Is Boone and Crockett really trying to keep the Hanson buck at the top?
This November will mark the 25th anniversary of Saskatchewan farmer Milo Hanson using a .308 Winchester rifle to down the current reigning Boone and Crockett typical world record whitetail outside of Biggar.
With all the monster whitetails that have fallen in the years since, who would've though this buck would sit atop the record books this long? Hanson's 213-5/8-inch Canada monster has faced numerous challengers over the years and has come out on top every time.
We've noticed an interesting phenomenon because of this. There are a number of hunters who are utterly convinced there is a conspiracy within Boone and Crockett to keep the Hanson buck at the top of the record books. For today's #WhitetailWednesday, we're going to look at that possibility in depth.
The controversy begins
I first started noticing whitetail hunters talking about a conspiracy in the wake of the Johnny King buck. For those unfamiliar, in November of 2006, Wisconsin hunter Johnny King shot an absolute beast of a buck on opening morning of rifle season in Grant County, Wisconsin.
The monster 12-pointer grossed in the 220s and netted over 215 inches when it was first taped by a Boone and Crockett official. Everyone assumed the King buck would be the next world-record whitetail.
But when the buck went before a Boone and Crockett club panel in Pennsylvania, everything changed. The panel ruled the buck's G3 tine was non-typical where it branched off the main beam. The result was devastating. That meant the G3 on the other side was now non-typical, too. This led to deductions that knocked the buck's score down to 180 1/8.
The news rocked the whitetail world. Milo Hanson kept his place as the current world-record holder and Boone and Crockett conspiracy theories began.
Bad judgement in scoring
To be fair, I can see where some of the Hanson buck conspiracies come from. See the Stephen Jansen buck from Alberta or the Bruce Ewen buck from Saskatchewan for comparison.
Both the Jansen and Ewen bucks are arguably more on the non-typical side than the King buck. They even appear to have similar G3 issues. If you were to line the Jansen, Ewen and King bucks up and ask deer hunters which was the typical that scored the highest, I'd be willing to bet nine out of 10 would pick the King buck. But the Jansen and Ewen bucks are in the record books. And, both those big bucks are in the vaunted 200-inch typical whitetail club. The King buck is not.
Does that mean Boone and Crockett scorers are protecting the Hanson buck? Not necessarily. But it shows how they really dropped the ball when it came to the King buck. In a May 2011 article in Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, it's described how King drove the buck over 1,000 miles away to Pennsylvania to have it panel scored. When he got there, Boone and Crockett executive secretary Jack Reneau told him the buck's G3 was non-typical and that he would have to take it back home to be re-scored with the G3 points counting as non-typical. Talk about a gut punch!
From every article I've ever read on the King buck, it seems the decision came down to one man in Reneau. When you hear something like that, it is not surprising many deer hunters are suspicious of B&C's motivations.
At the very least, B&C should've called in other top scorers to examine the rack thoroughly before dropping a verdict like that. A ruling like this shouldn't have been the result of a single examination of the buck and it certainly shouldn't have been the decision of one man.
At a minimum, they should've brought in multiple top scorers. A ruling by a group would bring much less controversy. A world-record buck shouldn't be taken lightly.
I also think the ruling shows a major flaw in B&C's rules. The fact that Pope and Young has similar rules and went through a near-identical fiasco with the Wayne Zaft buck seems to prove that. At some point, the rules got too complicated and now we don't even know what a typical whitetail is anymore!
What's the motivation?
I've heard many hunters say Milo Hanson is still on top because "it's all about the money," but I don't believe it. Boone and Crockett is a nonprofit organization. The only one making money from the Hanson buck is Milo Hanson.
Even then, the money isn't as much as you'd think. Hanson told Outdoor Life in 2008 that he made $600,000 in 10 years off the deer. That's a huge amount of money, but not as much as many hunters suspected. Again, this is money Hanson made. It doesn't affect B&C in any way.
This is my primary problem with these conspiracies. Boone and Crockett heavily played up Stephen Tucker breaking the record for a hunter-killed non-typical two years ago. You can bet they'd enjoy the publicity a new typical whitetail would bring.
Sure, I know Milo Hanson would love to stay at the top of the deer hunting record books forever, but there's no motivation in a record-keeping organization protecting him. They simply screwed up and they won't ever admit it.
Record-keeping organizations slacking
All this controversy underscores why many hunters don't even enter their deer in the books. Some just don't want all the trouble that comes with it. Can you blame them after reading what happened to Johnny King or Wayne Zaft?
The world-record typical whitetail is arguably the most prestigious and sought-after big-game record out there. A new one shouldn't be crowned easily or without multiple examinations and scoring sessions.
Records are there for people to break them. Historic organizations like Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young owe it to us as hunters to examine controversies like this from every angle and make sure they're giving every world-class buck a fair shake. If anyone from B&C and P&Y is reading this, get it right next time or you'll be hearing a lot more of these conspiracies in the future.