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Eugene R. Thorn
The West Virginia Big Buck Contest was established in 1964 to recognize sportsmen who bag extraordinarily big antlered bucks. The contest is co-sponsored by the Division of Natural Resources, the Izaak Walton League of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bowhunter’s Association, the West Virginia Muzzleloader’s Association, the Physically Challenged Advisory Board, and Toyota.
The Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young Club scoring systems are used to score bucks depending upon method of kill. Guidelines for the annual contest are as follows:
A review committee was established, by the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, to consider all deer entries to the Big Buck Contest. The committee has the power to make judgements as to the legitimacy of each entry and to accept or reject any entry in question. The West Virginia Big Buck Contest Review Committee consists of representatives from the Izaak Walton League of West Virginia, the West Virginia Bowhunter’s Association, the West Virginia Muzzleloader’s Association, the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Section and the Law Enforcement Section, and the West Virginia Physically Challenged Advisory Board.
In 2009, 260 hunters had their deer antlers scored at one of the six DNR District Offices, Field Offices, or the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show in Charleston (sponsored by the West Virginia Trophy Hunter’s Association). There are eight DNR Wildlife Biologists and Wildlife Managers distributed throughout the state that are certified by the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs as official scorers. In the 2009 Big Buck Contest hunters took 80 big bucks (Table 1) with gun, muzzleloader (none this year), bow, or crossbow that met the score minimums, the requirements concerning Game Check Tags and Fair Chase Statements, and were not excluded for cause by the Big Buck Contest Review Committee. An additional 22 bucks from former years were scored that met the requirements for a Big Buck Certificate.
It is noteworthy that an additional sixteen score-sheets that met the minimum score requirements did not have the Game Check Tag verified, or did not have a signed Fair Chase Statement attached. These are the common reasons why hunter’s bucks are excluded from the contest list and do not receive a Big Buck Certificate. A good practice is to staple the Game Check Tag to the back of a mounted head so that it is not misplaced. A hunter may only take their rack to be scored by one Official Scorer. Score shopping is prohibited by the WV Big Buck Contest and will be dealt with according to Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young guidelines. It is the hunter’s responsibility to work with their official scorer to make sure that all documentation is completed (by the contest deadline of January 31) and sent to the Big Buck Contest Review Committee Chairman.
Twelve bucks killed by gun hunters scored above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical. In the Typical-Gun category, the winner was Kenneth Carpenter from Streetsboro, OH with a 12-point buck killed in Kanawha County that scored 163 7/8. There were no entries this year in the Non-typical Gun category; therefore, the Non-Typical Gun category has no winner this year.
Muzzleloader hunters needed to score above 140 points typical or 165 points non-typical to win. There was no Typical or Non-typical buck taken with the muzzleloader this year that met the minimum score; therefore, both Muzzleloader categories have no winner this year.
Bowhunters killed 67 deer that scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The winner of the Typical-Bow category was Jason Kerns of Shepherdsville, KY with a 14-point buck from Logan County that scored 162 3/8. The No-typical Bow category winner was Howard Powell III of Parkersburg, WV; Howard took a huge 23-point buck in Wood County that scored 193 1/8. Howard’s buck took over the #4 position for Non-typical Bow kills in the list that ranks the top five buck scores in that category for all time in West Virginia (Table 2).
One buck killed by a physically challenged crossbow hunter scored above 125 points typical or 155 points non-typical. The Typical-Crossbow category winner was Bobby Grose of Rock, WV with a 9-point Mercer County buck that scored 131 3/8. There was no non-typical buck taken with the crossbow this year that met the minimum score; therefore, the Non-Typical Crossbow category has no winner this year.
The 2009 West Virginia Big Buck Contest had slightly more deer brought in to be scored than last year. The number of bucks killed in 2009 that qualified for Big Buck Citations was down with the gun and crossbow, and up with the bow from last year. As a reminder, two years ago we added two new weapon categories to the Contest; one to recognize muzzleloader taken bucks, and one for the physically challenged hunters that are using a crossbow with a Class Y Permit to hunt deer. The Big Buck Contest Committee would like to congratulate all the hunters that took bucks that qualified for this year’s contest. Thank you to all hunters who participated and had antlers scored this past year!
Table 1. West Virginia Big Buck Contest 2009 Score Rankings.
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