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The West Virginia Big Buck Certification Program was established in 1964 to recognize hunters who bag extraordinarily big antlered bucks. Although the contest was discontinued in 2013, the West Virginia Division continues to score deer as part of their Big Buck Certification Program.  This program 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 certification program 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.  Beginning in 2015, deer must be electronically registered and the DNR issued game tag number shall be written on a tag and 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.

In 2014, 153 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 are 18 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.  During the 2014 hunting season, 26 big bucks (Table 1) were harvested with gun, muzzleloader, bow, or crossbow that met the score minimums and the requirements concerning Game Check Tags and Fair Chase Statements.  An additional 19 bucks from former years were scored that met the requirements for a Big Buck Certificate.  A new state record was set by Chad Scyphers.  Mr. Scyphers harvested a typical buck in McDowell County with a bow that scored 188 7/8.

It is noteworthy that an additional 11 scoresheets 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 certification list and do not receive a Big Buck Certificate.  A good practice is to staple the Game Check Tag (beginning in 2015 to record the DNR issued game tag number) on 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 Certification Program 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 and sent to the Big Buck Certification Program Coordinator, preferably by March 15 following the year when the animal was harvested.

The WV Big Buck Certification Program Coordinator would like to congratulate all the hunters who took bucks that qualified for a certificate this year. In addition, thank you to all hunters who participated and had antlers scored this past year!

Table 1.   West Virginia Big Buck Contest 2014 Score Rankings.

WV Big Buck Certification Program 2014 Score Rankings
Antler Configuration: Typical   Weapon:  Gun
Name County Harvest Date Ranking Score
Chad Shephard   Tyler 11/26/2014 1 155 2/8
Walter Stark  Fayette 11/25/2014 2 154 4/8
Jacob Cales  Raleigh 11/27/2014 3 150 0/8
Carsel Woods Nicholas 11/24/2014  4 148 1/8
Charles Williams Nicholas 12/5/2014  5 147 1/8
Antler Configuration:  Non-Typical Weapon:  Gun
Name County Harvest Date Ranking Score
Timothy Nibert  Fayette 11/28/2014 1 200 5/8
Antler Configuration:  Typical Weapon:  Muzzleloader
None in 2014            
Antler Configuration:  Non-Typical  Weapon:  Muzzleloader
None in 2014        
Antler Configuration:   Typical   Weapon:  Bow
Name County Harvest Date Ranking Score
*Chad Scyphers  McDowell 11/18/2014  1 188 7/8
Trace Butcher   Logan 10/30/2014 2 154 0/8
Brandon Toney  Lincoln 11/10/2014 3 149 6/8
Jamus Stephenson  Kanawha 10/18/2014 4 145 1/8
Darren Belcher   Logan 10/22/2014 5 143 6/8
Alex Giambanco   Wyoming 11/14/2014 6 142 3/8
John E. Kinnaird   Mason 11/15/2014 7 141 7/8
Jacob Miller   Logan 12/10/2014 8 141 4/8
Michael Sloan Ritchie 11/8/2014 9 141 3/8
Justin Heiss  Kanawha 11/03/2014 10 137 6/8
Andrew Gillenwater Kanawha 11/01/2014   11 137 5/8
Alex Burrell  Wyoming 11/11/2014  12 137 0/8
Derik Johnson Nicholas 11/6/2014 13 135 6/8
Jack Oliver II  Marion 11/6/2014  14 134 5/8
Quinn Miller  Mingo 11/24/2014   15 133 4/8
Chad Dickerson   Kanawha 11/10/2014   16 130 5/8
Dustin Beckett  Putnam 9/27/2014  17 130 4/8
Thomas Escue  Mason 11/06/2014  18 129 2/8
Larry Finney  Wyoming 12/8/2014 19 126 6/8
Billy Wilkerson III  Kanawha 11/15/2014  20 126 0/8
*New state record      
Antler Configuration:    Non-Typical  Weapon:  Bow
None in 2014         
Antler Configuration:  Typical  Weapon:  Crossbow
None in 2014        
Antler Configuration:  Non-Typical Weapon:  Crossbow
None in 2014        

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