Pennsylvania's #1 Non-Typical Buck: Edward Dodge Buck
The grandchildren of Edward Dodge with is #1 PA buck!
Pennsylvania has a rich deer hunting history dating back to the days of William Penn and the Quakers. With nearly a million hunters, it is no surprise that there are monster bucks killed each year. The Pennsylvania Game Commission started the Big Game Records in 1965. Since then, they have been scoring and entering PA Bucks, Bears, and Elk into the book.
Did you know that 20 Bucks in the Pennsylvania Big Game Record Book score over 200 inches? The PA Game Commission uses the Boone and Crockett system to score deer, with the Net score used to place it in the book. Two bucks score 203 ⅛ inches, giant bucks shot by Jim Rowles, and David Collins share the #10 spot. The remaining bucks #2 to #9 range from 230 2/8 inches to 203 ⅜.
Edward Dodge shot the #1 Non-Typical Rifle Buck and the largest scoring buck in 1942. This 29 point buck is a staggering 238 6/8 inches net and was the main attraction at the old Erie Sport Store on upper Peach Street. When the Erie Sport Store closed its doors, the buck found a new home at the Field and Stream in Erie.
How did the Dodge Buck end up at the Field and Stream in Erie? Edward Dodge's grandson, Travis Craig, works at Field and Stream and felt it would be an excellent display for the store since the buck was harvested in Erie County. I recently asked Travis about the deer, and he agreed to give me the story his grandfather had written down.
Edward Dodge was born on May 29, 1912, in Pennsylvania. He and his brother Daniel grew up hunting in Warren and Elk County. As they grew, Daniel eventually moved to Albion, PA, in Erie County. At the same time, Edward stayed in Knox, PA, in Clarion County. The brothers continued to hunt together, but neither knew their lives would be changed forever in 1942.
December 7, 1941, was the day the United States entered into World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, men of all ages were called into action, and many would volunteer to serve their country. Edward Dodge entered the military on December 1, 1942, allowing him one more hunt with his brother before joining the U.S. Army.
Edward could not decide whether to hunt in Warren or Elk County for that deer season. Still, his brother Daniel invited him up to Albion to chase some big woods in Erie County. Edward headed to Northwest Pennsylvania hunt with Daniel before reporting for active duty.
On the morning of November 30, the first day of the PA Rifle Season, Edward and Daniel shared a relaxing breakfast and then drove toward the Ohio line. The brothers decided to hunt a new area that the locals referred to as "Jumbo Woods." The vast woods was bordered by excellent farmland and were known to produce some large-bodied bucks.
The brothers located an area to park and discussed the morning hunt. Neither had ever hunted in the area, and they didn't feel confident about their decision. Edward and Daniel decided to find spots and stand until they got cold. They would then work together to do some small drives.
There was a fresh foot of snow on the ground, and the air was crisp and biting. Snow hung on the branches of the trees, the branches sagging with the weight. It was a beautiful day to be in the woods. The two men passed a few hunters on their way into the woods. Finding a spot, they liked they set up about 100 yards from each other.
Edward had been on the watch for about 15 minutes when two does came into view. Both stopped and looked back before they continued deeper into cover. Knowing to be ready, Edward watched for more deer. Moments later, a huge buck appeared.
At first, Edward didn't realize what he was walking his way. The body size of the buck was huge, but the rack was crazy. The deer looked like he was carrying a tree or bush on his head. Was it an elk? Edward knew there were no elk in this area, so he was a little perplexed.
Being caught off guard by this monster buck, it took him a few seconds to remember he was hunting and had a gun in his hands. Slowly raising his rifle and finding the massive buck in his view, he fired a shot, then two more shots.
After the third shot, the buck turned on his back legs and headed back from where he had come. Edward was confused, and his mind was going a million miles an hour. How could he have missed this buck three times when it was less than 125 yards away? Taking time to think and reload his gun, he understood what had happened.
The previous year, he loaned his gun to Daniel, who had purchased 220-grain bullets for the gun. Edward had always used 150-grain bullets. He had mistakenly loaded the 220-grain bullets this morning. Taking a deep breath, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the 150-grain bullets, loaded the gun, and hoped to get on the buck's trail.
Daniel had heard the shooting and came over to investigate. The conversation was brief as they formulated a plan to find the massive buck. Daniel was going to go on a wide circle and get in front of the deer while. Edward was going to get on the fresh tracks and slowly follow the buck.
With the snow on the ground and little wind, Daniel gave his brother 10 minutes to work around and hopefully get ahead of the buck. Confident that he could find the tracks, Edward went over to where he believed the deer was standing. Sure enough, tracks and no blood. The buck's tracks were enormous and easy to spot in the deep snow.
While tracking the buck, Edward felt confident he would get another crack at the tremendous buck. Being careful not to push the deer, it took him 30 minutes to cover 200 yards. Edward noticed the deer was no longer making giant leaps but had slowed to a walk and entered a pine area. He knew the buck was in this tight cover, but getting him was going to be tough.
Slowly and methodically, Edward followed the tracks until they disappeared into a thick pine cut. Pausing to gather his thoughts, he decided to circle the outer perimeter to see if the buck made it out the other side. Being careful to move slow, he circled the half-acre pine cut and saw no tracks leaving the thick cover. The buck must have bedded in the pines. Edward needed a way to make a last push on the buck.
Following his tracks backward, he looked for a place to enter the thicket. Finding a place where the trees were not so thick, he slipped into the thicket. The snow on the branches kept the branches low, forcing him to crawl on his stomach in some places. Snow fell on his head and down his back, but he kept moving. While on his stomach, he slowly moved a snowy branch out of his way. There stood the massive buck 30 yards away.
Assessing the situation and the possibility of getting into a good shooting position, Edward decided to make the shot while lying prone. Moving the 30-06 into position, he aimed at the buck's massive neck and squeezed off his fourth shot of the morning. Snow from the surrounding branches fell as the gigantic buck also fell to the ground.
Hearing the shot, Daniel yelled for Edward. An elated Edward screamed, "I got him!" Daniel helped his brother drag the massive buck back to the car, where they admired the buck and counted 38 points. Both brothers stood in awe.
Heading back home to Knox, PA, Edward didn't know how big the buck was. The next day, December 1, 1942, Edward reported for active duty. He remained in the U.S. Army for four years before returning home. While Edward was away, locals talked about the huge buck from Northwest Pennsylvania. After waiting another 27 years, he decided to have his Jumbo Woods bucks scored.
In 1973, Edward watched as his massive buck was officially scored for the Pennsylvania Big Game Record Book. When all the points were measured and added, the buck scored 238 6/8 inches as a non-typical. The Dodge Buck became the #1 Non-Typical Rifle Buck in the state of Pennsylvania. The buck has a 23 ⅝ inch inside spread and 29 scoreable points. The deer is genuinely unique, with over 43 inches of mass and 20 non-typical points with a phenomenal story.
Edward passed away on February 15, 1981. Since his death, there have been seven bucks, over 200 inches, entered into the PA Big Game Records, Rifle Non-Typical Category. None have been able to claim the top spot. In 2016, a 228 6/8 inch Non-Typical Archery Buck was entered, still 10 inches short of the Dodge Buck. Will the Dodge buck ever be beaten? Who knows if there will ever be a buck in Pennsylvania that will take over the #1 spot!