More info on San Juan’s world record mule deer
by Bill Boyle
Oct 20, 2010 | 7442 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dust in the Wind

On October 18, 1968, at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Bob Beamon shattered a world record with a performance that many people thought would never be matched.

In the high altitude of Mexico City and with strange atmospheric conditions caused by an electrical storm that had recently passed nearby, Beamon ran down the track and leaped into history.

His jump of 29 feet, 2.5 inches was astounding, nearly two feet farther than anyone had ever jumped before. The Olympic officials seemed incredulous and checked for more than 30 minutes to insure that their measurements were right.

You see, Beamon jumped so far that he leaped right over the electronic monitors that measured each competitor’s jump.

It was a mind-boggling performance and resulted in a new phrase for the English language: Beamonesque. To this day, an incredible performance in the sporting world is often called Beamonesque.

But time marches on and 23 years later, Mike Powell did the impossible. He beat Beamon’s record. Even the most incredible world record in track and field history was eventually beaten.

However, another world record was set the very next day and this record still stands. On October 19, 1968, Eastland resident Max Johnson was hunting on the opening day of deer season with his son Keele and shot a huge mule deer near their home. [See photo here]

Keele had spotted this monster buck, along with another monster buck, on the family farm a month before the season started. Keele says the deer were identical twins, both the same size. On the opening morning of deer season, they were both still together. Max remembers seeing both bucks – it didn’t matter which buck he chose to shoot – they were both big.

However, no one knew it was a world record for nearly 40 years. The massive buck was mounted and sat in Johnson’s home and, eventually, in the Science Building at the College of Eastern Utah-San Juan Campus in Blanding.

It wasn’t until recently that the buck’s rack was measured and it was named the world record mule deer by Safari Club International.

The massive San Juan County buck scored 228 5/8 typical. When shot it was 42 inches wide, 28 ½ inches high with an antler circumference of 6 inches. The buck now travels the world to be admired by hunters at shows near and far.

If an October, 1968 world record in track resulted in a new word for the English language, it is only fair that the world record mule deer spawn a new word.

My brother Scott and I spent the weekend trying to think of the perfect name for the buck. We considered quite a few names, including Max-nificent, Eastland-riffic, CEU-tiful, The Magic Johnson, and the Big Buckaroo.

However, the best name may be the simplest of all. How about simply: Max?

While Beamon’s record was far and away the longest jump of the era, Keele states that his father’s deer may not have been the largest from that time.

Johnson states that his uncle, Forrest Johnson, once shot a Non-Typical deer with a 46-inch spread.

Keele explains, “Forrest just wanted the meat and he left the antlers in the field. Ronnie Young and I went back and got them. But it just wasn’t that big of a deal. They hunted for the meat and didn’t realize what they had.”

Keele states that the genetics for world record mule deer bucks abound in the area. The Boone and Crocket world record, (known as the Burris Buck) with a score of 226-4/8, was taken 30 miles away near Dolores, CO in 1972. The Boone and Crocket Utah state record, 212-1/8, was taken 12 miles away, near Monticello.

The prior Safari Club International world record, 226 – 3/8, was taken on the Henry Mountains in 2008, possibly a descendant of San Juan County mule deer that were transplanted from the Johnson farm to the Henry Mountain two decades ago.

Keele doesn’t know where Forrest Johnson’s 46-inch buck is today. “It was mounted over the door of the Four Corner’s Meat Processing Plant in Monticello for many years,” said Johnson. “I hear that some hunter from the Grand Junction area bought it. Who knows where it is today?”

Maybe a new world record will be taken during the current hunting season. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take 42 years to hear about it.
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