An Eastport man says he's been told he may have bagged a caribou with the biggest and best rack of antlers — ever.
What's more, Jeff Samson took down the animal with a compound bow, not a rifle, meaning he also had to get a lot closer to his target.
"I knew it had a big rack on it. So just for curiosity sake I figured I go and get it measured, right?" Samson who was hunting in woods east of Gander when he made the recent kill.
Samson logged on to the U.S.-based Boone and Crockett hunting website, which offers an online measuring tool. He plugged in his estimates, which suggested he had a world record.
"I done that and it scored up pretty high. I figured I must've had something done wrong with it, to get such a high score."
The site also provided a link to a place in Newfoundland where he could get an official assessment of the antlers.
"And they said I had a world record. They said I beat the old one by 30 points."
"I seen the animal maybe a couple of times," he said "The first couple of times I couldn't get close enough to kill it with a bow, 'cause you gotta have a shorter range than with a rifle."
He estimates he was within 15 yards of the stag when he took his shot, killing it with one arrow.
Samson said getting that close is no easy task when it comes to animals with such a keen sense of wherewithal in their own habitat.
"(They) are pretty witty and they don't usually let you that close to them," Samson said. "It tests your skill more. You have to judge wind conditions, your cover, how close you can get. Basically, you gotta outwit the animal to get close enough to it."
Samson said he also put in several months of target practice before taking to the woods.
He said he knew he'd taken down a big animal, but wasn't thinking about world records at the time.
"(They) are pretty witty and they don't usually let you that close to them. It tests your skill more."
- Caribou hunter Jeff Samson
Samson said while size matters for the record, it's not the only factor. Antlers are also graded on their condition and uniformity, or "if they look good and are in good shape."
He's since learned the old record has stood for 47 years, and was also set by a bow hunter.
Record was afterthought
Meanwhile, Samson insists he was shooting for sustenance, not a record, but he'll take it just the same.
"It feels kind of hard to believe, 'cause I'm not a trophy hunter. When I hunt, I hunt for meat — whether it be moose, caribou, other big game ... or even small game like ducks or rabbit.
"(But) it was pretty good eatin'!"
Samson is holding off mounting the antlers in case they have to be sent away for official verification of a record.
As for their value, he's indifferent.
"If somebody wants them bad enough I guess they'll be worth something, hey?"
An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that Jeff Samsom used a crossbow. He actually used a compound bow.Nov 25, 2013 7:23 PM NT