Almost 11 years have passed since Johnny King, of Mt. Horeb, Wis., killed a monstrous white-tailed deer now known by many in the hunting world as “The King Buck.”
The massive buck — that caused some antler-scoring groups to change the way they officially scored whitetails — is still recognized by the Northeast Big Buck Club as the largest gross scoring typical whitetail of all-time, from any state or province.
King, mainly a meat hunter, shot the deer while hunting in Grant County, Wisconsin, with a .30-30 Savage rifle that had once belonged to his dad. At the time, King didn’t know much about scoring antlers, and only because he was prompted by a couple of family members did he take the head to an official Boone and Crockett measurer to be scored.
By Keri Butt
Little did Johnny King know the road that lay ahead of him and the deer was anything but smooth. It was downright jagged.
The center of the controversy revolves around the right G3, which the Boone and Crockett Club labeled as an abnormal point, meaning the deer could be scored as a non-typical, or as typical taking deductions for the abnormal points, thus lowering the overall score by close to 40 inches.
Supporters of the King Buck, including Jay Fish, the antler collector who purchased the rack from King, firmly believe the rack is a clean 6×6 typical and immediately began questioning B&C’s decision.
But, it wasn’t until the spring of 2012 that the debate became extraordinarily heated when two longtime and dedicated B&C measurers, Ron Boucher of Vermont and Craig Cousins of Wisconsin, were dismissed without warning. Both men had voiced their opinions that they considered the buck to be undoubtedly typical. Since then, several elite officials from B&C have responded by publicly chastising those closest to the King Buck on numerous occasions.
NBBC President Jeff Brown said that since Buckmasters had scored the King Buck as a typical 6×6 in 2007, and B&C has scored the buck as a 5×5 typical with two abnormal points, the NBBC rules deemed they could not simply enter the deer based on a previous score sheet. (NBBC rules allow previously scored bucks that have been accepted by B&C, P&Y, or Buckmasters to be entered to their records without rescoring.)
So, the NBBC made the decision to panel score the King Buck.
“We followed our club policies, including convening a panel of experienced scorers,” Brown said. “We held a very open scoring session that was attended by many experienced scorers from many different organizations. After many hours of intense discussion, our panel determined the buck to be a 6×6 typical and finalized the NBBC entry score.
“There was nothing easy about our final decision or determination, but I can attest that it was a fair, transparent and consistent application of our rules. And in the end, I believe that is all that Johnny King, Jay Fish, and everyone else involved in this process have asked for.”
Here are the Northeast Big Buck Club’s final measurements on the Johnny King Buck:
King was one of the last hunters of the evening to be introduced at the NBBC banquet on July 20, where he graciously accepted an award for the largest typical buck ever scored by the NBBC.
“They put on a great event and I had a great time,” King said. “Everyone I met was really nice. The cool thing was that everyone who received an award for the buck they shot was made to feel like they were important and that their deer was an animal to be proud of, no matter if it scored 120 inches or 220 inches.”
While he was on the stage, the story of the King Buck was told to the room, but it wasn’t the tale of the controversy; just the story of how the “King Buck” came to be.
“We wanted to focus on what is right,” Brown said. “And what is right when it comes to this monstrous and incredible whitetail is simple: this is an astonishingly incredible whitetail that deserves our attention, and possibly even our reverence. And no scoring decision should ever change that.”
* The NBBC is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, organized in 1996. They have scored more than 10,000 whitetails, most of which are from the northeastern U.S.
* The NBBC uses the B&C scoring system to produce a gross score and a net score, but it ranks their bucks by gross typical and gross non-typical scores, by state and by harvest weapon. The NBBC pioneered this gross score ranking concept in 1996.
* The NBBC holds an awards banquet and ceremony each year to recognize the largest bucks killed by bow, gun and muzzleloader in each northeastern state (including all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey). In addition, bucks from states outside of the Northeast are recognized, as well as new records recently entered but killed in previous years are recognized as well.
* King’s buck was entered in the “Other States” category (basically any state or province outside of the Northeast) and was recognized as the club’s largest gross scoring typical of all-time, from any state or province.