A few months ago I wrote a well-received column called "Fascinating Fishing Facts," a collection of amazing information about the biggest, smallest, fastest, strangest, oldest and most expensive in the world of angling.
With hunting season in full swing, a similar collection of stimulating trivia about game animals, hunters, shooters, guns, dogs and more — is now in order.
I've spent years compiling this delectable compendium of incredible facts and hope this avalanche of the irrelevant will surprise, bewilder, intrigue and entertain you as much as it has me.
Fifteen-year-old Tony Lovstuen was deer hunting in Monroe County, Iowa, on Sept. 29, 2003, when he killed a monster whitetail with his muzzleloader. This deer's atypical antlers scored 307 5/8 Boone and Crockett points, making this the biggest rack on any whitetail ever killed by a hunter.
The record that almost wasn't
Saskatchewan hunter Milo Hanson killed the world-record typical whitetail in 1993, a massive buck that scored 213-5/8 Boone and Crockett points. When Hanson shot the deer, the bullet passed through the animal's body and struck the right antler. Had the bullet broken the antler, rather than just chipping it, the Milo Hanson buck would have fallen into the ranks of could-have-beens.
In November, 1926, Carl Lenander Jr. dropped a monstrous Minnesota buck with a single shot. The field-dressed deer weighed 402 pounds. Conservation Department officials estimated its live weight at 511 pounds. No heavier white-tailed deer has ever been recorded.
Biggest black bear
The biggest black bear ever killed and put on scales was a 10-year-old male shot in North Carolina in November 1998, weighing an astonishing 880 pounds.
Heaviest polar bear
In 1960, an 11-foot, 1-inch tall polar bear weighing 2,210 pounds was shot at Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. This is the largest bear of any species ever documented.
An eastern wild turkey shot by Cody May in April 2007 near New Boston, Texas, set a world record for beard length. The gobbler's beard stretched an amazing 22.5 inches.
Montana's Ed McGivern was shooting at South Dakota's Lead Club Range on August 20, 1932, when he set a speed-shooting record by firing a .45-caliber revolver five times from 15 feet into an area with a diameter of 1.1875 inches. He accomplished this in 45/100s of a second (including the time needed to draw the gun from his holster) and did it twice that day.
Marathon shooting record
In October, 1959 at Reno, Nevada, Ohio native Tom Frye established a marathon and accuracy world record by hitting all but six of 100,000 hand-thrown wooden blocks with a .22 rifle. To establish this benchmark, Frye shot nine hours a day over a 13-day period.
One of the most fantastic firearms ever created is a working copy of a Remington 1859 revolver built by Poland's Ryszard Tobys. Listed by Guinness World Records as the world's largest revolver, this 99.2-pound, 4-foot-long gun holds six 1/4-pound bullets. In 2002, it was used in a shooting competition between NATO Reserve Forces from Great Britain, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. The Czechs won.
Hitting the jackpot
Acquiring one duck band a season ranks right up there. But how about two on consecutive shots in the same day? Howard Ewart may be one of few hunters ever to accomplish that when he shot a pair of banded mallard drakes near Thermopolis, Wyo., on Nov. 23, 1996.
Largest big-game animal ever mounted
On November 13, 1955, in Angola, J.J. Fenykovi of Hungary shot what was then the largest land animal ever slain by a big-game hunter: a 12-ton bull African elephant. The kill required 16 bullets from a .416 Rigby. The 13-foot, 2-inch tall elephant had tusks 7 feet long. The elephant was mounted for display in the rotunda of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it remains today.
Longest shot with a hand-held bow
On August 2, 1987, Don Brown established a world record by shooting an arrow with a 132-pound, hand-held recurve bow with a record distance of 1,336 yards, 1 foot, 3 inches.
Farthest traveling arrow
Henry Drake of Lakeside, Calif., at Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif., in October 1970, used a footbow to shoot an arrow a record distance of 1 mile, 101 yards, and 21 inches.
Most expensive decoy
The highest price ever paid at auction for an American waterfowl decoy is $856,000 for a red-breasted merganser hen carved sometime in the 19th century by Lothrop Holmes of Kingston, Mass. An unnamed person bought the rare decoy at a 2007 Christie's auction in New York.
Top grouse hunter
In 19th-century England, hunters in large shooting parties often competed to see who could bag the most gamebirds. No one would condone such shooting excesses in this day and age, but some shooting records from the period are remarkable feats of endurance. Consider the single-day record of Thomas de Grey, the Sixth Baron of Walsingham (1843 – 1919) who killed 1,070 grouse at Yorkshire's Blubberhouse Moor on August 30, 1888. To do it, he fired 1,510 cartridges during 20 drives and twice killed three birds in the air with a single shot.
Most varied bag
In January 1889, Walsingham also shot what may be the most varied bag ever recorded: 65 coots, 39 pheasants, 23 mallards, 16 rabbits, nine hares, seven teal, six partridges, six gadwalls, four pochards, three swans, three snipe, two moorhens, two herons, one otter, one woodcock, one woodpigeon, one goldeneye, one rat and a pike shot in shallow water.
Another prolific hunter was Great Britain's James Edward Harris (1798 – 1841), the Second Earl of Malmesbury, who kept detailed hunting diaries. During a lifetime of hunting, he killed 10,744 partridges, 7,417 rabbits, 8,862 pheasants, 5,211 hares, 4,694 snipe, 1,080 woodcocks, 145 rails, 50 quail, eight geese, six golden plovers and three swans. Altogether he hunted 3,645 days, walked 36,200 miles and fired more than four tons of shot.
The biggest bag of rabbits ever shot in Great Britain was probably at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. There, on Oct. 7, 1898, 6,943 rabbits were bagged by just five guns on seven drives.
Best snipe hunter
During 20 years of hunting in Louisiana, J.J. Pringle killed 78,602 snipe, including a one-day bag of 366 on December 11, 1877.
Biggest squirrel dinner
In 1859, two parties of Arkansas hunters competed to see which could kill the most squirrels. During the five-week competition, they bagged 19,765 squirrels. The difference between the two parties was 1,134. Local citizens enjoyed a huge barbecue at which the squirrels were served.
Most challenging gamebird
The honor of being our continent's most difficult wing-shooting challenge probably belongs to the Himalayan snowcock, an Asian game bird introduced to a few mountainous areas in Nevada. These birds are hunted only at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet and only in the Silver State's Elko County. Only 100 to 150 hunters pursue the snowcocks each year, harvesting a total of only 20 to 30 birds.
Most amazing hound
At Southern Forest World museum in Waycross, Ga., visitors can see Stuckie the Mummified Coon Hound, who became wedged in a hollow tree while hunting in the 1960s. Stuckie was preserved by the tree's resin and was found 20 years later by loggers clearing timber.
British Admiral Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) loved fox hunting so much he is said to have had a hunting scene tattooed across his backside. The unique selling point of this masterpiece was the fox — what could be seen of it (and then only when His Lordship was in the shower) was the brush disappearing between his nether cleavage.
To contact Keith Sutton, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Autographed copies of his books are available at www.catfishsutton.com.