than it is.
I contacted Kit Hams at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and he said their staff has seen this photo many times. Hams doubts its authenticity, for the same reasons I do. He said he was told the hunter was from Truman, Arkansas. The commission came up with a name, but was unable to identify that person as a permit holder in Nebraska. A guy kills the biggest, fattest whitetail almost anyone has ever heard of and his name isn’t plastered all over the country? Not very likely.

Hams said he believes the biggest deer he’s ever checked in his state weighed in about 250 pounds field dressed. That would be a shade over 300 on the hoof, and that is a very, very big deer.

And a Toledo Blade columnist suggested the photographs were outright fakes:

Call it a cabin-fever buck — the photographs of a supposed 412-pound white-tailed buck deer circulating among e-mails of late, that is.

The thing, in a classic bowhunting “success” pose with hunter and buddies, is so big that it pushes the envelope of credibility to the breaking point. It could simply be a dead-of-winter-and-there-ain’t-no-ice-fishin’ prank.

It could be the clever work of photo-doctoring, which is so easy to do these days, even on a PC at home. A copy will not be printed with this column simply because it could encourage too many viewers of the photo to jump to conclusions.

In January 2006, Dennis Anderson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a column expressing skepticism about these photos similar to that contained in the newspaper articles excerpted above. A few weeks later Anderson reported that he had been contacted by an
Arkansas resident named Stan Whitt, who said that he had killed the deer while bow hunting on a Nebraska Indian reservation in November 2005 (and that the deer was taken on an Indian reservation explained why Nebraska state wildlife officials were unaware of it). Whitt provided Anderson with all sorts of detail about where and how and he had killed the animal:

Whitt says he was hunting on the reservation last November with three friends from Arkansas. He says he and his friends hunt with bows only and

that he has hunted deer and other big game in about 20 states.

He shot the deer on a Saturday morning as it moved from water to a bedding area, Whitt said.

“I killed him at five paces,” he said, from a portable stand about 25 feet high in a tree.

Whitt said he had to hold his bowstring (he shoots a Mathews bow) back 10 minutes while the deer approached. He said he shot the deer virtually straight down, the shot striking behind the left shoulder and 3 inches from the spine. His arrow carried a 100-grain Simmons broadhead.

The animal disappeared in the far distance, Whitt said, losing the arrow as he ran.

Four hours later, Whitt began his search for the deer. He said he looked alone until dark without finding the animal.

The next morning one of his friends joined the search, as well as a reservation game warden and another man. Whitt said his friend found the deer in a draw or ravine about noon that day, a Sunday.

However, the true size of the deer is questionable and unconfirmable. Whitt admitted that the animal was “somewhat bloated” by the time they found it the following day, and that he did not actually have it weighed. Instead, he took the deer to the reservation wildlife office, where its live weight was estimated at 412 lbs. from a procedure that involved measuring its girth behind its front legs. Although the procedure used supposedly has only a 6% margin of error, the 412-lb. is nonetheless only an estimate, and
one possibly subject to inflation due to the “somewhat bloated” condition of the deer.

Last updated:   10 November 2006


  Sources Sources:

    Anderson, Dennis.   “Bigger or Byte-Sized?”

    [Minneapolis] Star Tribune.   22 January 2006   (p. C18).

    Anderson, Dennis.   “Claim Staked on Huge Deer That Caused Internet Stir.”

    [Minneapolis] Star Tribune.   11 February 2006   (p. C18).

    Pitarresi, John.   “Buck Unlikely to Be 412 Pounds.”

    [Utica] Observer-Dispatch.   29 January 2006.

    Pollick, Steve.   “Authorities Don’t Buy Photos of 400-Pound Deer.”

    The [Toledo] Blade.   31 January 2006.