The Louisiana Sportsman Show and Festival was shut down early as part of Louisiana’s attempts to cease all social activities to try and keep the coronavirus from spreading, and as such, the show’s Big Buck Contest ended the second night of the show, with 27 entries, the quality of the racks being excellent.
In the Louisiana Gun category, Jerry Denman led the competition with his 162 2/8 monster from Red River Parish. Vincent Chauvin Jr. of Bogalusa killed a state-record crossbow buck on the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. At 123 5/8, it would probably have been the best Louisiana crossbow buck in the contest had it continued all four days. Riley Pontiff of Gonzales led the way in the Youth category with a 133 2/8 buck killed in Washington Parish.
Some huge out-of-state bucks were entered in the Crossbow category: Carl Holland of Livingston will make the Boone & Crockett Club’s Recognition Program with a 164 1/8 typical, and Lonnie Adams of Thibodaux killed a 158 2/8 buck in Illinois.
Andy Dupre of Baton Rouge, Jack Uhle Sr. of Saint Francisville and Keith Russell of Baton Rouge all killed Louisiana bucks that will be listed in the 2019-20 State Recognition Program. Russell’s buck scored 154 and was harvested in West Feliciana Parish.
The highest scoring deer that had been entered was a 191 7/8 non-typical rack from Kansas. Eric Garon of Walker killed this deer with his bow on Nov. 1. This probably was going to be the best out of state bow kill. The deer will not only make the Pope & Young record book but will qualify for the Boone & Crockett Recognition Program.
Deer entered in the contest were scored by official Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young scorers, and net scores — with deductions for lack of symmetry, even on non-typical racks — used for comparison. Most big-buck contests in Louisiana judge deer based on the gross score with no deductions taken.
The contest provides biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries with good information about the state’s deer herd. If the habitat is providing adequate nutrition, and the deer herd is in balance with the habitat, growth and development should be good. While trophy hunting is often frowned upon, a whitetail buck that qualifies for trophy listing is a very good indicator of a sound deer management program.
Deer in the contest were scored as typical or non-typical. A typical score of 160 and a non-typical score of 185 are the scores used to determine winners in the categories. This has proven to be a good system over the years since it is difficult to compare the two different rack formations with each other.
In Louisiana, Areas 1 and 6 are generally known as the big-buck regions, mainly due to the intense agriculture and rich bottomland hardwood habitat. These areas have a late breeding season, January and February, and generally, there are quality deer killed in those parishes. However, January weather was very warm and wet, which may have had an impact on deer movement and hunter success. Two days into the show and big-buck contest, no deer from Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee or Concordia parishes had been entered — maybe a reflection on the season, the contest closing or the coronavirus pandemic keeping people away.