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.
ROMPOLA GATE PART II
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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".
Copyright 1999 Larry Huffman and Whitetail.com