Make no mistake about: The Johnny King Buck got hosed by the Boone and Crockett Club in the panel-scoring of his deer this past Saturday in Montana. It’s time to call spades spades and let the deer hunting community know this was essentially a dog-and-pony show.
By amending their scoring rules many times since the King Buck was killed in 2006, and then thumbing their noses at several fellow club members with 25 years or more experience who spoke out in favor of this deer being a typical 6-by-6, B&C seemed to say this is their club, not America’s and the records are B&C’s, not the people who shot the deer or own the antlers.
There seems to be another message resonating out there: “If you’re a B&C scorer and hope to retain that title, you’d best be a good little chump and nod your head in agreement with everything the club says.”
Don’t take my word for it. Watch the Craig Cousins video if you really care to learn the rules on common bases, shared points — and all sorts of other antler-geek nonsense — that scorers have abided by for decades. Cousins and Ron Boucher have been scoring deer for B&C for a combined 50 years. They were both booted from the club after offering their opinions on the King Buck earlier this year. They deserved so much more for their years of unpaid service to the club.
By booting these men out, B&C might as well also boot the hundreds of deer they’ve scored through the years. After all, they obviously don’t know what they’re doing. Sarcasm noted.
And, while they’re at it, they should also recall the Hanson Buck for another panel score. After all, Boucher served on the world-record panel that crowned that deer king. If he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he surely must have got that score wrong, too.
We sensed something foul was brewing more than three weeks ago when we contacted B&C records director Eldon “Buck” Buckner. We had learned about the pending panel-scoring session and called Buckner to confirm the event, which he did. Antler fans everywhere cheered this news. Once and for all, they thought, as did we, B&C would right this wrong and give the buck its fair due.
The first hint that something fishy might be going on came when I asked Buckner if the media would be allowed to attend the panel-scoring session. He said, “No, this will be a private matter.” He further stated that B&C would release the results in a press release the week after the event.
Dude … seriously? “We’re going to possibly anoint the new No. 1 typical of all time — the highest honor in hunting — and we’re going to tell you the score after the fact?” You’ve got to be kidding. Nope, they were not.
At that point, B&C stopped responding to our calls for interviews and updates.
From then forward, we kept in contact with Johnny King and Jay Fish, owner of the antlers. Both men drove 24 straight hours to Montana from Wisconsin with the antlers in tow on Friday, Sept. 21. Even that day, the men were under the impression they would not know the final score of the panel session until after they drove home to Wisconsin.
Enter Field & Stream. This media giant, which had essentially ignored the story for most of this year, came out guns ablazing on Friday, proclaiming they would have breaking news from Montana on the day of the panel-scoring session. I responded with a Whitetail Wisdom blog post questioning B&C’s intergrity, seeing they essentially told us to not bother showing up in Montana.
Did someone tell the B&C brass about my blog? Not sure, but on Saturday before the panel session, Fish said he was told he could rest assured — despite all the “reports and blogs” — that he would be the first to learn the panel-scoring result.
Fish said that happened. “They called me and Johnny back to a room, where they said they said they scored it as a typical.”
Fish said at that moment he thought justice would prevail. However, he said Buckner continued on that the two G-3s were deemed nontypical, hence bringing the score down to 180.
Fish said they then left the room and, while walking through the B&C visitors center, said an Outdoor Life reporter, who he did not recognize as being a journalist, was the next person who learned of the news.
So much for B&C issuing a press release the next week.
As a journalist, I tip my hat to that reporter for getting the scoop. At that same, however, I must question B&C’s motives and protocol, especially considering the fact that they gave Field & Stream (F&S and OL are owned by the same company and share offices in New York) exclusive photos of the panel-scoring session. Interesting.
This story is not a case of Johnny King and Jay Fish being spoil-sports complaining they lost the game. This story is about a kid (B&C) moving the foul pole so many times that his long fly ball is finally deemed foul and not a game winning home run. And it’s about that same kid running out to get the ball and going home. We will provide more details on that later this week here on deeranddeerhunting.com.
At the end of the day, most of the people watching the game unfold are so indifferent about the outcome that they simply don’t care one way or the other. That’s not fair to the losers, nor is it fair to this deer and deer hunting’s history in North America.
But, then again, I guess life really isn’t fair.