Not to make light of what seems like a very serious matter, but the recent unravelings of famous Illinois whitetail bowhunter Marc Anthony (the ghillie suit guy) seem like, as Yogi Berra would say, “Déjà vu all over again.”
by Daniel E. Schmidt
As a deer hunting world, we’ve been here before. Quasi-famous hunter is accused of faking his way into the record books. If you haven’t seen the story, click this link. In short, the claim is that Anthony got his hands on a record-class 12-pointer, then surgically inserted the antlers onto a smaller buck that he may or may not have killed in Illinois.
Where the truth lies, we’re not 100 percent certain, but the photos are pretty damning. The rack from an antler collector and that of the deer Anthony claimed to have killed in Illinois are darned-near identical. The only differences that I can see from the photos are two small sticker points above and below the brow tine on the left side of the photo of the antler collector’s deer. Internet theories abound, with many folks saying that Anthony, an acclaimed taxidermist, removed those sticker points, then stained the rack.
Possible? Certainly. Probable? Who knows.
From where I sit, I’d say we only know a few things for certain:
1. Marc Anthony didn’t get rich off of this deer. Nobody ever does. Stop believing hype that big deer are worth “millions.” They’re not. I’ve worked in this industry for 20 years, and I’ll venture a guess that — if this indeed is true — the big deer may or may not have helped Anthony convince some of his pro-staff manufacturers that he was, indeed, a hunter like no other. If so, so be it. But those pro-staff gigs are far from lucrative. It’s more about the exposure and name recognition than anything else.
2. Marc Anthony must be going through hell right now. Whatever becomes of this situation, what he has already experienced is most likely a punishment beyond anything any other mortal could envision. Yes, if the accusations are true, he brought this on himself. However, if there’s any truth to his safety concerns, we all need to show him some level of compassion. And we also need to call out the alleged losers who would be making such threats.
3. If he did lie his way to the top, Anthony was pretty brazen about it. Here is an article that was posted on his very own website on April 28, 2011. The article, written by Les Davenport, was titled, “So You Want to Be a Pro-Staffer?” included this chilling commentary: “Self-pressure and sponsorship pressure to perform causes a large percent of these guys and gals to cheat. And cheating game laws is easily edited.”
Then, in the comments section after the article, Anthony writes:
“One thing that bothers me is being lumped in to this crowd. … I pro staff for several big companies too, but am very careful about how my name is used and so forth. I also obey property lines and laws to the fullest and don’t really care if I score or not, although I certainly would like to! When I sign a pro staff agreement, I make it very clear that I’m not required to kill deer every year. I hunt in the real world and the real world says you will get skunked now and then, period. I think this constant pressure companies place on their pro staff to perform is not realistic and they simply just can’t do it. I feel it’s more important to set a good example to the younger crowd than it is to cry phony tears like a baby after killing a penned deer.”
That article was posted on Anthony’s website exactly one month after Anthony won the Illinois Deer Classic for the deer in question. Read the whole article here.
4. Lastly, we also know that this most likely will go down in deer hunting history as yet another black eye for deer hunters everywhere.
All over a set of antlers.
UPDATE: MAY 9, 3:47 P.M.:
If Marc Anthony misrepresented his deer at the March 2011 Illinois Deer Classic, it wouldn’t be the first instance of fakery at the nation’s top deer classics.
Several years ago, a Wisconsin Deer Classic winner (divisional, not best of show) told a national outdoor writer a great story about the whopper buck he killed. The man told this story with his 12-year-old son standing by his side, listening. The writer was doing the article for a Wisconsin magazine. Turned out, the deer was a road kill that his neighbor had picked up. The guy bought the carcass from his neighbor.