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Eugene R. Thorn
The West Virginia Big Buck Certification Program 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:
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 2011, 242 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 2011 Big Buck Contest hunters took 106 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 thirteen 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-eight bucks killed by gun hunters scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical. In the Typical-Gun category, the winner was Jonah Adkins from Branchland, WV with an 11-point buck killed in Lincoln County that scored 163 1/8. The winner this year in the Non-typical Gun category was Brandon Dishner from Athens, WV with a big 19-point buck from Mercer County that scored 165 4/8.
Two muzzleloader hunters killed bucks that scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical. William Fry of Loudonville, OH took a 12-point Ritchie County buck that scored 149 5/8 that was the top of the list 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 73 deer that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The winner of the Typical-Bow category was David Miller of Hurricane, WV with a whopper 12-point buck from Mingo County that scored 171 6/8. David’s buck took over the #4 position for Typical Bow kills in the list that ranks the top five buck scores for all time in West Virginia (Table 2). The Non-typical Bow category winner was Charles Daniel from Hurricane, WV with a big 15-point buck from Cabell County that scored 169 1/8.
Two bucks were killed by physically challenged crossbow hunters that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The Typical-Crossbow category winner was Freddie Houchins of Pineville, WV with a 10-point Wyoming County buck that scored 151 1/8. 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 2011 West Virginia Big Buck Contest had less deer brought in to be scored than last year, however the number of bucks killed in 2011 that qualified for Big Buck Citations was way up from 2010. The muzzleloader and bow trophies were up significantly, but the gun kill in 2011 that made the Big Buck list especially stands out with a total that is almost triple the number brought in last year. It is obvious that more and more bucks are living into older age classes in all of West Virginia’s Counties, which is reflected in larger antler size. The WV 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 2011 Score Rankings.
WV Big Buck Contest 2011 Score Rankings
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