On November 1, 2018 Luke Brewster, a thirty-year old former United States Marine, set out on a journey that would change his life and shock the whitetail deer world. The journey began with a 10-hour drive from his home in Virginia to Edgar County, Illinois. Non-stop rain did not dampen his spirit, quell his excitement or change his focus. He knew a true giant roamed his hunting property and he was anxious to get there and join his buddies in the hunt for a buck they had named Mufasa.
Who Is Luke Brewster?
Luke Brewster is a young man who began hunting after his military service to his country. As a boy he learned to fish from his father. Lakes, streams, ponds, it didn’t matter. Fishing was his passion. His father hunted deer with a muzzleloader, but Luke was consumed with fishing.
In 2009, Luke joined the Marine Corp. Two tours in Afghanistan as a Marine followed by a year in the war torn country as a private contractor shaped young Luke into the man he is today. After his service to his country, he longed to return to his roots and the serenity of the outdoors. To quell the thirst he returned to the lakes and streams he fished as a boy.
When winter made fishing impractical, he borrowed his father’s .270 Remington and went deer hunting with a friend. The peace and serenity of hunting was addicting and soon he was looking for ways to increase his hunting opportunities and time in the field. He picked up his first bow and began learning the skills necessary to be a successful archer and never looked back. He was addicted to the sport of bow hunting.
Luke’s father had inherited 40 acres in Edgar County, Illinois. The land was leased to a farmer who invited Luke to come to Illinois and hunt big bucks. Luke accepted the invitation in 2015 and made his first trip west. There he met the farmer who introduced Luke to his sons and sons-in-law. “These guys took me right in,” said Brewster. “They had a lot more experience than I did so I learned a lot from them. They helped me learn my 40 acres and opened the door to all the property they hunted. We quickly became friends and I felt like one of the guys.”
Brewster is quick to give credit for his success to his friends in Illinois. “Justin and Brent Clearlock, Josh Barrett, and Ron Wagoner “live and breathe bow hunting.”
These guys do all the heavy lifting like stand place - ment, food plots and trail cameras. Edgar county is one big food plot and where we hunt is no different. I was lucky enough to have a giant deer walk by me, but these guys are responsible for that.”
The name “Mufasa” comes from the movie The Lion King. In the movie, Mufasa, was a mature Afri - can male lion who was the mate of Sarabi and they parented a son, Simba. The storyline of the movie revolves around Mufasa teaching Simba how to be a monarch and understand the circle of life.
In 2014, Brewster’s hunting buddies in Edgar County, Illinois, began noticing a buck that often appeared on their trail cameras. That year he was just an impressive young buck that was granted a pass by the hunters. The following year that same buck was still roaming their hunting property but had made signifi - cant progress towards making their shoot list.
“We are pretty selective about what we shoot on the property. I was made aware of this up-and-comer that year and I’m not sure I would have passed him if given the chance. Maybe the other guys felt that way, too, but nobody had to make that choice. We never saw him during daylight but someone in our group called him Mufasa, for king of the jungle. The name stuck,” said Brewster.
In 2016, Mufasa blew into a no-brainer shooter. He had the mass, the length and width that put him on everyone’s shoot list. Also, that year he sported several kicker points. Again, we never saw him during shooting hours.
“By 2017 he had grown into a true trophy buck. We all hunted him in hopes of putting our tag on him. In November of that year Justin Clearlock, had a chance to do just that, but an unseen branch deflected the arrow, resulting in a clean miss. We never saw him again that year,” said Brewster.
The New World Record Whitetail
When Luke Brewster reached Edgar County, Illinois for his November, 2018 hunt, the weather had cleared and he was anxious to climb into a stand. He met with his hunting buddies and stands were chosen for the morning hunt. At mid-morning they met at a small cafe for lunch and made plans for the afternoon hunt.
Everyone wanted to hunt stands in and near the area where trail cameras took the most recent photos of Mufasa. “I wanted to hunt the area where we all thought Mufasa lived, but the Illinois guys did all the heavy lifting on our property - stands, plots, everything. I had no problem with them choosing stands before me. When it was settled, there was no spot for another hunter in that area. They told me about a stand that had not been hunted for several years but the wind should be good for that location,” said Brewster.
He continued, “At 12 noon, November 2, I climbed into that stand. I admit I had low expectations. I sat for four hours and was getting pretty discouraged when I caught movement in the timber. Two does were approaching my stand through a thicket. I noticed they seemed nervous so I used my binoculars to try and locate a buck behind them. After a short time I lowered my binoculars and there he was! Thirty yards away,” said Brewster.
From that point everything was a blur according to Brewster. He does recall the emotions of seeing this giant buck at close range and the emotions after the shot. “My first impression was this is Mufasa! Then I thought the arrow had hit the buck in the shoulder and did not get good penetration. I watched as he ran towards and disappeared into a shallow creek. I had to sit down and let the adrenaline subside,” said Brewster.
Brewster forced himself to sit in his stand 30 minutes before getting down to check for blood. When he found the fletching end of his arrow he realized penetration was not a problem. The blood on the ground was encouraging so he took up the trail. He followed the sign to where the buck had disappeared into the small creek and stopped to look before he crossed. Thirty yards away lay the biggest buck he had ever seen.
“I knew it was Mufasa when I took the shot. I just tried to focus on making a good shot and staying calm. When I saw his antlers sticking above the brush I lost it! I sent a text to my buddies telling them Mufasa was down. When I put my hands on his rack I was blown away. I knew he was big but he was ridiculous! My emotions went from all-out jubilation to sadness. I felt sorry for my buddies because they had hunted this deer too! The hunt for this deer was what we talked about and the glue that held us together. I was sad because I knew it was the end of an era.”
I asked Brewster how his buddies accepted the news. “They were happy for me, but I could see heartbreak in their eyes. They lived and breathed this buck, and so did I. They just had a lot more effort invested in him. They are as much a part of this as I am.”
Brewster’s buck was officially scored in February, 2019. He netted an astounding 327 7/8 inches and is officially the world record free-ranging, non-typical whitetail buck taken by a hunter. There are two non-typical bucks in the record book, one from Missouri and one from Ohio, that outscore Mufasa but they were not killed by a hunter. Naturally, the doubters came out of the woodwork and accusations of the deer being killed in an enclosure arose. Jeff and David Lindsay, hosts of “The Lindsay Way” television show and world class hunters, came to Brewster’s defense. They gave Brewster advice, support and helped him through the turmoil.
Mufasa was 7½ years old when he was harvested. He was not put on scales so we don’t know his weight. On that fatal day he appeared at a stand that had not been hunted in several years and was shot by a hunter who did not have a lot of hunting experience.
It was not apparent this buck had non-typical traits until he was 4 years old. His rack featured 14 points on the right beam and 25 on the left. Of these points, 22 were abnormal points that total 186 4/8 inches. His right beam measures 27 4/8 inches and the left measures 24 1/8 inches in length. Tip to tip spread is 14 6/8 inches with a greatest spread of 30 4/8 inches. The inside spread is 20 1/8 inches.
Every deer hunter who has put on a pair of boots has an image of a dream buck in his or her mind. It’s the fuel that makes us get up and go day after day. That dream buck is the legend and lore of deer hunting. I doubt very many of us have the imagination or creativity to conjure up a buck like Mufasa. To see him mounted on a pedestal is awe-inspiring. I can’t imagine seeing him on the hoof in a hunting situation. Luke Brewster and his friends knew they were hunting a giant in Edgar County, Illinois but they had no idea he was a potential world record buck.
Five men after one buck is not often a good thing. In spite of this, these five men worked together, hunted together and celebrated together when Mufasa was taken. Naturally, there was disappointment for those who did not kill Mufasa, but pride for the humble man who did. Through it all they remain friends, support each other and are making plans for another deer season and to improve their land for the deer they love to hunt.
In reality, they know the chances of ever having another buck like Mufasa to hunt are slim-to-none, but that has not dampened their spirits. They know their land is capable of producing giant whitetail bucks and Mufasa’s genetics are in the herd they manage. They believe they can improve their odds of growing healthy deer. Another giant like Mufasa is possible if they do their part by wisely managing their land and the deer that live on it. There are more bucks on their land that have made their “shoot list” and they are excited about a new season. They sound like GameKeepers to me!