Antlers By Klaus

The Kansas King Buck: A 'Ghost Deer' and the World Record That Never Was

One of the biggest bucks of all time shed its antlers and disappeared.

The Kansas King Buck was among a select group of legendary bucks that no man can claim. They walked the earth like whitetail royalty: big, strong, and unmatched. These are the biggest bucks known that never made it to the whitetail world record books. Not because they didn't quality. Far from it. Some of these bucks would have blown the current record holders off the thrown by a huge margin. These monster bucks didn't make it to the books because they weren't killed or tagged by any hunter. These bucks disappeared into the wilderness to die an unwitnessed death, leaving only sheds and stories behind. To hunters, they're ghosts and legends.

These legendary whitetails grew to world-class sizes and then vanished, leaving bewildered hunters behind wondering what might have been. One of these bucks, "the General," was a giant that would likely have outscored the Milo Hanson buck, which claimed the title of world record typical whitetail buck with his 213 5/8-inch beast in 1993 and has held it since, by as much as four inches.

The Kansas King, like The General, left behind some of the most impressive typical shed sets ever found. Here is the story of the Kansas King.

The Legend of the Kansas King

Kansas King Buck

Travis Smola

According to an article from North American Whitetail's Dick Idol in 1994, the story of the Kansas King began two seasons prior, in the fall of 1992. At the time, the James Jordan buck held the typical world record crown and would for another year until Milo Hanson dropped his monster that November. Details on the full story of the King are a little vague, but we know at least one bowhunter knew about and pursued this monster near Liberal, Kansas, in 1992. We also know the hunter saw the buck several times. The hunter never got a clear shot at the King.

Fast-forward to the spring of 1993. This is where the story diverges. Idol states that the hunter who pursued the buck is the one who found the sheds, but there is also another origin story of how the buck's crown was discovered. So it goes with legends. There are often multiple versions of how they came to be. The second version of the story is that a rancher was checking on one of his stock tanks when he spotted the antlers nearby. This rancher clearly was not a hunter because he left the antlers behind. It is rumored the rancher's son was the one who later realized the significance and retrieved them. Thus, the whitetail world got a glimpse at what might have been.

The two matched sides of the Kansas King show he was a nearly perfect 6x6, although Idol notes the buck had snapped off his G1 and G2 tines on his left side at some point during the rut. A taxidermist later recreated these tines and repaired them based on a description by the hunter who pursued the animal.

There is a lot of speculation about this buck. This buck's main beams were 27 4/8 and 28 inches long, respectively. Many of the tines are above 12 inches, and the G2s were likely 14 inches. The unbroken right antler scores a staggering 98 4/8 inches all by itself. We can only guess at the length of the broken tines on the left side and the inside spread. However, most whitetail historians believe it was very likely an unbroken version of the Kansas King would easily gross 217 inches typical. The rack has no abnormal points either, so there's an excellent chance it would have barely netted higher than Hanson's 213 5/8-inch record.

That means had the Kansas King buck been harvested before he broke those tines, it is very likely that Hanson may have never held the world record. Whitetail hunting history would look a whole lot different than it does now. That's one wild "what if" scenario to think about all these years later.

The Other Set of Sheds

Kansas King Buck

Travis Smola

As if one set of sheds was not enough, there is a second set of world-class sheds from the same area that some hunters call the "Kansas Prince." They were allegedly found in the same field as the King's crown. While not nearly as large as the King, it's estimated the second set would likely score around 201 inches. It's exceedingly rare for any wild whitetail to break the 200-inch barrier, so the fact there are two sets of sheds from the same area is mind-boggling.

There is some disagreement among hunters about the Kansas Prince. While some hunters believe it is simply the King's rack from the previous year, rumors swirl that a second monster ran around the area around the same time. There are rumblings that the two bucks often ran together and that perhaps it was the Prince who broke the King's two tines in 1992. The idea of two 200-inch typical whitetails clashing antlers is the stuff of whitetail hunter's wildest dreams.

There are no reports of the Kansas King after 1992.  In November 1993, Hanson shot his buck in Canada and finally dethroned the Jordan buck for the number one spot. We imagine quite a few people who hunted Kansas in 1992 are probably still wondering what could have been. The Kansas King will go down in history as the one that got away.

Read More: The General: A Giant Nebraska Whitetail That Was Bigger Than The Rompola Buck