Most of the antlers are simply that - antlers attached to small wooden plaques. A few of the trophies are classic taxidermists' "shoulder mounts."
"We've had a few taxidermists donate the work to mount an especially nice rack," Payne said. "Most of the ones that were already mounted when we confiscated them were home-done mounts and weren't very attractive."
The display makes two major appearances a year, at January's West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, and at July's Chief Logan Hunting and Fishing Expo. "Other [DNR law enforcement] districts will borrow it from time to time for shows in their areas, but for the most part we keep it here in District V," Ransom said.
People who see the exhibit generally have one of two reactions, Payne said.
"One of the first things we get asked is, 'Are they from West Virginia?' because people have a hard time believing the state has places that grow bucks that big," he added. "And then, when they learn they are West Virginia bucks, folks are outraged by the fact that people are killing trophy bucks illegally."
Occasionally that outrage leads to further arrests.
"We get a lot of people saying, 'Well, you got this guy, but I know of this other guy that did thus-and-such," Payne said. "So the exhibit sometimes helps us get leads to other violators."
Killing trophy deer used to carry only minor penalties, but a law passed in 2010 increased the "replacement fees" charged for killing big-antlered whitetails. Poachers convicted of killing trophy bucks are now assessed fees that range between $1,000 and $2,500.
Despite the enhanced penalties, Payne said he and his fellow officers still have no shortage of poaching cases to investigate.
"The bottom line is that poachers don't think they'll get caught," he said. "But at least with the bigger penalties, I don't think we'll be seeing very many repeat offenders."
And those who are caught just might end up seeing their ill-gotten trophies hanging not over a mantelpiece, but on West Virginia's big-antler Wall of Shame.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.