In the weeks that have passed since Deer & Deer Hunting broke the inside story behind the potential world-record Johnny King Buck, many antler experts have checked in with an opinion on whether or not this deer deserves to be panel-scored.
Everyone, that is, except the largest record-keeping organization from the state where the buck was killed: The Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club.
It appears this will not change. Furthermore, it appears the WBBC is collectively hoping the King Buck will vanish into obscurity even though the disputed buck would easily take over the Badger State’s top spot as a typical if the buck’s original score sheet was submitted for entry into WBBC. As we reported earlier, the buck was initially gross-scored at more than 220 typical inches and netted more than 215 shortly after it was killed in 2006.
A few WBBC members had previously gone on record to state that they believe the buck is a typical 6-by-6 and, hence, stands a good chance at unseating Milo Hanson for the top spot among Boone and Crockett’s all-time record list for typicals. The club itself, however, has remained deafeningly silent.
Over the past two weeks, Deer & Deer Hunting has attempted to contact each of the 13 officers listed on the WBBC directory (four state officers and nine regional directors). We attempted contacting all of them to get their responses to a few simple questions.
Among the questions were:
1. Have you had the opportunity to view the King Buck in person?
2. What are your thoughts on this deer … do you believe it is a typical or nontypical?
After word got out that we were contacting the officers, a WBBC director allegedly contacted the rest of the group and instructed them not to speak with us. What follows are the comments from the directors/officers who did talk with us.
Eli Randall – Chairman, Chicago, Ill. :
“The deer was measured and B&C made its decision as to what it should score. As far as I’m concerned, the right call has been made. Most of the feed-back I’ve received goes against the deer becoming a world record. I think if you were to poll most of the scorers in Wisconsin, more than half would go with B&C’s ruling.
“B&C recently clarified its decision and it remains firm on its call. If anything were to change on it in the future, it would have to come from B&C. Our Club follows B&C guidelines and there would be no reason for us to take any kind of action on this deer unless it was directed by B&C.
“It’s a great deer but the score it was assigned (180 1/8) is about right, so we don’t see this thing as a big controversy. The people who continue to fuel this debate and who are for the deer are the ones who have the most to gain (if the deer’s G-3s were to be declared typical instead of abnormal by a panel of scorers). It’s too bad because these people are ruining hunting. Today, if a guy kills a big deer, he’s all over the Web trying to make money off the deer. Everything’s about money.
“The King Buck has probably gotten a lot more publicity over this controversy than it would have it had been declared a world’s record to start with. The Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club has not made an official statement on this issue and maybe it should. It may in the near future.”
Two WBBC members disagree with Randall’s belief that the deer’s right antler includes an abnormal point. Both of them are the only WBBC members who have actually scored the rack themselves — Herman Feller and Marlin Laidlaw. Another director, Dan Mantz, deferred to Laidlaw’s expertise.
Herman Feller – Vice Chairman, Viroqua, Wis. :
“The article (in Deer & Deer Hunting) pretty much said it all and I’ve told everyone in the Club what I think. I wish things had been done differently from the start. I was at the Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo in 2007 when the deer came in and drew a lot of attention. That’s why I assisted Ron Boucher in scoring the deer when the WB&B Club panel fell apart in October 2010.
“Unfortunately it was just two guys, Ron and me. But we did it the way it should have been done. If there had been three WB&B Club measurers, instead of the two of us, scoring the deer it might have constituted a panel. (Note: Herman and Ron came up with a typical score of 213 6/8, 1/8 inch higher than Milo Hanson’s current world record. A ‘panel’ in Wisconsin can consist of three WB&B measurers.)
“The King Buck never got a fair panel. And for B&C to say you can’t panel a 180 is pure bull. A deer of this magnitude ought to be panel scored. I think the guy (Johnny King) got screwed. If things had been done right in 2007 after the deer was killed, it would have been a world’s record no question. But now after 5 years, the rack has no doubt had some shrinkage.
“I became a measurer and started doing this stuff because I wanted to be an advocate of hunting. I wanted to make a difference. But now, beyond the Johnny King buck, there’s far too much political stuff going on with measuring deer; far too much bull. There’s far too much controversy on how you score certain deer and way too much inconsistency in scoring. I don’t get it. I’d like to see some consistency in the system.
“I’m frustrated about the whole thing. I’m a firm believer in trying to do what’s right and what happened to the King buck is not what’s right. Bottom line: The deer and the hunter are the ones who really got screwed. Hopefully out of all of this controversy, the system will change for the better! That’s what I’d like to see.”
Marlin Laidlaw, Director – Marshfield, Wis.:
“While I had the rack in my possession, I took a series of new photos and measurements that only serve to support my opinion. The G-3 is a typical tine. From all the evidence I’ve been able to gather, it would be much more difficult to call it an abnormal tine.
“When I was analyzing the rack I asked myself, ‘Can I prove that this animal meets the requirement for a typical?’ All of my answers have been, ‘Yes!’ Nowhere in the B&C measurer’s manual can I find anything to indicate this tine is an abnormal point.
“I’ve found that decisions on tines like this are frequently made based on visuals. The right G-3 is shorter than its match on the left side and it’s also slightly smaller in diameter. Visually, it certainly looks different, but looks don’t make it an abnormal point. That’s why I still maintain my original view that none of the points are abnormal.”
Dan Mantz – Director, Slinger, Wis.:
“I haven’t seen the deer in person, but I have heard some of the stories about it. As far as the way it should be scored goes — I’m not an official B&C scorer and I don’t have the credentials to give an opinion one way or the other — but it appears to me that it should be scored as a 12-point main frame typical. It’s a touchy situation and my opinion doesn’t mean a thing so I prefer to stay neutral in the debate.
“I respect Marlin Laidlaw because of his long experience with the club and I would go along with anything he says. Whatever Marlin says is the way it should be. I wouldn’t have a problem at all with seeing the WB&B Club panel score it, but I understand that no one wants to go against B&C.”
Skip Peterson – Director, Arena, Wis.:
Brian Ihlenfeldt, Secretary – Kewaunee, Wis.: