By Dennis Morgan
There are two types of people who live in every community, big or small.
There are the natives and there are the newcomers.
Natives grow up and never leave. Newcomers come from somewhere else and choose to move into a community, most often because of business or job opportunities.
My wife and I came to Elgin approximately eight years ago so we would fall in the ‘newcomers’ category. We made many friends, even more acquaintances and have gotten to know others who come in off the street.
It takes awhile, in some cases a long while, to get to know the stories behind every family. We were reminded of that this past week. The story involved the late Leo Dwyer who recently passed away.
Gerald Moser came into the office Friday and he didn’t stop in to ask about us or the newspaper.
The first words out of his mouth were something like “You should do a story about Leo Dwyer and the mule buck deer he shot years ago.”
Having never heard the story, I asked him for some details. He said back in the 1950s he shot this mule deer and it was a state record.
Knowing the publisher back then, during the 1950s, had published 520 newspapers, narrowing it down would be no simple task, but we set out to find what information we could.
The year was 1959. Dwight Eisenhower was president, Elvis was in the Army and Nebraska football was an afterthought as Bob Devaney had yet to arrive in Lincoln.
What follows is an account of Dwyer’s hunting success story as reported back in 2006 by Joe Duggan of The Lincoln Journal Star.
Rancher Leo Dwyer had hunted deer in Wyoming before, but 1959 was his first deer hunt in Nebraska and he took his 10-year-old son on his Sandhills ranch.
When they came across a group of half-a-dozen big bucks, Dwyer picked out one about 200 yards away and fired with his .308-caliber Winchester Model 88. Later, he sawed the antlers off the skull.
“To be honest with you, I was pretty green and didn’t know what I had or I would have had it mounted,” said Dwyer, now an 83-year-old retired rancher and self-described “city slicker” residing in Elgin, a village of 735.
For decades, the antlers hung on a wall in his house. But in the late 1990s, he shipped them to the Boone and Crockett Club for an official measurement and it now ranks in the top 25 percent of the Boone & Crockett list.
The deer edged out the former Nebraska record buck in the category by 1/8th of an inch, a deer killed by Charles Hogeland of Hayes Center in 1994. Dwyer’s buck had a score of 265 2/8
Several years ago, Dwyer sold the buck to Cabela’s for an undisclosed price and it now rests atop a full-body mount in the Sidney store.
Dwyer still hunts. In fact, he recently returned from an elk hunt in Wyoming during which he tagged a cow.
But he says, “I’m hanging up my guns. I don’t carry my weight around camp anymore.”
Here are the Trophy Stats:
Category — Mule deer – non-typical antlers
Score — 265 2/8
Length of Main Beam — Right: 25 5/8; Left: 24 2/8
Circumference between burr and 1st Point — Right: 6 2/8; Left: 5 6/8
Number of Points — Right: 14; Left 13
Inside Spread — 24 5/8
Other hunters would probably be willing to carry his weight in camp just to hear the story about the record buck he shot almost five decades ago.
Dwyer’s accomplishment was something many hunters dream of, but few ever achieve.
Just as football and wrestling are two important sports here, so, too, is hunting. Dwyer, in his heyday, turned out to have a moment which has stood the test of time.
Everyone was reminded of that fact when they attended his wake service at St. Boniface Catholic Church Wednesday night, seeing the photo among the many memories of his life.
Natives were reminded of his shining moment as a hunter. Newcomers like myself only learned about it second hand.
Elgin has quite the history. Dwyer’s story is just one such story. That’s something you’re not going to find on any fancy website or Facebook page.
By Dennis Morgan