May 30, 2018
By Lynn Burkhead
On a hunting saga that began four years ago, Arizona bowhunter Wesley Ely finally tagged a Coues' deer buck for the ages in 2017. The massive non-typical buck was just confirmed as tying the existing Pope and Young Club Coues deer world record mark at 139 2/8-inches net, a score confirmed by a group of judges at a special panel scoring session in Phoenix.
For most who love the world of sports, ties aren't something to be celebrated. While not technically a loss, neither are they a bona fide win either, leading to the oft used quote that "A tie is like kissing your sister."
Don't expect Wilcox, Ariz. bowhunter Wesley Ely to share that sentiment, however — not after results of a May 19, 2018 Pope and Young Club Special Panel scoring session were announced in Phoenix.
When the smoke cleared from that gathering of official measurers — a group of panel judges that included Marvin Zieser, Corky Richardson, Roy Grace, and P&Y big game records chairman Ed Fanchin — the result for Ely's huge 2017 Coues' deer non-typical buck was a bowhunting tie.
Specifically, Ely's buck — which when stripped of its covering of velvet measured out at 139 2/8-inches net — is tied with Terry L. Edwards' Coues' deer non-typical of the same score, another huge Arizona buck taken in Graham County back in 2015.
Until a bigger Coues' deer non-typical buck is taken and verified, the Ely buck and the Edwards buck will both share the top spot in the Pope and Young Club's Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America.
While ties are unusual, they aren't unprecedented in the outdoors world either. For example, the current largemouth bass world record has the International Game Fish Association's record book benchmark tied at 22-pounds, 4-ounces with both George Perry's 1932 Georgia bass and Manabu Kurita's 2009 bass from Japan's Lake Biwa in a numerical dead heat.
Speaking of heat, there is usually plenty of that for bowhunters in Arizona as they chase fall and early year Coues' deer in the arid desert mountains of the Grand Canyon State.
For Ely, the odyssey to a world record began several years ago when he first laid eyes on the giant buck of a species named after U.S. Army surgeon, historian, ornithologist, naturalist, and author Elliot Coues.
Even with the buck being a youngster, Ely knew then that the Coues' deer held enormous promise.
"It all began on a summer scouting trip in 2013 when I noticed a young buck with massive antlers," stated Wesley in a P&Y news release. "I continued to scout and occasionally hunt the area while the buck kept getting bigger each year.
"After an unsuccessful 2017 early hunt, I decided to devote all of my time-off to find the buck's summer habits," he continued. "16 days before opening day, I began to pattern this elusive animal. On opening day in the middle of public land, I couldn't help but hope that I was the only person chasing this big Coues' deer.
"I watched the buck through my binoculars for four hours that morning and waited until he bedded down for the day. After an hour hike into the canyon, I was looking at the biggest Coues' buck I had ever seen. In a stalk that seemed like an eternity, I crept and crawled closer to this small-bodied giant. I took my time, carefully applying all the things I had learned for years on how to make a successful stalk."
Eventually, Ely found himself at full draw on the velvet racked Coues' deer buck of his dreams.
"As I released the arrow, my heart filled with hope and anticipation!" he stated in the news release. "Shaking with excitement, I watched through binoculars as the buck, with a complete pass through, slowly disappeared over the hill. When I discovered the Coues' buck I had been hunting for four years lying motionless, I was in complete awe.
"I sat silently for a few minutes; admiring this intelligent animal and reflecting on what a humbling challenge it had been to take such an incredible buck."
On a broader scale outside of the bowhunting world, the Ely buck falls well short of the Boone and Crockett Club's all-time world record mark of 196 2/8-inches (a buck taken by an unidentified Native American hunter in Arizona in 1971). Even so, it lands in the B&C book's Coues' deer non-typical Top 25, a difficult to qualify for list that includes only four such bucks taken by hunters this century.
Arizona resident and Pope and Young Club big game records chairman Ed Fanchin knows just how difficult it is to take any Coues' deer with a bow, let alone one of the most impressive bucks of all-time.
"It was a pleasure to be part of the special process of recognizing a Pope and Young Club World Record," said Fanchin. "This was an unusual set of antlers that challenged the judges, who are some of the most experienced in the Club.
"This incredible animal is a testament to sound wildlife management across North America. Congratulations to Wes."
At the close of every P&Y Club biennial recording period, numerical awards and honorable mentions are awarded to the most outstanding bow-harvested animals in each species category that have been entered during the previous two-year recording cycle.
Tie or not, that will include Ely's massive Coues' deer non-typical, a new world's record benchmark specimen that will be on display next spring at the Pope and Young Club's 31st Biennial Convention in Omaha, Neb. from April 10-13, 2019.