June 01, 2011
King Buck Controversy: The World-Record Whitetail That Isn’t
By Scott Bestul
In case you missed it, Deer & Deer Hunting magazine recently broke a story about a huge Wisconsin whitetail that many feel should be the new Boone & Crockett (B&C) world record typical, and internet chat rooms have been buzzing ever since. To read the DDH story, click here.
The buck, a monster 12-pointer, was shot by Wisconsin hunter Johnny King in November of 2006. Shortly after killing the buck (and before the required 60-day drying period), King had a B&C measurer from Wisconsin look at the deer. That measurer felt the King buck could possibly net above the current world record buck, shot by Saskatchewan hunter Milo Hansen in 1993. But the measurer wanted King to get a ruling on the buck’s main beam, which had been shot during the hunt and broken upon recovery. King drove the buck to Pennsylvania the following spring, where B&C records chairman Jack Reneau was attending a scoring session. There, Reneau (and three other scorers) ruled the break was acceptable, but also informed King that the G3 on the buck’s right side was an abnormal point. This decision knocked the buck from a 6X6 down to a 5X5 with two hefty deductions.
King returned to Wisconsin and had the buck scored after the required 60-day drying period. The scorer, acting under instructions from Reneau to count the G3 as an abnormal point, came up with a net score of 180-1/4”, far below the 213-plus inches it would take to take the top B&C typical honors.
Much of the flap concerning this buck occurred when scorers who have disagreed with Reneau’s ruling requested that B&C “panel-score” the deer by a group of measurers; standard procedure only when an already-measured trophy places it in the Top 10 animals in a category, or is a potential world record. Reneau has refused, noting that a 180” whitetail comes nowhere near that classification and cannot achieve that status with the abnormal G3. These disgruntled measurers, as well as a growing number of internet posters, claim that Jack Reneau has a personal bias against the deer (or the hunter), and suggest that there is some attempt at a cover-up that would allow the King Buck to achieve its rightful status as a world record. I remain unconvinced. For starters, the list of bucks that coulda-woulda-shoulda been high-scoring typicals—but were denied because of abnormal points—is long and will only grow longer. You can love or hate the high standards that typical racks are held to under the B&C rules, but the system is theirs.
Second, it would be one thing if Reneau’s instructing an official scorer how he must measure a certain tine were a breach of B&C protocol, but it’s not. Veteran scorers that I know say it happens all the time. Scorers routinely check in with him whenever they encounter a potentially-abnormal point or difficult rack. Photos are sent in, notes are checked, and Reneau looks at all the information. He then makes a decision, and the decision stands. Reneau is the ultimate judge in what can be some very difficult calls, and every B&C scorer knows this.
And finally, Reneau has been painted as the lone judge on the King buck, but that’s simply not the case. Four senior B&C measurers confirmed his ruling on the G3; Reneau is simply taking the heat. In response to the growing controversy over this ruling, B&C has issued this response.
Regardless of the outcome of this situation, the King buck remains an incredible specimen and a tremendous trophy. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any updates about this situation and post any breaking news.