The James Jordan buck has an incredible story behind it.
Most whitetail deer hunters have at least a passing knowledge of the James Jordan buck. This Burnett County, Wisconsin monster is a legend, and it is still the second largest typical whitetail ever taken by a hunter, behind only Milo Hanson's world record from Saskatchewan that has stood since the early 1990s.
Jim Jordan's record buck is also sometimes called the "Sandstone Buck." It was shot all the way back in 1914 near Danbury after the then 22-year-old hunter followed a fresh set of tracks to the animal with his friend Egus Davis. After taking multiple shots with a severely under-powered .25-20 Winchester rifle, Jordan found the buck in the Yellow River.
That was just the start of the story of this big buck. After taking his prize harvest to a local taxidermist, George VanCastle, the buck promptly disappeared and was not seen again for decades, resulting in one of the most puzzling mysteries in hunting history.
We can only imagine Jordan's frustration after traveling to Hinckley, Minnesota only to find his taxidermist had skipped town with no note on what he did with his customer's antlers. These days it would be easy to track him down thanks to the Internet. In 1914, Jordan had few options. It makes us wonder if some of Jordan's friends and family thought it was just a wild deer hunting tale, much like a fisherman's tall tales.
In any case, it is an absolute fluke bit of good luck that Jordan's nephew Bob Ludwig ran across the buck nearly 50 years later at a rummage sale. We are sure the buck would have surfaced, and it probably would have still been the new world record for Boone and Crockett club, but we might never have known who shot it if not for that lucky coincidence. That and the fact that Jordan was still alive after all that time. We are glad he finally got to see his buck again, but it is so sad to know he never saw it officially entered into the record book, or on the cover of North American Whitetail magazine.
At least the deer and Jordan did finally get credit. Remember that this buck was shot back before most modern game management practices were even in place. There were no quality deer advocates, or people passing animals to let them grow. That just makes the deer that much more impressive.
Fortunately, now everyone can appreciate the deer as part of Bass Pro Shops' "King of Bucks" collection in Springfield, Missouri. And through the many Jordan buck replicas that are floating around. He may not have lived to see it, but we imagine Jordan would be proud and thrilled to see the impact his harvest had on the hunting world as a whole.
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