With 39 points and over 300″ of scoreable antler, the Minnesota Monarch may be the largest recorded whitetail in history. However, the Minnesota Monarch often goes unmentioned when talking about truly behemoth whitetails. Reason being, not much was known about him. He did not live in the cropland of the midwest or on a Texas ranch but rather the Minnesota Monarch was a true giant that lived in the vast wilderness of northern Minnesota. He would appear each winter to eat from a residents feed station outside of Ely before disappearing back into the fringes of the BWCA each spring. Where his true home range was is still relatively unknown.
The Minnesota Monarch was rumored to carry an incredible 334″ of non-typical antler growth, but a lot of his history is steeped in rumor. The man who consistently picked up his sheds asked to remain anonymous, and although he was not a hunter himself, he believed the deer was killed by a hunter in the winter of ’91-’92. What we do know is that the set of sheds that the Monarch left behind in the winter of ’89-’90 will go down as the largest matching set ever found. The right antler scored a whopping 180″, yes you read that correctly. His left antler came in at an impressive 139 4/8″. That adds up to 319 4/8″ gross with a net of 310 4/8. The only unknown variable associated with the massive buck was his inside spread. It is assumed that his spread would have measured around 23 1/2″ which would have made total antler growth approx. 334″. A truly incredible animal to say the least.
The Monarch reached his maximum potential in the fall/spring of 1989/1990 when it was believed he was 8 or 9; unusually old for such massive headgear. The antlers he sported that fall are the set that has gone into the books as the largest ever recorded. He returned in the winter of ’91 but sported a much smaller rack. His sheds were never found, nd no hunter in the area ever reported a buck of his magnitude being seen or killed. The questions behind his demise is what keeps his legacy alive. Was he poached or possibly drug down by wolves? Did he die of old age? We will never know for sure but it is the mystery behind what could have been the largest whitetail to ever roam the earth that allows him to live on. The man who photographed and fed deer in the area asked to stay anonymous to keep hunters from knowing the buck’s location but after the sheds were revealed to locals, word spread fast. The man was quoted as saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t hide them. They brought too many people out and put too much pressure on the heard. The big bucks I’ve had here, they have killed all of them”. He believes that the buck was killed by a hunter in the fall of 1991. “He didn’t come back the third year; I’m sure he got shot,” he said. To date, no antlers of that magnitude have ever turned up.
Many northern whitetails migrate to safer locations offering more feed during the winter months to better their odds of surviving the harsh northern climate. That was exactly the case with the Minnesota Monarch. Each February for 3 consecutive years, the massive buck would show up to feed during late winter before returning to the vast wilderness of the BWCA in the spring.
I spend a lot of my summer weekends in the Northwoods not far from where the Minnesota Monarch was believed to live and although I have never seen a buck that would accumulate a score even half of what the Monarch topped out at, I have bared witness to a few northern Minnesota giants. The vastness of the 1.1 million acre BWCA makes locating and hunting trophy bucks a true challenge but at the same time, knowing that the Monarchs genetics live on keep the dream alive. It is possible that a distant descendant may be roaming the wilderness of the north. In an area that remote, many whitetails may go unseen their entire lives.
It has been almost 30 years since this magnificent animal disappeared and he is seldom talked about but his legend will undoubtedly live on among hunting camps throughout the north-woods.