September 23, 2012
King Buck Special Coverage: Q&A With B&C Records Committee Chairman Eldon “Buck” Buckner
By Scott Bestul
Shortly after the King Buck was panel scored yesterday, I was able to interview Buck Buckner, the man responsible for assembling the B&C special scoring panel that measured the Johnny King buck. After a long day at Boone & Crockett headquarters in Missoula, Montana, Buckner called me as he drove to the airport. I’d already learned that the panel had determined that the King Buck was not the new world record typical.
F&S: So the King Buck will not replace the Hansen buck. What did it come down to?
Buckner: The panel determined that the 3rd point on the right side was an abnormal point and had to be deducted. This automatically makes the matching 3rd point on the left side abnormal, too, which then also had to be deducted from the score.
F&S: From my understanding of B&C procedure, assembling this panel fell outside the normal protocol. Why did you choose to do it?
Buckner: It was not normal protocol. First, though the buck had been officially measured before, that score was not entered in our record book. In fact, the Records Committee was not unanimous in their decision to approve the panel. Eventually, a combination of factors—media criticism and the opinions of some scorers—led us to believe that no one would be satisfied unless we took that step, so a panel was approved.
F&S: Obviously this deer has received a lot of attention, and B&C has endured its share of criticism and scrutiny. What steps did you take to insure that the King Buck would get a fair look by the panel?
Buckner: I feel like I bent over backward to select four highly qualified measurers who had no opinion, bias or previous involvement with this buck. In fact, two of them had never even heard of the King Buck. Because of some of the accusations against, and criticism of, Jack Reneau, he was not involved in any step of the process.
F&S: Who was on the panel, and did you weigh in as they scored?
Buckner: I did not participate in the scoring. The panel consisted of Fred King, from Bozeman, Montana; Paul Webster, from Wayzata, Minnesota; Larry Cary, from Spokane, Washington; and Victor Clark, from Reno, Nevada. All are veteran, highly respected measurers. They were separated into two, two-man teams. The only instruction I gave them was to score the rack according to our rule book and their judgement.
F&S: I understand that Jay Fish (who owns the antlers), and Johnny King (the hunter) were in Missoula.
Buckner: That’s correct. They were not in the room as the deer was measured, but I met with them shortly afterward. I informed them of the buck’s final net scores and where those scores would stand in both the state rankings and overall (The King buck’s typical score would rank it 78th among Wisconsin typicals and 964th overall. It also makes B&C as a non-typical—which is rare—that measures 217-5/8 inches; that score would place it 39th for Wisconsin and 964 overall).
F&S: Were they content with the final measurement?
Buckner: They disagreed with it. So I showed them some other bucks in the record books that had similar antler configurations and how the net score of those deer were affected.
F&S: Will the King buck be entered into B&C as a result of the panel score?
Buckner: According to them, no. Before they left with the rack, they claimed we were inconsistent in our procedures and that we had not heard the last of this yet.
F&S: Since they don’t accept the panel score, what recourse do they have?
Buckner: From our perspective, none.