It was during a typical cold Southeast Alaskan November day in 1968 when Felix Villarma tied his 20-foot wooden scow onto a Kadin Island beach. He was in a draw and nearing the top of a mountain, sneaking through the foliage and the rain, when he saw a doe about 100 yards away.
“I watched her watch me, then all of the sudden this big buck walked right next to her and looked down the mountain at me,” Villarma said. “I put my 270 to my shoulder and had it in my crosshairs, aimed for the neck and pulled the trigger.”
Villarma said the Sitka Black-tailed deer was bigger than he even imagined as he field dressed the animal on the mountainside. It took him more than three hours to get the deer back to his scow.
“I took my time getting back to Wrangell,” Villarma said.
When he got back, the Department of Fish and Game weighed the buck. Villarma entered it into the Wrangell Derby and placed second. His buck weighed 170.5 pounds—a half a pound lighter than the deer that took the Derby’s first place award. According to AF&G, the average weight of a Sitka Black-tailed male is 120 pounds.
Villarma’s buck also holds the number one rank of Alaskan Big game in 1971. And since then Villarma said the buck’s antlers have been hanging on his bedroom wall.
“Our extra bedroom wall,” Verda Villarma, Felix’s wife, corrected.
That is until his nephew, Justin Davies, convinced him to enter the antlers into this year’s Boone and Crockett 28th North American Big Game Awards Program. And to Villarma’s delight it took first place.
The antlers scored 125 5/8 points—a scoring system used by Boone and Crockett that takes multiple measurements of an animal’s antlers and compiles them into a final score. Very few Black-tailed antlers score over 110 points based on that system.
Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. It’s the nation’s oldest conservation group and initiated the creation of national parks such as Denali, Glacier, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
Villarma was 36 years old when he shot the buck on Kadin Island. He’s now 81.