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Zaft buck denied P & Y world-record status

4/28/2005

After more than a year of waiting to see if Wayne Zaft's typical whitetail would ascend to the throne as the Pope & Young Club's new world record, the North American bowhunting community has its answer.

That answer is no following the March 6-8 panel scoring efforts of 21 Pope & Young measurers. While panel scoring was conducted in March, the tightly guarded results were not made public until early this month at the P & Y convention in Madison, Wis.

In the final analysis, the panel ruled that what was previously described by the original scorers as a typical G-3 point on the left side of the buck's rack was actually an abnormal point rather than a normal tine.

That panel decision dropped the final score of the Zaft buck dramatically, according to P & Y executive secretary Glenn Hisey.

"It was obvious that it was mismeasured when it was originally measured," Hisey said. "The third point on the left hand side is clearly an abnormal point and cannot be counted as a normal point as the original measurers did.

"By it being an abnormal point, the score swings a long way," Hisey added. "It ends up being 172 5/8 as a typical and if it was changed over to a non-typical, which would be the hunter's choice, it would score 210 1/8.

"This clearly isn't a perfect deer. It doesn't have long symmetrical points on each side that are balanced in perfect formation."

Still, that's not to take anything away from the Zaft buck, according to Hisey despite the rack's lack of symmetry.

"Not every deer is perfect and not every deer deserves a top score. If it was perfect, it would have received a perfect score."

ESPNOutdoors.com readers might recall that the Zaft buck, harvested on Oct. 8, 2001 near Edmonton, Alberta, was originally given a gross score of slightly more than 222-inches and a net typical mark of 206 7/8-inches.

Those numbers were obtained following a Dec. 7, 2001, scoring session at the conclusion of the mandatory 60-day drying period required by the Pope & Young Club.

Had those numbers been upheld by the panel judges in March, the Zaft buck would had edged out the 1965 P & Y world record typical buck arrowed by Illinois bowhunter Mel Johnson, a benchmark that stands at 204 4/8-inches.

While the Zaft buck had been entered into the Pope & Young records with its lofty-but-pending mark, the buck will apparently not be included in future records, according to Hisey.

"It had been entered, but he (Zaft) chose to remove it from the records," Hisey said. The buck was originally entered in the books April 29, 2002."

"After panel measuring and when we found what it really scored, he (Zaft) thought about it for three weeks or so I guess, and decided to completely withdraw it from our records," Hisey said. "He also at the same time withdrew it from the Boone & Crockett records."

ESPNOutdoors.com was unable to reach Zaft for comment on the Pope & Young Club's decision.

While the Zaft buck will not be listed in future editions of the P & Y or B & C record books, the deer continues to be listed with a 206 7/8-inch score as the No. 1 typical whitetail on the "Alberta Bowhunting Record Book" website.

The Canadian whitetail killed by Zaft also will continue to be listed as a world record in the Buckmasters BTR scoring system, according to the scoring system's founder and executive director, Russell Thornberry.

"It has a score of 205 7/8 and is the world record for a compound bow in the typical antler category," Thornberry said.

In addition to its world record status in the BTR record book, Thornberry said the Zaft buck was honored last year with the group's Golden Laurel Citation, an award given each year to the most impressive entry into the BTR system.

Thornberry claims he was not surprised by the panel's decision regarding the abnormal point.

"I'm not an official Boone & Crockett scorer by choice," Thornberry said. "When I looked at the buck's head for the first time, I told him (Zaft) that they'll murder you on this. I knew it would happen then and they proved me right."

The BTR system's chief scorer said that he disagrees with the P & Y panel decision regarding the ill-fated G-3 point.

"If you look at the deer's rack from the outside, it appears that one point grows from another," Thornberry said. "If you look at it from the inside, it's clearly two acceptable points."

While the Pope & Young Club's scoring panel does not agree that the point is acceptable as a typical tine, the Club apparently does agree that Zaft's story on how he harvested his big whitetail checks out despite some persistent rumors circulating in some hunting circles that have attempted to claim otherwise.

"We also heard some questions about the search and recovery (of the Zaft buck)," Hisey said. "We checked into it in detail and we found that the search (by Zaft) was not abandoned.

"Prior to us accepting it in April 2002, we did a very, very thorough investigation and we had sworn statements from the landowner who found the deer originally prior to it being consumed by coyotes, that is was a bow killed deer and that Zaft had permission to hunt there."

Hisey contends that the Club's investigation also satisfactorily answered any questions raised in the rumor mill regarding the timing of events from when Zaft shot the buck to when the farmer discovered the deer to when Zaft recovered the whitetail.

Meanwhile, another potential world record animal from Alberta — this time a non-typical elk — also fell short of the P & Y benchmark.

ESPNOutdoors.com readers might recall the tale of that big bull elk, a 422 4/8-inch non-typical arrowed last fall by Brent Kuntz.

Those numbers were nearly two inches above the previous P & Y non-typical elk world record mark of 419 5/8-inches, a bull arrowed in Arizona's Coconino County in 1985 by James L. Ludvigson.

But as with the Zaft buck, the Pope & Young Club's final panel score for the big Alberta non-typical elk was somewhat lower than the numbers obtained after the 60-day drying period.

According to Hisey, the final score for the Alberta bull was 414 5/8-inches. Since the scoring of Kuntz bull, a new non-typical elk world record mark has been established. (See sidebar.)