Sports A Field

Tropical Titan

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A South American whitetail shatters the world record.

Photo above: Ricardo Guardia Vazquez with his huge South American whitetail, taken in Venezuela.

The white-tailed deer is considered a quintessential North American game animal; its antlers are unique and have a distinct main beam from which tines mostly grow upward, a configuration not seen in any other deer species, and together with their cousin the mule deer, they form a unique genus in the deer family of the world.  Everybody knows they occur in Canada, the continental US, and northern Mexico, but fewer people realize that they are found throughout Mexico and from there into Central America. Whitetail populations are also known to extend all the way into northern Bolivia, thousands of miles south of the US border. Some authorities claim they can be found well into Brazil as far south as the Argentinean border, but this is not widely accepted.

Very little is known to North American hunters about the “tropical whitetail,” which is a catchall phrase applied to all whitetails from southern Mexico to central South America. They are smaller in body and antler size than the more Northern populations, but the exact number of subspecies is in dispute. South America is unique in that is has two distinctly isolated populations: one along its northern West Coast close to the Pacific, and another that runs parallel to the first but more inland and at higher elevations. Elsewhere, whitetails are more or less found in a continuous population from northern Brazil all the way to the Yukon.

Rowland Ward recognizes four categories of white tailed deer; North American, Coues, Central American, and South American.  Since so little is known about the more southern races, this seems to be a sensible division at this point in time. 

Recently Rowland Ward received a tremendous entry from Venezuela by Ricardo Guardia Vazquez for a South American white-tailed deer that shattered the previous record. With main beams of 16 1/8 and 13 inches and an inside spread of 12 3/8, this deer does not seem very big to a Canadian hunter albeit a Coues deer nimrod would consider it a respectable buck.  However, in South America, this is a top head and, in fact, the biggest ever recorded in Rowland Ward. The typical frame on this buck is a 3×3 with a non-typical point on the right side for a total score of 97 3/8. 

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