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Big Buck Certification Program

Eugene R. Thorn

The West Virginia Big Buck 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 DNR’s Wildlife Resources Section and the Law Enforcement Section, and the West Virginia Physically Challenged Advisory Board.

In 2010, 290 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 eight 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 2010 Big Buck Contest hunters took 64 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 11 bucks from former years were scored that met the requirements for a Big Buck Certificate.

It is noteworthy that an additional nine 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.

Twelve bucks killed by gun hunters scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical.  In the Typical-Gun category, the winner was Jeffery Whitman from Hurricane, WV with a 10-point buck killed in Ritchie County that scored 157 7/8.  There were no entries this year in the Non-typical Gun category; therefore, the Non-Typical Gun category has no winner this year.

Muzzleloader hunters needed to score above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical to win.

There were no entries this year in the Typical and Non-typical Muzzleloader category; therefore, there were no winners this year.

Bowhunters killed 52 deer that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The winner of the Typical-Bow category was Bucky Sargent of Blair, WV with an 11-point buck from Logan County that scored 163 6/8. There was no non-typical buck taken with the bow this year that met the minimum score; therefore, the Non-Typical Bow category has no winner this year.

Two buck killed by physically challenged crossbow hunters scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The Typical-Crossbow category winner was Carl Pate of Williamstown, WV with a 16-point Wood County buck that scored 149 3/8.  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.

There was an omission in last year’s WV Big Buck Contest results due to paperwork that was lost in the mail by the US Postal Service – Fred G. Crawford took a buck with the bow in Jefferson County on 11/16/2009 that scored 136 2/8 typical. Fred’s buck should have been 31st place in the 2009 Bow Typical list. Congratulations to Fred for the fine buck he had scored.

The 2010 West Virginia Big Buck Contest had more deer brought in to be scored than last year. The number of bucks killed in 2010 that qualified for Big Buck Citations was down a few entries with the gun and bow, and up one entry with the crossbow from last year. As a reminder, three years ago 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!

Table 1.   West Virginia Big Buck Contest 2010 Score Rankings.

2010 Big Buck Contest Score Rankings

Antler Configuration: Typical  Weapon: Gun
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
Jeffery Whitman Ritchie 11/22/2010 1 157  7/8
Minas Stravakis Boone 11/22/2010 2 156  4/8
Barry Meadows Webster 11/22/2010 3 150  7/8
Jeffrey McNeely Wayne 11/07/2010 4 149  2/8
Mike Davis  Kanawha 11/22/2010 5 148  4/8
George Shell Mason 11/22/2010 6 147  1/8
Sam Weikle  Monroe 11/23/2010 7 144  6/8
Cyrus Stovall Mercer 11/22/2010 8 144  2/8
Bradley Bolyard   Preston 11/24/2010 9 143  5/8
Donald Williams  Fayette 11/24/2010 10 142  3/8
Cole McCourt Randolph 11/22/2010 11 142  1/8
Antler Configuration: Non-Typical                                
Weapon: Gun
None in 2010        
Antler Configuration:  Typical                                        
Weapon:  Muzzleloader

None in 2010

Antler Configuration:  Non-typical                                 
Weapon:  Muzzleloader
None in 2010        
Antler Configuration:  Typical      Weapon: Bow
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
Bucky Sargent Logan 11/28/2010 1 163  6/8
William Long Kanawha 10/19/2010 2 162  4/8
Shawn McKeever Monongalia 10/29/2010  3 161  5/8
Mark Roberts Marshall 10/30/2010 4 156  1/8
Curtis Dixon Fayette 11/03/2010 5 154  2/8
Christopher Sparks Wyoming 11/13/2010 5 154  2/8
Kevin Bryant Logan 11/11/2010  7 152  5/8
Jason Gautier  Wyoming 11/22/2010 8 150  2/8
Rodney Cook Wyoming 11/12/2010 9 149  7/8
Justin Offutt Jackson 11/06/2010 10 149 2/8
Robert Cooper  Wyoming 12/07/2010 11 149  1/8
Kevin Higginbotham Putnam 11/22/2010 12 146  4/8
Adrian Fillhart Preston 11/20/2010 13 146  1/8
Justin Layfield Lewis 11/10/2010 14 144  6/8
James Bowen Jr.  Mingo 11/07/2010 15 141  2/8
Lena Shell  McDowell 11/13/2010 16 140  1/8
Witten Osborne McDowell 10/30/2010  17 139  3/8
Steven Shumate Kanawha 10/21/2010 18 139  1/8
Billy R.Parsons  Nicholas 10/29/2010 19 138  6/8
David Brogan II Lincoln 11/14/2010 20 138  3/8
Michael Johnson  McDowell 12/29/2010 21 138  1/8
Harry Garrett  Mercer 10/23/2010 22 136  7/8
Mark Barney Mason 11/08/2010 22 136  7/8
David Williams Kanawha 10/21/2010 24 136  4/8
Jonathan Vernon Kanawha 10/26/2010 25 134  0/8
Brandon Rexroad Harrison 11/12/2010 26 133  6/8
Donald Cook Wyoming 11/14/2010 27 133  1/8
Joshua Peters Boone 11/11/2010 28 132  6/8
Dustin Hollen Lewis 10/28/2010 29 132  4/8
Scotty Slater  Kanawha 11/19/2010 30 132  2/8
Nicholas Christian  Mingo 12/11/2010 31 132  0/8
Travis Chambers Roane 10/26/2010 32 131  6/8
Jonathan Jones  Tucker 11/11/2010 33 131  4/8
Danny Reed Wyoming 11/10/2010 34 131  2/8
Jimmy Dillon Jr. McDowell 11/12/2010 35 130  7/8
Ronald Cook  Wyoming 11/07/2010 36 130  0/8
Fred Chaffin Jr. McDowell 11/22/2010  37 129  7/8
Samuel Mills   Wyoming 11/12/2010 38 129  4/8
Jody Lambert  McDowell 11/25/2010 39 129  2/8
Duane Surface Wyoming 11/11/2010 40 128  7/8
Jonathan Melhorn Jackson 10/16/2010  41 128  6/8
Mark Bias Kanawha 11/09/2010 41 128  6/8
Allen Bratcher Wyoming 11/18/2010 43 128  4/8
Ezra Zuspan  Mason 10/22/2010 44 128  2/8
Brian Utt  Logan 10/29/2010 45 128  0/8
Don Radcliff Kanawha 11/15/2010 46 127  7/8
Larry Kade Jr.    Mercer 11/13/2010 47 127  6/8
Frank E. Canfield Jr.  Jackson 10/27/2010 48 127  5/8
Larry K. Rockel  Mingo 10/30/2010 49 127  1/8
Richard R. Glass Wyoming 11/02/2010 50 125  6/8
Michael Wagner Putnam 11/17/2010 51 125  2/8

Mark Hatfield 

Logan 11/07/2010  52 125  1/8
Antler Configuration:  NonTypical                                  Weapon: Bow
None for 2010        
Antler Configuration:  Typical       Weapon: Crossbow
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
Carl Pate   Wood 11/15/10  1 149  3/8
Antler Configuration:  Non-typical      Weapon:  Crossbow
Name County Harvest Ranking Score
None in 2010        

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