Whitetail.com

Dear Reader,

We received over 500 replies to Larry's initial article Rompola Gate. Some responses suggested that Mitch should be given the benefit of the doubt. In this article Larry expands on the rules for legitimate trophy status.

John Miglautsch
Editor, whitetail.com

 

 

ROMPOLA GATE PART II
The Fairy Tale Continues
By
Larry L. Huffman
July 25, 1999

Mother Goose would have a difficult time competing with Mitch Rompola and his associates on the creation of the biggest fairy tale (scam) to ever hit the hunting world. Most hunting magazines have stopped featuring stories on Rompola. I have spoken with several of the editors and their basic attitude is to simply let the story die.

Unfortunately all hunting magazines did not take this stand. Deer and Deer Hunting featured a two-part story on the Rompola buck and the men who measured the antlers. The principal portion of this two-part story was written by none other than Dan Bertalan, one of Rompola's closest allies.

Bertalan tells of insurmountable odds. He states that there are 11,500,000 deer hunters each year. Seventy-nine years passed from the time Jim Jordan killed his world record buck (1914) till Milo Hanson took a new worlds record buck in 1993. Sure the odds are insurmountable if one plays by the rules. Simply fabricating a set of trophy antlers rather than harvesting one by traditional hunting methods can drastically reduce the odds.

In the June 1999 issue of Deer and Deer Hunting, Editor Patrick Durkin stated in his Editors Stump column that Rompola should be granted the assumption that he is innocent until proven guilty. I reminded Durkin that that assumption is normally used in association with a criminal trial. It doesn't apply to Rompola, as he has not been charged with a crime. Maybe in time, but not right now.

Look at the assumption used by the Boone & Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club. It is the hunter's responsibility to prove that his deer is authentic and that it was harvested in accordance with the club's fair chase standards. All state record keeping associations should also use this same assumption. A trophy deer is bogus until proven real. Hopefully the CBM (Commemorative Bucks of Michigan) will not list Rompola's buck in their records until he takes the steps to prove that it is real.

We all know that Mitch Rompola could clear up the controversy by simply having the antlers x-rayed. X-rays of the skull plate are most important. With all of the controversy surrounding Rompola's buck, I believe that DNA testing and a polygraph test would be in order.

From the very beginning Craig Calderone offered $10,000.00 if Rompola would have the antlers x-rayed. The June 1999 issue of Michigan's Woods-N-Water News reported that the Michigan Big Game Hunter's Association has offered an additional $10,000.00 if Rompola will submit to a polygraph test and permit the antlers to be x-rayed and allow DNA testing. That's $20,000.00 on the table if Rompola will take these steps to prove that the antlers are authentic.

It's quite obvious to this writer that Rompola cannot and will not submit his antlers for testing and x-rays. The antlers are not authentic. In Rompola Gate (part I) I reported many facts that I believe prove that Rompola's buck is a phony. The biggest single fact is the distance between the burrs measuring 50% more than any other whitetail buck ever.

I pointed out in Rompola Gate (part I) how the coloration of the antlers is suspect. The August 1999 issue of Deer and Deer Hunting featured the Rompola buck on its cover. The antlers are now a different color. The antlers have been re-colored. The tines are no longer yellow and the Potassium Permanganate staining that was so obvious is now non-existent. It is also apparent that the cape used for the mount is not the original cape.

Why were the antlers re-colored? Was it because of the suspicious coloration of the original antlers? Was it because of the facts that I called attention to in my first article? It was certainly apparent that Rompola felt there was something wrong with the color and for that reason attempted to cover some of the obvious flaws. Check it out. The antlers have been re-colored. Photographs don't lie.

Photograph of the original Rompola buck.

Notice the yellow tone on the deer's right G2 and G3 as well as the left G3. Also notice the brownish purple stain at the base of each antler and at the base of the main beams between the burrs and the brow tines.

The photograph used on the cover of Deer and Deer Hunting is a dead giveaway that this is a bogus buck. Rompola has now had time to fix all of his mistakes by re-coloring the antlers. The following photo is of the re-colored antlers. Compare it with the photo of the original deer. Again it shows that Rompola had something to hide.

Photo of the new mount with the re-colored antlers

One can clearly see that the antlers have been re-colored from the original. The bases are a different color. The tines now have more of a progression of color. Before there was a distinct line where the color changed from yellow to the brown/purple stain.

It was announced that a panel of CBM measurers had officially re-measured Rompola's buck. The three measurers were (1) Gary Berger, (2) Lee Holbrook and (3) Al Brown. These measurers were not assigned this responsibility by CBM. They were hand picked by Mitch Rompola. Berger is certified by Boone & Crockett, Pope and Young, The Longhunters Society and CBM. Holbrook has been certified by Pope and Young and CBM. Brown is a certified CBM scorer only.

In the August, 1999 issue of North American Whitetail, Len Holbrook admitted that he had been trained by Rompola. Brown also said that Rompola trained him. It is unclear if Rompola trained Gary Berger. Burger stated that he has known Rompola for well over a decade. Rompola video taped the measuring session which meant that he was present throughout. Since these men were students and close friends of Rompola's, you can bet that he plenty of involvement in the actual measuring.

I had reported that the skull plate on Rompola's buck was totally encased in some form of hardened material such as Bondo. It would have been impossible to inspect the skull plate with this material in place. Jack Reneau, Director of Big Game Records for the Boone & Crockett club spoke with Berger shortly after the antlers were measured. Reneau asked Berger if he had inspected the skull plate to which Berger answered no.

In the Deer and Deer Hunting article on the scorers, Berger said that he saw the skull plate. He further reported that he felt it and inspected it and that it was real. Naturally, Berger would not lie to the Boone and Crockett Club and be able to remain an official scorer for them. That would seem to indicate that he lied to Deer and Deer Hunting.

Len Holbrook said that the buck was partially mounted when they scored it. He said that the skin was open up the back so they could inspect it. He said the rack is real. He also said that he inspected the skull plate and there was no evidence of anything wrong. Why are these men lying to the media? Did Rompola have that much control over them? Did the measurers believe they were measuring a real set of antlers? Were the measurers trying to cover up something? Are these three measurers all part of Rompola's scam?

I do not have answers to these questions. I tend to believe that the measurers thought that they were scoring a real set of antlers. The quality of today's antler restoration is so good that I do not believe that these three men could tell the difference. Many other measurers have been fooled in the past. The question as to why these three measurers said they had inspected the skull plate but told Boone & Crockett they had not remains un-answered. The only way to inspect the skull plate is to have it x-rayed. You cannot inspect it by feel or by normal vision.

 This photo shows Mitch Rompola holding the antlers after they had been removed from the deer. You can clearly see how the skull plate has been totally encased in a material similar to Bondo. This picture aired on Nov. 26, 1998 just 13 days after Rompola killed the buck. Do you believe that Rompola had something to hide? Do you think the skull plate could be inspected?

An article by Eric Sharp in the Detroit Free Press dated February 25, 1999 stated that Rompola told him and others "it's all about money". He further said that his primary interest is exploiting the buck's rack financially. Rompola has a number of endorsement deals. I was told that his deal with Custom Shooting Systems, a bow manufacturer, was actually made months before he claimed to have killed the buck. There is a Rompola web site in which "T" shirts and caps are being sold. It appears that Rompola is pursuing certain financial schemes, however lets look at the other side of the ledger.

The easiest money out there is the $20,000.00 on the table if Rompola will have the antlers authenticated by having them x-rayed and take a polygraph test. If it's all about money, why isn't Rompola taking advantage of this offer? The answer is quite simple. He can't because the antlers are not authentic. If he has it x-rayed, his balloon will bust. His scam will be over. There could be charges of fraud filed against Rompola and his associates. Who knows what action the companies who are paying Rompola endorsement fees will pursue.

In Eric Sharps article of April 9, 1999 in the Detroit Free Press, he reported that Kevin Kreh of Hawg Ltd. is having some serious concerns. Kreh said that he has put pressure on Rompola to have the deer measured and entered at least with CBM. Kreh said that he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. He further stated that he stands to loose his creditability, his business, his home and everything he has worked for. If he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as he said, then why hasn't he started legal action against Rompola? Can he prove damage? You bet!

How bad have the other companies with Rompola endorsements suffered from Rompola's refusal to have the antlers authenticated? If Kreh's firm has been damaged financially then I should think that the others have suffered also. It's been said that Dan Bertalan handles public relations for Rompola and these various firms. He has written several articles on Rompola and his buck. Obviously, Bertalan has made out pretty well. Is Dan Bertalan in on the scam with Rompola? What if the companies that Rompola has endorsed were all part of Rompola Gate? Could it be?

Several outdoor writers have stated that no one has offered any proof that Rompola did anything wrong while hunting the buck. They have also said that no one has offered proof that the buck isn't real. These writers must be wearing blinders and ignoring the facts. Some of these facts are so obvious that one cannot help but be suspicious. Let's take a serious look at what we know to be fact. You be the judge as to these facts offering proof of the deer being bogus.

  1. Rompola said that he shot the buck at 12 yards with a bow set at 58 pounds. The arrow did not pass through the deer, in fact there was approximately 18" of arrow still sticking out of its midsection.
  2. Rompola said that after he shot the buck and after a short wait, he went home to get his camera even though he heard the deer go down.
  3. The antlers have very suspicious coloration. The tones change from yellow to brown to white and to a brownish/purple at the bases. In the past, people used Potassium Permanganate for staining antlers. This is the exact color of the antler bases.
  4. The antlers have an outside spread of 38". Knowing this measurement, it is quite simple to calculate the distance between the burrs. This measurement comes out to 4 3/4". Normally this measurement is from 2 3/4" to 3 1/4". This would mean that the distance between the burrs is 1 1/2" wider than any buck ever. It is approximately 50% wider than any other deer.
  5. The original photo of Rompola's buck had considerable blood in the buck's right ear. The buck was lying on its right side.
  6. The skull plate was totally encased in a hardened material. The antlers were shown on Michigan Out Of Doors thirteen days after the buck was harvested. This videotape showed the skull encased as mentioned.
  7. The antlers have been re-colored from suspicious tones in the original photo. The potassium Permanganate staining is gone. Other flaws in the color have been corrected.
  8. One of the three measurers told Boone & Crockett that he was not able to inspect the skull plate. Later the media was told that they did inspect it. Something doesn't match up.
  9. Rompola said "it's all about money," but $20,000.00 has been offered to him for x-rays and a polygraph test. He has refused to have it x-rayed.


These are most of the facts, as we know them today. The most important fact is the distance between the antler burrs. No whitetail buck has ever grown a skull with the distance between the burrs being anything close to this distance.

These facts leave many questions in one's mind. Rather than speculate on these answers, wouldn't it be great to hear Rompola provide the answers. A partial list of questions could be as follows:

  • Why did Rompola encase the skull plate in a hardened material less than two weeks after the deer was shot?
  • Why were the antlers re-colored?
  • What was the source of the blood in the buck's right ear?
  • Why hasn't Rompola captured the $20,000.00 offer for x-rays?
  • Why did the measurers lie about inspecting the skull plate?

Someday we will know the answers to these and other questions. In the mean time the sport of deer hunting is being damaged. Milo Hansen is being damaged. Trophy whitetail deer collectors are being damaged. Scoring systems are being damaged. Trophy whitetail records will never be the same. But as Rompola said, who cares, "it's all about money".

 

* * * *

Whitetail.com

Copyright 1999 Larry Huffman and Whitetail.com