Belated Congratulations to Arthur Young
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 8, 2011.)
Among America’s deer hunters, a Pennsylvania teenager accomplished a feat neither Daniel Boone nor Davy Crockett – nor other contenders for the title “king of the wild frontier” – are known to have done. Not famed deerslayer Philip Tome, nor John James Audubon, nor Meshach Browning – all legendary contemporaries of Mr. Boone and Mr. Crockett. And Mr. Young.
After 135 years, scoring officials finally
put a tape measure on the antlers.
Not renowned still-hunter Theodore S. VanDyke, nor the other Theodore – the one who became President Roosevelt. By the time these illustrious hunters were born, Arthur Young had already done at age 17 what would distinguish him 135 years later.
Unlike another Art Young, the one of Pope and Young Club archery fame, few have heard of this Arthur Young or know his unique place in deer hunting history. His name is part of the hunting lore of Pennsylvania, and the chronicles of hunting in North America.
Although the wildlife history of the era is sketchy, at least one fact can be judged sure – that in 1830, 17-year old Arthur Young shot a giant whitetail buck that is now and will surely forever be the oldest entry in the Boone and Crockett Club record book. And not just for whitetails, but for every species on the continent.
Born in 1813, Arthur Young became a market hunter living in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania. He is credited with killing some 1500 deer during his lifetime – not an unusual exploit for those days, considering that most meat didn’t come from giant cattle ranches. Market hunting was legal, commonplace, and provided backwoodsmen with a livelihood in those hard-scrabble times.
He shot his now famous 12-point buck in McKean County, PA near Norwich, a rugged area a dozen miles south of Smethport. No one knows what the weather was like on the day of that successful hunt, or exactly what day it was, but a 1965 letter to the Boone and Crockett Club from Young’s great, great grandson C. R. Studholme (now deceased) documented enough facts to authenticate the antlers for scoring.
Fortunately, family members through the years appreciated both their ancestor and the antlers enough to ensure the survival of Arthur’s old rack.
Aside from family annals and the rack itself, two other physical relics survive from that notable hunt – the rifle, and the powderhorn. According to Gordon Whittington of North America Whitetail magazine, the rifle was an early caplock muzzleloader made by Patrick Smith of Buffalo, NY. These historic artifacts have remained in the family for all these years, and reinforce the credibility of Studholme’s letter.
Arthur Young could never make his own claim for a place in the record books because records didn’t exist until long after he died. And neither Young nor anyone at the time could have had any idea what a world-class buck was, as there was no basis for comparison.
To put Young’s remarkable buck into perspective, he shot it only 54 years after the American Revolution and 28 years before Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the Boone & Crockett Club, was born. The nation’s seventh President, Andrew Jackson was in office.
The Boone & Crockett Club wasn’t formed until 1887, and didn’t adopt the record-keeping system used today until 1950.
In 1965, scoring officials finally put a tape measure on the antlers. Young’s typical 12-point tallied 175 4/8 inches. The rack and its history were saved from obscurity after 135 years. Today it ranks as the number ten typical buck ever recorded in Pennsylvania.
Young passed away in 1878, 87 years before his buck would enter the records. He rests beside his wife Laurinda at Goodwin cemetery in Farmers Valley along route 446 north of Smethport, PA.
Whittington has held the Arthur Young rack in his hands, and tells me he is preparing a fuller account of this buck and its history for the December issue of North American Whitetail.
Although opinions differ on the Boone & Crockett Club and its record system for game animals, the Arthur Young buck gives us an opportunity to thank the organization for two things. It has immortalized a treasured piece of hunting history from a century before the days of modern wildlife conservation. And it secures Arthur Young’s rightful place among America’s earliest hunting legends.