A Facebook user who might have unearthed the biggest scandal in deer hunting history said today that 30 years of antler collecting help him develop a memory for unique racks.
That uncanny memory is being linked to him possibly connecting another antler collector’s rack to a very similar one on a deer that celebrity bowhunter Marc Anthony claimed to have killed.
BY KERI BUTT
Dan Cole of Fargo, North Dakota, pointed out the nearly identical similarities on May 1 — just a few days after seeing a photo of the Marc Anthony deer on another Facebook page.
Cole, who is a longtime antler collector, said the scenario played out when one of his friends saw a photo on a Facebook page. Cole said his friend thought the photo of the dead buck “looked weird,” so he sent it to him. Anthony claimed to have killed the buck in Illinois in 2010.
Anthony made a name for himself in the hunting community through claims that he is the only man in North America to have killed five white-tailed bucks with racks that net more than the minimum score required for entry into the Boone and Crockett Records program. Anthony further claimed to have killed more than 90 percent of his deer while hunting off the ground while wearing a ghillie suit.
An acclaimed taxidermist from Goodfield, Illinois, Anthony, 56, was also a pro-staff member for several archery-related companies and an outdoor writer. He had written numerous articles for North American Whitetail Magazine and website. All of Anthony’s online articles to NAW have since been removed from that website. Anthony was also dismissed from his role with the Illinois Whitetail Alliance and is no longer a pro-staffer for Bear Archery. He is also a regular contributor to www.bowhunting.net. In addition, Anthony is listed as the president of Atet, a large construction company serving central Illinois.
A few days later after viewing photos of Anthony’s deer, Cole was visiting The Antler Collector Facebook page when he noticed another photo of two racks sitting side by side on what appears to be a kitchen floor. One of the racks, he said, was a “dead ringer” for the rack on the buck Anthony said he killed in Illinois.
After several posts by users stating they thought each rack was impressive, a comment was made by Cole, who wrote, “Not sure how I should go about this, but here goes…why is that rack so familiar to this one? More than coincidence?” He then posted a photo of the deer Anthony claimed to have killed in Illinois in 2010. Mike Charowhas of The Antler Collector page responded to Cole’s comment by stating, “HOLY COW !!!!!!!! DAN. That’s the deer,” inferring it was the same rack that he once owned.
Cole said he made the connection that the two racks might actually be the same because of the way the one brow tine is tilted at an odd angle.
“As a measurer and collector with 30 years of experience, you see tens of thousands of deer,” Cole said. “You develop a trait where you learn to recognize special details in some racks. That brow tine that’s slanted at 60 degrees is a very recognizable trait.”
Back on The Antler Collector Facebook page, Cole added these comments:
“…I didn’t go searching for anything in particular. However, there was a thread going a few days earlier where the field photo was being questions and something not being right about the antlers. I was part of that thread and shared a few opinions, obviously I was looking at the rack in detail. When Mike posted his photo above, it was only a day or two after the other thread. When I seen Mike’s photo, the antlers were very familiar but I couldn’t pinpoint anything immediately. After looking at them for a few minutes it suddenly dawned on me they could very well be the same set. That’s when I asked Mike about them and the rest took off from there. There was no “smoking gun” other than pure coincidence the threads were posted days apart.
“I’ve been an antler measurer, collector, and dealer for close to 30 years. A person develops an eye for antler detail. I have a reputation within our “circles” for remembering antlers, as do many other antler collectors and measurers. It’s not a special gift by any means, it’s just a trait that is developed after handling thousands and thousands of antlers. You don’t remember them all, but with some you just don’t forget. With this particular set it was the brow tines that set them apart. The left side being short and angled makes it quite distinguishable. …”
On its website, Anthony’s taxidermy business lists “antler repair” as one of its specialties.
Although Deer & Deer Hunting did receive several comments from Anthony via email last week, he did not directly answer our question on whether he did or did not misrepresent any of the bucks he has killed over the years. Further attempts to contact Anthony have been unsuccessful.
Charowhas has also not responded to interview requests.
In other news concerning this incident, the Pope and Young Club said it will investigate Anthony’s whitetail listings in their record books. Also, earlier today, a representative from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said they could not confirm or deny that the DNR was investigating a case of fraudulent use of wildlife for profit from Schuyler County.
The Anthony issue surfaced last week when a photo of whitetail rack owned by a Kansas antler collector in 2008 was posted on an antler collecting page on Facebook. Cole — one of that page’s followers — pointed out that the rack was similar in appearance and configuration to the rack of a buck Anthony said he killed in Schuyler County, Illinois, in 2010. The 12-pointer was assessed a net score of 187-4/8 inches, according to the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
Then, for the 2011 Illinois Deer Expo’s big-buck contest, he entered the near-190-class giant and won best of show.