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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, and the Physically Challenged Advisory Board.
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:
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 DNR’s Wildlife Resources Section and the Law Enforcement Section, and a citizen member with an interest in deer hunting.
In 2008, 251 hunters had their deer antlers scored at one of the six DNR District Offices, Field Offices, or the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show in Charleston (sponsored by the West Virginia Trophy Hunter’s Association). There are 14 DNR 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 2008 Big Buck Contest hunters took 78 big bucks (Table 1) with gun, muzzleloader (none this year), 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 35 bucks from former years were scored that met the requirements for a Big Buck Certificate.
It is noteworthy that an additional 5 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 January 31) and sent to the Big Buck Contest Review Committee Chairman.
Nineteen bucks killed by gun hunters scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical. In the Typical-Gun category, the winner was Ronald Myers from Charleston, WV with a 10-point buck killed in Kanawha County that scored 165 6/8. There was a huge 19-point Brooke County buck harvested by Donald Stroud Jr. from Weirton, WV that scored 176 2/8 and won the Non-Typical Gun category.
Muzzleloader 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 muzzleloader this year that met the minimum score; therefore, both Muzzleloader categories have no winner this year.
Bowhunters killed 57 deer that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The winner of the Typical-Bow category was Bobby Kelly of Cumberland, KY with a 10-point buck from Logan County that scored 157 0/8. The Non-Typical Bow category winner was Patrick Donahue of Mallory, WV; Patrick took a big 16-point buck in Logan County that scored 176 1/8.
Two bucks killed by physically challenged crossbow hunters scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The Typical-Crossbow category winner was Don England of Iaeger, WV with an 11-point Wyoming County buck that scored 159 2/8. There was no non-typical buck taken with the crossbow this year that met the minimum score; therefore, the Non-Typical Crossbow category has no winner this year.
The 2008 West Virginia Big Buck Contest had slightly less deer brought in to be scored than last year. The number of bucks killed in 2008 that qualified for Big Buck Citations was up with the gun and crossbow, and down with the bow from last year. As a reminder, last year we added two new weapon categories to the Contest; one to recognize muzzleloader taken bucks, and one for the physically challenged hunters that are using a crossbow with a Class Y Permit to hunt deer. The Big Buck Contest Committee would like to congratulate all the hunters that took bucks that qualified for this year’s contest. Thank you to all hunters who participated and had antlers scored this past year!
West Virginia Big Buck Contest, 2008 (duplicate scores listed first by harvest date then alphabetically by hunter’s last name, and will be ranked the same number).
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