After more than six years of discussions, rulings and much wringing of hands, the famed Johnny King whitetail buck was officially scored by the Boone and Crockett Club on Sept. 24.
And it is not a new world record.
The final measurements, performed at the Boone and Crockett headquarters in Missoula, Mont., delivered a final score of 180 typical points, well short of the 213-5/8 given to the buck killed by Milo Hansen in Biggar, Saskatchewan in 1993.
At question on the King rack was the third tine on the right antler and whether it rose from the main beam -- making it an individual point and therefore typical -- or did it share a common base with another point, making it a non-typical.
In a release, Boone and Crockett said a selected panel determined the tine “arises from the inside edge of the top of the main beam, and also arises partially from the base of an adjoining point, thus establishing it as an abnormal point.”
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"I'm confident that our panel has upheld the historic integrity of our records,” said Eldon Buckner, chairman of Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Big Game Committee. “It's not a world's record, but the King buck is certainly a world-class specimen and another reason to celebrate the conservation work of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources."
The panel scored the buck at 217-5/8 non-typical points. The world record non-typical is 333-7/8.
King killed his 6x6 buck on Nov. 18, 2006, on family property in Grant County in western Wisconsin – using a borrowed, iron-sighted, bolt-action .30-30.
The legend of the buck grew from there.
Soon after recovering the deer, King and his cousin Brad Heisz discovered that the left main beam on the antlers had been struck by a bullet, damaging the beam just below the left brow tine. As soon as the cousins began to examine the rack, the massive buck jerked in a final attempt to run and the beam broke off in Heisz’s hand.
After being told by several people that it was possible that he had a Wisconsin record, King contacted official Boone and Crockett Club measurer John Ramsey. He green-scored the antlers before the required 60-day drying period had elapsed and said they netted more than 215 typical points. Depending on how Boone & Crockett viewed the broken beam, Ramsey said, it could be a state record or even world record.
After a 60-day drying period, Ramsey said the buck’s unofficial gross score was 225-7/8 and following deductions of 7-3/8, the final net was 215-4/8 -- almost 5 points more than the Hanson buck’s world record score.
King then met with Jack Reneau, Boone and Crockett’s director of big game records, who said the deer could be scored with the broken antler but the right tine could not be scored as a typical point.
Buckmasters Trophy Records recognizes the King buck as its world record in the “perfect” category with a gross score of 198-2/8. The Buckmasters full-credit scoring system uses the same measurements as Boone & Crockett, except no inside spread measurement (which in King’s case was 21 3/8 inches) is included in the final score and no deductions are taken for side-to-side differences
Boone and Crockett Club called a special judges panel to make the final determination. The panel consisted of two 2-man teams of senior official measurers who had not seen or scored the rack previously.
According to the Boone and Crockett release, “the teams independently scored the buck using the Boone and Crockett scoring manual plus updated directives and processes outlined in other Club literature. Each team completed a score chart. The teams then resolved any differences and finalized a score.”
With the confirmation of the abnormal, non-typical point during the scoring process, “two of the rack’s tines must be classified as abnormal points resulting in an entry score well below the current world record.”
"There's a lot of process and due diligence, and through it all, it's important to remember the chief reason why we keep records in the first place,” Buckner said. “It's not to aggrandize hunters, rank individual animals or monetize trophies, but to document conservation success.”