Mitch Rompola, the Michigan man who claims to have killed a new world record buck, seems determined to do everything wrong.
Through a friend, Rompola announced last week on the Internet that his trophy has been scored and, indeed, would qualify as a new world record typical whitetail. He says the big 12-pointer with a 38-inch spread scores 218 5/8, about five inches better than Milo Hansen's current world record taken in Saskatchewan in 1993.
However, Rompola did not reveal the names of the scorers and refuses to discuss the matter further.
Rick Hatton, the friend who posted the announcement for Rompola on a deer hunting forum, told the Detroit Free Press, "Mitch asked me not to speak to the press anymore. I think he probably just needs a break from all the publicity. I'm just his friend, and my phone is ringing off the hook. Imagine what it must be like for him."
Rompola, described as an eccentric loner, reportedly killed the buck with a bow and arrow Nov. 13 near his hometown of Traverse City, Mich., but his curious behavior after the kill became known touched off a debate among deer hunters that gets hotter day by day. Scoring the antlers in secrecy only adds fuel to the fire.
The 60-day drying period for the Rompola buck ended Jan. 13. But according to the Free Press, an illness in Rompola's own family and an illness in the family of an official scorer may have delayed measuring the rack.
Even if the rack now has been scored in Michigan, it will not be accepted as a world record until it is measured again by scorers representing the Boone & Crockett Club, the official keeper of big game records.
A Boone & Crockett spokesman said the antlers will probably also be X-rayed to prove they belong to that particular deer. Boone & Crockett only scores big game trophies every three years, and the next meeting is not scheduled until the summer of 2001. The spokesman said Boone & Crockett has had no contact with Rompola.
Rompola was alone when he killed the deer, thus there are no witnesses. He showed the animal to only a few people. Although he is said to be a strict observer of game laws, some local hunters suspect all is not right with the magnificent buck.
Interest was so high at one point, the story of the Rompola buck was the most popular item on the Detroit Free Press Web site, getting 177,031 hits in a 30-day period. Two months after it first appeared, the newspaper still has a picture of Rompola and the deer on its Web site: www.detroitfreepress.com/sports/outdoors.
Although there's a lot of money to be made if he has truly slain a world record whitetail, it won't be forthcoming unless Rompola sets the record straight.
He didn't show up earlier this month for a weekend sports show in Columbus, Ohio, where he was to represent two companies whose products he endorses. A representative of one of the manufacturers said Rompola couldn't attend because he was involved in litigation with his sister over their late father's estate.
The Free Press reported a person at the Columbus show who claimed to be a representative of Rompola passed out a statement saying the full story of the Rompola buck is for sale and written offers would be accepted.
Who'll start the bidding?
Covey Bean can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Archive ID: 750082