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Allegheny County buck could prove to be state’s largest ever taken

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Bof Frye | Trib Total Media
Jeff Lenzi, of Carroll Township, holds the rack from the giant whitetail he harvested earlier this fall in Allegheny County. The animal, which he said weighed 302 pounds and had a 27-inch neck, may wind up as the biggest typical deer ever taken in the state.

Jeff Lenzi admits he was shaking like he hadn’t in quite a few years.

The Carroll Township man was in his tree stand when a large buck — one the landowner nicknamed “Ghost” — walked out of the woods into a meadow. Lenzi looked, then looked again.

The deer was trotting, with its massive rack swaying. Lenzi remembers thinking he never had seen anything like that except on television.

“That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, boy.’ I started talking to myself, reminding myself to just calm down, to breathe,” Lenzi said.

The deer was a little more than 60 yards away. It seemed as if it were going to pass out of range, so he called on his grunt tube. That stopped the deer instantly.

Lenzi let a bolt fly from his crossbow and the deer went down.

When he found it dead 150 yards later, it was every bit as big as it had seemed.

“When I walked up to it, there was no ground shrinkage at all,” he said. “He was amazing. It’s just a beautiful deer.”

And likely a new state record.

Lenzi shot the deer — he won’t say where, beyond Allegheny County — on Oct. 10. He scored its typical rack himself, then had four official measurers from the Boone and Crockett Club and Safari Club International do the same.

They came up with the same figure: 194 78.

That’s not final. The rack must go through a 60-day drying period, then be scored again.

It’s not uncommon for green-scored deer to “shrink” a bit over that time, so its score could go down a bit, said Bob D’Angelo, big game records coordinator for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who will give the deer a final score in Harrisburg in early December.

But there’s no denying its potential, he added.

Pennsylvania’s record typical archery buck was killed in Allegheny County in 2004 by Michael Nicola Sr. of Waterford. It scored 1782/8.

The biggest typical to come out of the state, period, was taken with a firearm in 1943 by Fritz Janowsky in Bradford County. It scored 188.

Barring something unforeseen, Lenzi’s buck easily will set the archery mark, and it might top Janowsky’s buck, too, D’Angelo said.

“I haven’t seen the rack in person yet, and I don’t usually like to talk about scores based just on pictures, but it looks like it might score in the low 190s or at the very least the high 180s,” D’Angelo said. “If that score holds, and it looks like it will just from the photo, it’s probably got a good chance to be the new No. 1.”

That would put the buck high in Boone and Crockett’s all-time record book, too.

There were 8,824 typical whitetails listed going into this fall. The biggest is the famous Milo Hanson buck. Killed in Saskatchewan in 1993, it scored 213 58. Janowsky’s deer ranks 222nd.

If Lenzi’s deer scores between 190 and 194 78, that would rank it no lower than 164th all time and perhaps as high as 60th.

Its rack has 10 main points, all of them long and thick like hickory hammer handles, and a 19-inch spread. Even the brow tines are nearly 10 inches tall.

What really makes it special, though, is its mass, said Lenzi, a taxidermist who sees his share of big deer.

“The girth on this thing is just insane,” he said. “It’s just very unique, very heavy.”

Louis Cowger owns the Allegheny County property where Lenzi got his deer. It’s posted against trespassing, as are the other properties on three sides of it, and only a few people are allowed to hunt there.

That’s produced a lot of big bucks over the years, Cowger said.

“We’ve always had those kind of deer around. But come hunting season, we often don’t see them,” he said.

He’s glad Lenzi got “Ghost,” which gained its nickname for its whitish rack and ability to disappear. No one had seen it for weeks before Lenzi shot it.

“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you mad he shot that deer instead of you?’ But I’m not mad. I’m proud he got it off our land,” Cowger said.

For his part, Lenzi said he’d passed up a number of other legal bucks this fall, letting them walk because they weren’t anything he “wanted to end the season with.”

“Then this deer came out, and I wasn’t letting it go,” he said. “I knew he was big. But something like that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Article by Bob Frye,
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