by marlys good
The cabin located in the Ranger Creek summer home group was built in 1939 by the Foe Brothers. The shed mule deer antlers were “pounded” onto a head-shaped board and hung upside down on a wall adjacent to the fireplace circa the 1950s and have been hanging there since. The cabin has passed down through a lot of hands — from the first residents, Jim and Evelyn Beale, to Fred and Harriett Chamberlain, who sold it to Herschel Bird. It was eventually sold to John Gibler and through Gibler fell into the hands of Ed and Lee Gillis, then to the Gillises daughter, Nancy Gillis Graham and after Nancy passed away, it now belongs to Stan Graham.
The antlers were passed down right along with the cabin.
Graham said the story is that decades ago “someone picked one antler up one day, and found the other antler a few days later” — so they could be about 70 years old.
Down through the years dozens of people have passed through the cabin including the late Colonel Noyes, longtime game warden. Visitors thought the antlers were “pretty impressive,” many remarked that they were “upside down” and there is even a story of an intruder breaking into the cabin, stealing a rifle worth $50, but with no idea of what the sheds were, leaving them.
The cabin is a perfect summer getaway spot for Stan and Julia and on one trip Stan asked Julia, “What do you think we should do with them?”
“Take them to a taxidermist,” Julia replied.
They immediately thought of Ken Jeziorski, friend and owner of Black Hills Taxidermy located a couple miles west of Shell.
When Jeziorski saw the antlers, his first reaction was, “You don’t have any idea what you have here, do you?” Stan and Julia confessed they didn’t, but Jeziorski did.
“Every night Ken would carry the antlers home with him because he was worried (what could happen to them),” Julia laughs.
Graham’s son Rod took a picture of the newly-mounted antlers on his phone, and some days later showed them to Dave Moss.
When Moss contacted Graham to see if he could see the mount, and bring a Boone and Crocket scorer with him, he echoed Jeziorski. “You don’t know what you have, do you?”
So it was that Mike and Susan Barrett of Dayton, after a snowy treacherous ride over the Big Horns, joined Moss to view the mount and do the preliminary scoring. The two men received permission to “score” the shed and the preliminary scoring showed it was a world record set of antlers. However, to make the Boone and Crocket record book, the antlers had to be scored by a certified team.
The second scoring was done by Barrett and Art Hayes of Birney, Mont. at the Moss residence of Shell, where the horns had been guaranteed a safe shelter.
After calculating, recalculating, measuring, re-measuring and verifying measurements for over three hours, the final score was 323-3/8-inches. It was official. The right shed of the non-typical buck was No. 1 in the world shed (pair) record book and the left side shed was No. 2.
Were the antlers actually “real” or had they been cast? To answer this important question, the Mosses, with the Graham’s blessing, took the mounted head to the Greybull Animal Clinic where Dr. Allen Gottfredson took X-rays and verified they were the “real thing.”
Let the bidding begin! The Grahams by this time knew they had something unique and valuable (they received an early offer of $20,000). But they weren’t well enough informed to know how to handle the selling of the world-record shed. Dave and Charlotte Moss volunteered, not only to keep the mount at their home where it was under lock and key, but to handle the bidding war that they knew would come when the photos hit Facebook and were circulated by email.
A hectic week of emailing, telephone calls and the multiple bids and after a final frenzied morning, it was 10:10 a.m. Feb. 19, when the “upside down buck from the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming” became the property of Richard Dorchuck from Idaho.
Dorchuck will add the newly-acquired mount to those he plans to take on tour, and a story of the world-record mule deer will appear in an edition of “Muley Crazy Magazine.”
The Grahams laugh at all the activity, the excitement generated by a set of 70-year old mule deer antlers. And the Grahams get the last laugh. Thanks to Dorchuck, they’ll be getting a cast of the world record sheds (the only way you can tell they aren’t the real thing is by X-ray) to hang back on the wall, and the 70-year-old upside down buck is financing a new garage for the garage-less Grahams.
“It was interesting,” Stan said with a smile while Julia remains amazed at the total excitement over “an old pair of antlers.”