These bucks are still being debated.
A record-sized buck just doesn’t come along every day. And when it comes to the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young scoring systems, determining a new record can be quite controversial. Just one broken tine or abnormal point can be the difference between a world record and a buck that doesn’t even qualify for the book.
For today’s #WhitetailWednesday, here are four of the biggest what-if bucks in whitetail hunting history. These four deer each missed out on being a world-record typical, often in controversial fashion.
The Zaft Buck
Widely regarded as one of the most magnificent typical bucks ever shot, rumors abounded in 2001 that Wayne Zaft’s Alberta 13-pointer would dethrone Mel Johnson’s bowhunting typical world record.
The first time the buck was scored, it gross scored 222 and netted 206 7/8, which would have beaten the Johnson buck by over 2 inches. But there was a problem: the buck’s left G-3. When the buck was finally panel-scored, Boone and Crockett ruled the point was actually non-typical.
The result was devastating. The ruling meant deductions knocked the buck’s score all the way down to 172 5/8 typical or 210 1/8 non-typical. At least one person saw the ruling coming and that was Buckmasters Scoring System scorer Russell Thornberry.
“When I looked at the buck’s head for the first time, I told him (Zaft) that they’ll murder you on this,” he told ESPN shortly after the ruling. “I knew it would happen then and they proved me right.”
Even though the buck still qualified for both books, Zaft was apparently so upset, he completely withdrew the buck from both Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young. Hunters are still debating whether or not Zaft’s buck should rightfully be the number one typical bow kill.
The Rompola Buck
I know, I know…why bring up this buck again? But don’t you just wonder what could’ve been? I’ve already gone over in great detail why I think the buck was real, so I won’t say too much about it here.
However, I suspect the truth probably won’t be known unless one of two things happens. One, someone shoots a bigger buck than Milo Hanson’s world record and Rompola can finally come forward via the terms of the agreement he signed with Hanson. The only other way I could see this buck being verified as real is if Rompola passes away and his family comes forward with proof the alleged 218 5/8 buck was real the whole time.
But to be honest, I think it’s much more likely we never learn the truth of this story at all and it remains a hunting legend for the ages.
The Johnny King Buck
The case of the Johnny King buck is, amazingly, almost a mirror image of the Wayne Zaft buck fiasco. In November 2006, Johnny King shot an absolute monster of a 12-pointer many believed was a serious contender to Milo Hanson’s world record.
Initially, the controversy of whether the buck would be allowed into the record books was centered on an antler that broke after being struck by a bullet. Boone and Crockett later ruled scoring with the break was acceptable, but attention soon turned to the G3 on the buck’s right side, just like the Zaft buck.
Boone and Crockett ruled the controversial point was non-typical, and when they finally scored the buck, the point knocked the score down to 180 inches. You can see more of the point in question and why at least one scorer thinks the buck got a bum deal in the video above.
Having not one, but two bucks denied the world record in near-identical fashion in a five-year period is pretty bizarre. Both bucks have been so controversial, some hunters believe B&C was purposely protecting the Hanson buck’s record.
In researching this article, I actually came across a Facebook page that seems to indicate King and the buck’s owner Jay Fish are still fighting Boone and Crockett on this issue as recently as last November. Make of that what you will.
The Wayne Bills buck
The Wayne Bills buck is one of the biggest question marks in whitetail hunting history.
Wayne Bills shot this awesome buck, his first ever, on a deer drive in Iowa back in 1974. The awesome buck scores 201 4/8 inches, but the controversy here is whether this buck was a world record at one time. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. The buck broke his left brow tine. Some have estimated the buck could’ve lost almost 4 or more inches because that tine, which would have put it neck-and-neck with James Jordan’s 206 1/8 buck that was the world record at the time.
However, it might not have mattered much even if it hadn’t broken the tine, because the buck wasn’t actually scored by Boone and Crockett until 1992. Some also believe this exceptionally long drying period may have cost the buck a few extra inches as the rack shrank over the years.
As large as it is, the Bills buck is still relatively obscure in whitetail history. One has to wonder if Wayne Bills would’ve been as much of a household name as James Jordan had all the pieces fallen into place for this buck to hold the record for nearly 20 years.