It’s an epic story of sibling infighting, bitter family disagreements, prolonged court hearings, incarceration, twists, turns and high-finance judgments—and it all pivoted around an unusually massive trophy deer.
It was not any deer. It was the largest non-typical mule deer ever recorded by a hunter in North America, with 43 scorable points.
And now, with the passing of the man who occupied the focal point of the conflict earlier this month, the saga of The Broder Buck has finally come to an end—albeit a melancholy one.
My report on the unusual and tragic details surrounding the disappearance, sale and subsequent judgment on the Broder Buck first appeared as a news item in the August 2004 issue of North American Hunter. Earlier that year, Don Broder, then 75, of Sundre, Alberta, was jailed for refusing to reveal what he’d done with the Boone and Crockett World Record non-typical mule deer (scoring 355-2/8) killed by his father, Edmund, in 1926.
The elder Broder died in 1968 without a will. While dividing their father’s possessions in 1973, son Don Broder acquired the mount from his brother Richard. Years later, in 1997, published photographs and articles about the trophy sparked a renewed and widespread interest in the deer, resulting in a 7-year family battle and court case involving Don Broder and his six siblings.
In March of 2004, Madam Justice Myra Bielby of the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled the estate of the late Edmund Broder was entitled to the trophy. She subsequently ordered Don Broder to relinquish it to be sold, with the proceeds to be divided among the family members. Claiming he had promised his father on his deathbed that the antlers would never be sold, Don Broder refused and was jailed in contempt. After 11 days behind bars, Broder admitted that he couldn’t hand over the antlers because he sold them for $171,000 to a Montana collector in 2003.
Two months later, the case took another odd twist when Justice Bielby ruled that Don Broder did not have the right to sell his father’s deer head, and she ordered it to be auctioned to the highest bidder, with the proceeds to be equally divided among surviving family members. During those proceedings, the attorney for the Broder siblings announced that the collector who originally purchased the deer from Don Broder indicated he was interested in paying an additional amount in order to retain ownership of the trophy.
When court convened July 13, 2004, the judge accepted the high bid of $225,000 from the American collector (whose name was never publicly revealed), and slapped Don Broder with a fine of $53,000 to cover the court costs incurred by his family members throughout the course of the convoluted case.
Since then, the Broder family remained bitterly divided, until Don Broder’s death by natural causes on April 11 at the age of 82. His son Craig said his father blamed the justice system, and not his siblings, for the turmoil and anguish they experienced over the deer-mount controversy.
“I feel sad some days about the deer head, about what it did to the family and how it did it,” Craig Broder told the "Calgary Herald" this week. “As sad as it is, there was no need for the fight. Had it been done properly at the beginning, there would have been no fight.”
The Story Behind The Broder Buck
In November of 1926, Ed Broder and Philip Mohr packed Ed’s 1914 Model-T Ford touring car with a 3-week supply of hunting gear and provisions and headed west out of Edmonton, Alberta, to the settlement of McKay near Chip Lake. According to accounts, during the first week Ed shot a black bear. At the start of the second week, with a foot of fresh snow, Ed was tracking a moose when he found a large deer track that he decided to follow. When he spotted the deer browsing at 100 yards, he aimed his .32 cal. Winchester Special and dropped the buck.
Broder proudly displayed his trophy in his home for 36 years when someone suggested he should have it officially scored in 1962.
Boone and Crockett Score: 355 2/8
Location: Chip Lake, Alberta
Hunter: Ed Broder
Length of main beam: Right: 26 2/8; Left: 26 1/8
Inside spread: 22 1/8
Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right: 5; Left: 4 7/8
Number of points: Right: 22; Left: 21
(Source: Boone and Crockett Club)