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Brian Ross: Portrait of an Antler Collector

With 76 entries and counting, Brian Ross has the largest collection of whitetails belonging to any individual in the Boone and Crockett records. 

By PJ DelHomme 

Brian Ross started collecting antlers in 1983 when he was 10 years old. He still has his first set, an eight-point whitetail with a broken brow tine that sits over his bed in his Maine home. He got his first bow a couple of years later and remains a hardcore bowhunter. As a kid, he would “go around banging on doors” to find antlers. Now 50, Ross has been collecting for so long that people know who he is, and the days of banging on doors in search of antlers are over. 

Ross never intended to be in the records at all. For 30 years, he never entered a deer in the books. In 2021, he entered 47 whitetails. In 2022, he entered 17. “I’m entering them now because the collection I've put together is very special, and I'm getting older,” he says. “I want to have some type of record and share them with my fellow hunters. It’s been a good portion of my life’s work to acquire and preserve these world-class whitetails. If I die before they’re entered, decades of my research and history on these deer will be lost.”

If Mounts Could Talk   

A score sheet adds up points, but it doesn’t tell a story, which is part of the reason Ross is entering his collection now. He wants to make sure the story goes with the antlers. Stories like the one that follows—the Flora Campbell buck. Some call it the Trapline Buck. 

The Trapline Buck, taken by Flora Campbell in 1953. 

Ross first read about this buck as a kid in the early 1980s in the pages of North American Whitetail magazine. In 1953, Flora Campbell and her husband were hunting their trapline around Cherryfield, Maine. This particular buck was entirely consumed by a hot doe, and Flora dropped it. For more than 40 years, Flora’s buck was the highest-scoring whitetail killed by a woman in the U.S. Today, it ranks sixth in Maine for non-typical whitetails. 

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“That’s one of the most important sets of antlers to me,” Ross says. "Reading the story over and over throughout my childhood and dreaming about hunting and trapping the wilds of Maine and chasing giant-racked deer like that fueled my passion to collect and preserve our hunting heritage by collecting antlers. Flora's deer is just a beautiful, heavy specimen from Downeast Maine that was taken nearly 70 years ago. There hasn’t been a bigger one submitted into the records from that area since.”

Ross met the legendary antler collector Fred Goodwin when he was in his teens. He calls Goodwin one of the pioneers of antler collecting who began saving not just trophy deer antlers in the 1920s but the stories behind them. 

Ross also owns the legendary Silver Ridge Buck taken by Fred Goodwin in 1949 in Silver Ridge, Maine. With a 225-6/8-inch typical frame and a 36-inch spread, it is considered one of the very biggest-looking deer in the world, Ross says. This photo of Fred with the buck in the back of his old truck is one of the most historical photos of a giant whitetail there is, he adds.

Ross remembers picking up issues of North American Whitetail magazine, which featured giant whitetails like the Hole in the Horn Buck, currently the second-biggest whitetail in the records. In the early 1980s, Goodwin sold his antler collection to Dick Idol, who co-founded North American Whitetail. Since then, Ross has spent years searching for and acquiring many of the biggest heads that were part of Goodwin's collection, including the Father Maney Buck—one of the oldest trophies in the Boone and Crockett records. 

Father Maney was a priest who lived in Danforth, Maine, in the mid- to late-1800s. He killed a 30-inch wide buck prior to the Civil War. In 1934, Goodwin wanted to buy the rack, and he tracked down a relative of Father Maney who still had it. He bought the rack for five dollars. Eight decades later, Ross added the deer to his own collection. “It doesn't have a big score. It barely makes the book,” Ross says. “But there’s Maine deer hunting history there, and it’s not going to repeat itself. I don’t chase down yesterday’s big buck. I try to acquire historic trophy deer killed decades ago because I love the history of deer hunting.”

Father Maney's buck was harvested in Aroostook Co., Maine, some time in the mid-1800s.

Ross has a soft spot for Maine whitetails, which is related to his love of the Maine woods and the rich sporting history of the Big Woods. He’s collected a number of state records, including Maine’s jaw-dropping number one non-typical, the Hill Gould buck.

Gould was a Maine guide in the early 1900s. He carved out a day to hunt for himself, and this monster appeared out of the alders. Hill shot it, dressed out the deer, and brought the heart and liver back to the hunting shack. After tossing the organs on the table, his buddies couldn’t believe they came from a deer; their best guess was a moose. The antlers are pretty big, too, with 31 scorable points and circumference measurements totaling more than 70 points. The Gould Buck still carries one of the highest, if not the highest, amount of mass measurements for a wild whitetail in the records today. 

Ross with the Gould buck, which has a B&C score of 259 points.

He’s Not Done 

When Ross decided to record his collection in the Boone and Crockett records, he contacted a Boone and Crockett Official Measurer who spent three solid days measuring 47 whitetails, 43 of which made the All-time book. Ross’ current record-book count sits at 76 entries, but he’s not done. Over the next few years, he hopes to enter a few dozen more. 
“What I want people to see is that the passion for acquiring and collecting trophy deer and recording them is the same as those who hunt them,” Ross says. “This is not just the history of antlers but the history of whitetail deer and deer hunting in North America." 

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The Importance of Records in Big Game Management

When you enter your trophy into the Boone and Crockett system, you aren’t just honoring the animal and its habitat. You are participating in a data collection system that started in the 1920s and was refined by Club members in 1950. Today, there are nearly 60,000 trophy records. By establishing a records database more than 70 years ago, the Boone and Crockett Club established a scientific baseline from which researchers can use to study wildlife management. If you’re still  on the fence about entering your trophy, we encourage you to read Why Should I Bother to Enter My Trophy. To the best of our ability, we ensure that the trophies entered into the records were taken in accordance with the tenets of fair chase ethics. Despite what some may think, the Boone and Crockett records are not about a name or a score in a book—because in the end, there’s so much more to the score.


PJ DelHomme writes and edits content from his home in western Montana. He runs Crazy Canyon Media and Crazy Canyon Journal.  

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt