Most hunters would rate the 2015-16 deer season as one to forget. Warm temperatures and an abundant mast crop made for poor deer activity and hunter success.
There were, however, a few good ones killed, and a few of those showed up at the Yamaha Louisiana Sportsman Big Buck Contest held during the Louisiana Sportsman Show in March.
Now keep in mind that the big prize — a Yamaha four wheeler — could be won by any adult who entered a deer rack in the contest. You might think hunters would show up in droves with lots of racks just to get their name in the drawing for the ATV.
The turn-out was fair, and most hunters brought branched antlers to the scoring table; in fact, I don’t think there was one spike entered.
I guess there might be a stigma about winning a prize in a big-buck contest with a little buck.
Generally in a big-buck contest there are a few non-typical bucks brought in for scoring, but this year the non-typical racks were few in number. The largest was an 18-pointer killed by Susie Taylor of Richland, Miss., that scored 185 1/8 B&C.
Taylor killed the buck in Jefferson County, and it will qualify for the Boone and Crockett Recognition Program.
There was also a nice non-typical buck killed with a bow by Andrew Walock of Denham Springs that scored 171 4/8. This buck came from Kansas and will qualify for listing in the Pope & Young All-Time Record book.
The best non-typical buck killed in Louisiana scored 150 7/8 B&C. It was killed in St. Martin Parish and had 14 points.
Typical bucks dominated this year’s contest, with the best one being a 171 5/8 typical killed by Garrett Smith of Denham Springs. This huge 12-pointer was taken in Tensas Parish and will qualify for listing in the B&C All-Time Record Book.
Brody Parker of Woodworth killed a 13-point in Rapides Parish with his bow, and this buck scored 160 5/8 and will qualify for the All-Time Pope & Young Record Book and the Boone & Crockett Three Year Recognition Program.
While Tensas Parish has a reputation for producing trophy bucks, Rapides is not known for producing big bucks.
Avoyelles Parish, which does have the reputation for producing big bucks, was credited with producing three bow-killed bucks that scored 154 typical, 150 1/8 typical and 145 5/8 typical. All three of these bucks qualify for listing in the Pope & Young All-Time Record Book.
There was also a Pope & Young buck from East Carroll Parish that scored 134 5/8. It is evident that we have some serious bow hunters in Louisiana and they are targeting the top-end bucks.
Overall there were 18 Louisiana bucks that qualify for the 2015-16 Louisiana Big Buck Recognition List.
It is interesting to look at the typical scores of the Louisiana and Mississippi deer entered in the contest. Typical scores for gun-killed Mississippi deer ranged from a high of 148 6/8 to a low of 85 5/8. The average typical score for 24 typical Mississippi deer was 113.
A buck that scores 113 B&C is one most people probably would not mount.
For Louisiana, the typical scores ranged from a high of 171 5/8 to a low of 63 3/8, with the average typical score being 118 for 40 deer. Again, a buck that scores 118 B&C is one most people would probably not mount. I would think most hunters would consider mounting a buck that scores 125 or 130.
Much is being made in the Southeast that hunters are now killing more adult bucks — 3 ½-year-old and older deer — than those in the younger age classes. But, while older adult bucks are being harvested, the size of these adults is not that great.
That is probably a clear picture of the habitat conditions in the piney woods across the Southeast. It seems the intensive pine management forest is not the quality habitat adult bucks need to achieve maximum growth and development.
Scores for six bucks harvested in East Feliciana Parish this past season ranged from 78 5/8 to 124 4/8. Again this is a reflection of habitat conditions and, in my opinion, points out that the habitat is lacking in quality forage.
Remembering Dr. Barry Steele
On March 16, the outdoor community lost a good friend with the passing of Dr. Barry Steele.
Barry was an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. He was an anesthesiologist in Baton Rouge who grew up hunting and fishing in Texas and Oklahoma.
He was my good friend and a real brother in Christ who challenged me to study the Word and find the Truth.
He had a servant’s heart. His life was dedicated to helping people with their medical needs, but for him picking and cutting turnips for the local food bank was just as important as the operating room.
He told his children that when they visit a place they should leave it in a better condition than what it was when they got there. We should all have this attitude toward the woods, waters and fields of our Bayou State.
May we always be good stewards of the resources that God has blessed us with.