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BIG BUCK CONTEST

by
Eugene R. Thorn

The West Virginia Big Buck Contest was established in 1964 to recognize sportsmen who bag extraordinarily big antlered bucks. The contest is co-sponsored by the Division of Natural Resources, the Izaak Walton League of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bowhunter’s Association, the West Virginia Muzzleloader’s Association, the Physically Challenged Advisory Board, and Toyota.

The Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young Club scoring systems are used to score bucks depending upon method of kill.  Guidelines for the annual contest are as follows:

  1. The deer must have been checked at an Official Game Checking Station, and the official West Virginia Game Check Tag must be attached to the antlers.
  2. A Fair Chase Affidavit must be signed and attached to the Official Score Sheet.
  3. Field photos of the freshly killed deer with antlers attached must be submitted at the time of scoring for state record entries.
  4. Any bow-killed or crossbow-killed buck that scores at least 125 typical or 155 non-typical, gun-killed or muzzleloader-killed bucks that score at least 140 typical or 165 non-typical must be scored by an Official Scorer approved by the Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett Club.

A review committee was established, by the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, to consider all deer entries to the Big Buck Contest.  The committee has the power to make judgements as to the legitimacy of each entry and to accept or reject any entry in question.  The West Virginia Big Buck Contest Review Committee consists of representatives from the Izaak Walton League of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bowhunter’s Association, the West Virginia Muzzleloader’s Association, the WVDNR’s Wildlife Resources Section and the Law Enforcement Section, and the West Virginia Physically Challenged Advisory Board.

In 2012, 189 hunters had their deer antlers scored at one of the six WVDNR District Offices, Field Offices, or the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show in Charleston (sponsored by the West Virginia Trophy Hunter’s Association). There were nineteen WVDNR Wildlife Biologists and Wildlife Managers distributed throughout the state that are certified by the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs as official scorers.  In the 2012 Big Buck Contest hunters took 88 big bucks (Table 1) with gun, muzzleloader, bow, or crossbow that met the score minimums, the requirements concerning Game Check Tags and Fair Chase Statements, and were not excluded for cause by the Big Buck Contest Review Committee.  An additional 23 bucks from former years were scored that met the requirements for a Big Buck Certificate.

It is noteworthy that an additional fourteen score-sheets that met the minimum score requirements did not have the Game Check Tag verified, or did not have a signed Fair Chase Statement attached.  These are the common reasons why hunter’s bucks are excluded from the contest list and do not receive a Big Buck Certificate.  A good practice is to staple the Game Check Tag to the back of a mounted head so that it is not misplaced.  A hunter may only take their rack to be scored by one Official Scorer.  Score shopping is prohibited by the WV Big Buck Contest and will be dealt with according to Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young guidelines. It is the hunter’s responsibility to work with their official scorer to make sure that all documentation is completed (by the contest deadline of March 15) and sent to the Big Buck Contest Review Committee Chairman.

Twenty-two bucks killed by gun hunters scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical.  In the Typical-Gun category, the winner was Michael Taylor from Jumping Branch, WV with a big 15-point buck killed in Summers County that scored 169 5/8. There was no Non-typical buck taken with the Gun this year that met the minimum score; therefore that category has no winner this year.

One muzzleloader hunter killed a buck that scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical. William Crothers II of Mineral Wells, WV took a huge 14-point Wirt County buck that scored 173 0/8 that won in the Typical-Muzzleloader category. There was no Non-typical buck taken with the muzzleloader this year that met the minimum score; therefore that category has no winner this year.

Bowhunters killed 65 deer that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical.  The winner of the Typical-Bow category was Roger Maynard of Williamson, WV with a whopper 15-point buck from Mingo County that scored 170 1/8. The Non-typical Bow category winner was Daniel Light from Boomer, WV with a monster 17-point buck from Fayette County that scored 195 0/8.  Daniel’s buck took over the #4 position for Non-typical Bow kills in the list that ranks the top five buck scores for all time in West Virginia.

Physically challenged crossbow hunters needed to score above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical to win. There was no typical or non-typical buck taken with the crossbow this year that met the minimum score; therefore, both Crossbow categories have no winner this year.

The 2012 West Virginia Big Buck Contest had significantly less deer brought in to be scored than the last two years, and the number of bucks killed in 2012 that qualified for Big Buck Citations was down with all 4 weapon types from 2011. The gun kill in 2012 that made the Big Buck list still stands out with a total that is double the number taken in 2010. It is obvious that many bucks are living into older age classes in all of West Virginia’s Counties, which is reflected in larger antler size. This good trend is evidenced by the many Counties represented from all over the state in the following listing of bucks (Table 1.). The WV Big Buck Contest Committee would like to congratulate all the hunters who took bucks that qualified for this year’s contest. Thank you to all hunters who participated and had antlers scored this past year!

Table 1.   West Virginia Big Buck Contest 2012 Score Rankings.

WV Big Buck Contest 2012 Score Rankings

Antler Configuration: Typical   Weapon: Gun
Name County Harvest Date  Ranking Score
Michael Taylor Summers 11/20/1212 1 169 5/8
Ryan Ray  Pendleton 11/21/2012 2 166 7/8
Randall Arnold  Calhoun 11/19/2012  3 160 3/8
Jeffrey Walkup II Raleigh 11/25/2012 4 159 2/8
James Gumm    Lincoln 11/20/2012  5 157 3/8
Donnel Keller  Wood 11/21/2012 6 155 4/8
Ray Horrocks Fayette 11/21/2012 7 150 6/8
Eric Frame   Clay 11/22/2012 8 150 3/8
Donald Pratt Hampshire 11/20/2012  9 150 2/8
Scott Hamrick Webster 11/21/2012 10 150 0/8
Don Russell  Tucker 11/22/2012 11 149 6/8
Harry Moore Jr.   Cabell 11/19/2012 12 149 4/8
Chase Trent  Monroe 11/19/2012  13 149 2/8
Theodore Halstead Boone 11/21/2012 14 147 0/8
Joshua Merschat Tucker 11/23/2012 15 146 6/8
Billy Ward     Boone 11/19/2012 16 146 2/8
Katrina Thacker  Lincoln 11/24/2012  17 145 6/8
Phyllip Worley Raleigh 12/01/2012  18 145 3/8
Gregory Hall Wood 11/22/2012 19 143 5/8
Michael Miller  Clay 11/22/2012 20 141 2/8
Jackie Gill  Marion 11/21/2012 21 141 0/8
Joshua Wilt   Nicholas 11/23/2012 22 140 3/8
         
Antler Configuration: Non-Typical  Weapon: Gun
None in 2012        
         
Antler Configuration:  Typical      Weapon:  Muzzleloader
Name County Harvest Date Ranking Score
William Crothers II  Wirt 12/03/2012 1 173 0/8
         
Antler Configuration:  Non-typical    Weapon:  Muzzleloader
None in 2012        
         
Antler Configuration:  Typical Weapon: Bow
Name County Harvest Date Ranking Score
Roger Maynard  Mingo 11/06/1212 1 170 1/8
Kerry Sturgill Mingo 11/22/2012 2 166 6/8
Gregory Surber Mingo 09/29/2012   3 163 6/8
Buck Lambert McDowell 11/25/2012 4 157 1/8
Bobby Frame Braxton 10/30/2012  5 155 1/8
Raymond Snyder  Logan 11/16/2012 6 154 1/8
Charles Mullins Wyoming 11/08/2012 7 154 0/8
Brandon Duncan Logan 11/17/2012 8 152 4/8
Christopher McKinney Wyoming 11/08/2012    9 152 1/8
James Bowen Jr.  Mingo 11/16/2012  10 151 4/8
Ryon Anderson   Harrison 11/15/2012 11 151 3/8
Seth Thompson Wyoming 11/19/2012  12 151 2/8
Michael Fleak   Wirt 09/29/2012    13 150 3/8
Mark Davis Hancock 12/13/2012 14 150 2/8
Jason Hart  Monongalia 11/02/2012 15 149 5/8
Frank McCormick  Logan 11/11/2012  16 149 4/8
Franklin Butler  Summers 11/20/2012  17 147 5/8
Harvey Allen Kanawha 09/17/2012 18 147 2/8
Doug Michael  Monongalia 11/07/2012  19 146 4/8
Darren Pettus  Wood 11/06/2012 20 146 0/8
James Wells  McDowell 11/29/2012 21 145 5/8
Marcus Lambert  Logan 11/15/2012 22 144 0/8
Robert Hall Wyoming 12/18/2012 23 143 6/8
Spike Tenney Upshur 10/06/2012  24 143 2/8
Charles Dunbar  Raleigh 12/09/2012 25 142 2/8
Mark Neace Jr.  Wayne 11/12/2012 26 141 6/8
David Little McDowell 11/09/2012 27 140 3/8
Kevin Otey  McDowell 12/10/2012 28 139 5/8
Lucas Humphreys  Kanawha 11/09/2012 29 138 6/8
Brandon Adkins Wyoming 11/16/2012  30 137 5/8
Michael Fleak Wirt 10/03/2012 31 137 0/8
Richard Phillips  Wyoming 11/09/2012 32 136 3/8
Garland Cline McDowell 11/19/2012 33 135 7/8 
William Branch  Wyoming 10/17/2012    34 135 4/8
Bradley Thacker   Lincoln 10/06/2012 35 135 3/8
Jeff Cooper  McDowell 11/13/2012 36 135 2/8
Chad Tiller Wayne 10/11/2012 37 135 1/8
Travis Young   Ohio 11/17/2012 38 134 7/8
Bueford Shell     Wyoming 11/09/2012 39 134 3/8
Richard Goodman  Logan 09/29/2012 40 134 1/8
Jami Stollins Logan 12/19/2012 41 134 0/8
William Hamon Putnam 11/03/2012 42 133 6/8
Quinn Miller Mingo 11/10/2012 43 133 3/8
Patrick Purdue Kanawha 11/17/2012 44 133 1/8
Charles Bailey Raleigh 11/09/2012 45 132 7/8
Bill Williams   Taylor 11/07/2012 46 132 4/8
Jimmy Way Wyoming 12/15/2012 47 131 7/8
Jeffery Coleman Wyoming 11/17/2012  48* 131 6/8
Daniel Finney Wyoming 12/02/2012 48* 131 6/8
Jamie Lilly Wyoming 11/16/2012 49 130 5/8
Christopher Talbott  Lewis 10/22/2012 50 130 1/8
Chad Barnette   Logan 11/13/2012 51 129 3/8
Kenneth Thacker  Lincoln 11/08/2012  52 128 6/8
Phillip Holsberry   Randolph 09/29/2012  53 127 7/8
 Jerry Williams  Mercer 11/23/2012 54 127 5/8
Joe Willis  Cabell 10/11/2012 55 127 3/8
Clayton Hacker Jackson 11/10/2012 56 127 2/8
Thomas McClure Kanawha 11/02/2012 57 126 4/8
James Bailey McDowell 11/10/2012 58 126 2/8
Ronald Payne Wyoming 11/09/2012  59 126 1/8
Gary Richardson  Mercer 10/01/2012    60 125 5/8
James Tiller   Logan 11/14/2012 61 125 0/8
Same score – * shares ranking           
         
Antler Configuration:  NonTypical   Weapon: Bow
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
Daniel Light  Fayette 11/09/2012  1 195 0/8
Darrin Haynes    McDowell 11/17/2012    2 184 5/8  
Zachary Marcum Logan 10/31/2012 3 158 1/8
         
Antler Configuration:  Typical    Weapon: Crossbow
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
None in 2012        



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