Thousands of big bucks get killed every year. Hundreds on hundreds of some incredible bucks, in fact. But few make waves in the hunting community and get remembered for years and years to come.
One of the most famous, or more accurately described, notoriously infamous whitetails ever harvested was the Rompola Buck. And harvested might not be the correct use of word for this buck, but we will get into the later. For some reason I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was one of the first “hunting stories” to really catch my attention.
I was about 6 years old and I vividly remember one evening when my dad was in his hunting room cleaning guns. In his gun case laid a bunch of hunting magazines. The one on top was one that had a huge and unique buck plastered on the cover. The rack on the buck and the face of the hunter seemed to stand out more than I had ever recalled on a deer hunting image.
The picture has been burned in my mind ever since. The buck just didn’t look like any other deer you had ever seen before.
I was showing some genuine interest in the sport of hunting at that time, but I remember this buck and the story behind it sparking my attention much more than any other whitetail had after my dad described what the story entailed.
To set the story, take a few minutes and watch this video.
As you can see, Mitch Rompola knows how to kill big deer; he has many to prove it. Many record book-caliber deer are on his wall, and his knowledge and trophies show that he knows how to get it done with a bow.
Now that you know the pedigree of Mitch Rompola and his ability to get on giant whitetails, we can get into the buck that is quite possibly the most controversial deer of all time…the “The Rompola Buck.”
It was November 13th of 1998, when Rompola released an arrow on what would “allegedly” be the new world record that would surpass Milo Hansen’s buck. The buck was reported at a net typical score of 218 5/8″ and had an outside spread of 38 inches. With that score, the buck would have at the time beat the current world record typical buck by an even 5 inches.
Milo Hanson’s world record typical buck officially scored 213 5/8″. It was harvested in November of 1993. The Rompola buck was re-scored later at 216 5/8″.
Rompola said he had hunted the deer for three years prior to killing it, and also stated that he had actually missed the deer about a week before. When he shot the deer, he knew it was a good shot, but he elected to go home and get the video camera. He preceded to then record the recovery, and this is reportedly that footage below.
But this is when the story gets extremely weird. Without extreme details or formatted opinions based off stuff I have read, I want to share the information I have read and heard, then let you make a decision.
After some time and investigation, the buck was deemed a hoax, and has not been seriously looked into since.
Many of those that were skeptical of the kill had many ideas about what had happened. The arrow placement in the video was scrutinized when compared to pictures, the skull plate was never examined after reports that it was fabricated, and Rompola denied getting x-rays on the deer’s rack. Discoloration of the rack, with the burrs of the antlers being over and inch and half wider than the average of current and past record holders, raised suspicion.
The drooping ears in the pictures were also a huge point of emphasis for the doubters. The only possible ways a deer’s ears would droop like that was because a fake skull plate and rack were put in place for the original. That is what many claimed, and I was always uncertain myself about what might have actually happened.
These things, along with the fact that Rompola practically disappeared without fighting the allegations, were enough for people to point fingers and yell scam. And quite frankly, it makes sense.
But a part of me wants to believe the deer could have actually been legit and it could actually be the record. But why would Rompola not come forth to prove he was right? It is all so strange. Simply put, we may never know, and the deer will never be considered the record.
It is impossible to find more than vague, opinionated details, and I’m not claiming one side of the argument is any better than the other. I really just find the story incredibly fascinating, and I have for almost 20 years now. Why has this not been dove into more? Why have people not sought more answers? Why does this not get talked about?
I highly encourage you to look around and try to make a judgement based off what limited information you can find. And trust me, there isn’t much out there on the scandal. It is amazingly strange that you cannot find more photos of the buck itself, as well as the mount, or the photos that Mitch “allegedly” had before he shot the buck.
I would love nothing more than to sit down with Mitch and hear his story of this infamous buck and hunt. What a conversation that would be!
Ultimately, I just wanted to hear what people’s thoughts are on this whole matter. The Rompola Buck will always hold a special place in my mind. That magazine cover that instantly fascinated me so many years ago…the most controversial buck of all time, the Rompola Buck.