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Opinion: King Buck Got Hosed

OPINION BLOG

King Buck panel scoring session

Johnny King shot his deer in 2006. The construction worker sold the rack three years later to antler collector Jay Fish because the efforts to fight for justice were taking a toll on King and his family. (Deer & Deer Hunting photo by Dan Schmidt)

by Daniel E. Schmidt

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.

8 thoughts on “Opinion: King Buck Got Hosed

  1. engr76vt

    @Scona248
    Then how do you reconcile that TWO long-time B&C scorers declared that the G3′s should be scored as typical ?????? One high-ranking official at B&C created this mess and in trying to save face created an even bigger firestorm. B&C circled the wagons and then in an attempt to quell the rising clamor, put on a dog & pony show hoping that the rest of the hunting world was “dumb” enough to believe that they had a sudden change of heart. They had their minds made up before they went in the room. This is not about Johnny King or Jay Fish. This is about a deer getting the recoginition it deserves. Sounds like B&C is being run by a group much akin to the Chicago gansta’ in the White House.

  2. Onelongshot

    When any group or organization allows select individuals to become self-empowered and politics overrule guidelines and standards, you are left with one of two options. You can clean house, replacing directors while establishing clear, objective standards or, you can simply abandon the organization and start anew.

    B&C has amended its scoring system numerous times in the past 5-6 years, changes made to selectively support the opinions of a few, not for the sake of clarification or objectivity. Individuals, respected scorers, were dismissed because they had the audacity to disagree.

    The unfortunate reality is American hunters cannot assert themselves, demand change and mandate for objective standards and a democratic system. The “B&C club” is controlled and manipulated by a select few.

    Sportsman deserve better. A new club complete with objective standards, guidelines and rules can and should be established. Each state should have elected officials, officials who’s responsibility would be voting in a management board to oversee and enforce club standards and policies. Board members with term limits to ensure politics and power do not undermine the clubs goal; a respected society who’s goal is to recognize and honor sportsmen and women for their achievements in the field.

    I’d be delighted to contribute a few dollars a year to become a member of this kind of club. We spend far more on a single box of bullets or shells every outing. A national club organized and run by members could give a boost to the sport we cherish and have the potential to gain appeal from our next generation.

  3. Scona248

    Dave,

    Yes, other bucks are going to slip through the cracks. Since a 170″ or 180″ or 190″ buck do not make a panel scoring session, it is completely a judgement call of the one individual scorer that puts the tape to the rack. If at that point he/she determines it to be typical point, it will not get a second look. When a buck is being toted as a new world record it is going to be picked apart by a lot more than one individual scorer. It will be picked apart by the entire world. The point is non typical, a panel of 4 very experienced measurers made the same call that Jack Reneau pointed out almost 6 years ago. Its not hypocrisy, it’s regulation and a microscope on the rack. I seem to remember another buck in world record contention that had the exact same call made against it during panel scoring (Zaft). The King buck never needed to go there because it was seen by a very senior measurers when it was being determined whether or not the broken main beam was an issue. If B&C wanted to make a conspiracy against the buck, they would have said it couldn’t be scored for that reason.

    If we slip this buck through the cracks as a clean typical, how many other bucks will have to be re-scored and put in the books. Where do we draw the line next. Is a buck with 2 symmetrical drop tines (one on the left and one on the right) a clean typical because they are the same shape, length and location on the rack? What about dual split brow tines?

    This really is whining and crying on behalf of the parties that are set to make the most money if the King buck was declared a typical.

    Congrats to Johnny King on his beautiful deer. I would be happy to have it on my wall as a 180″ or a world record, but I would be happier with it as a properly scored 180″ than a 215″ raught with scandal and pressure from the outside to make it a world record because some other guys deer had a similar point and it was scored typical.

    It’s a NON-TYPICAL POINT…PERIOD! Always was, always will be. It’s time everyone learned to deal with that fact and moved on. A new record will come one day, but it will be a legitimate typical deer and the deer hunting world will be better off to wait for that day and that deer and I only hope it does not turn into a money grabbing shenanigan.

  4. Dave

    Scona248 – True, the B&C panel made their decision. Dan and his staff are pointing out the hypocrisy behind it. They have illustrated time and again how other racks with far more questionable tines have been scored as typical. They would do the same for any rack, from anywhere. Why? because it is the right thing to do. That’s not “shotty journalism”, it’s investigative journalism-period.

  5. Scona248

    B&C panel scored it, declared it to not be a world record due to a non-typical “G3″ on the right beam, deal with it. I fully agree with B&C on their call, I called it a non typical point when I saw the first pictures that were released years ago. It’s this shotty, whiny, one sided journalism D&DH throws into the mix that is the reason it is looked at as the TABLOID OF THE DEER HUNTING WORLD. Get over yourselves, you’re just bitching because you probably had first dibs on the story rights if it was declared a world record, just like Jay Fish is bitching because he can’t make any money off the rack now. Boo hoo hoo! Grow up!

    Friggin Rompola buck circus with this publication all over again.

  6. Dave

    Great job reporting this Dan. Your opinions and conclusions are dead on. B&C stacked the deck and changed the rules to save face. Wouldn’t it be interesting to re-measure some top B&C bucks to see what they score under the new rules? Maybe the real B&C antler geeks are on strike and these are the replacement antler geeks. This call is as bad as the one on Monday night.

  7. BenHunting

    Nice job, Dan (and Staff), for your “no bull” coverage of this strange story that seems to have been going on forever. B&C certainly has tarnished their reputation over this fiasco.

    Keep up the great work!

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