Get your buck ready for the Louisiana Sportsman Show

Whew, what a wall of horns! The big-buck contest at the Louisiana Sportsman Show draws plenty of impressive trophies.

The Louisiana Sportsman Show is around the corner, and it is time to get your buck ready for all to see. Who knows? It might be the biggest one there.

The Big Buck Contest is always one of the highlights of the annual Louisiana Sportsman Show in Gonzales, scheduled for March 12-15. It’s time for hunters to see what the buck crop of 2019 looks like, and from what I have heard and seen, the season was a good one.

All bucks killed during the 2019-20 season are eligible for the contest, big or small. Generally, a nice prize is awarded by drawing for anyone who enters a buck, so just by entering a spike, you could walk away a winner.

Prizes will be awarded to winners of each category, including Louisiana gun and bow, out-of-state gun and bow, primitive weapon (black powder or crossbow), youth and Mississippi gun and bow.

Racks will be measured by official scorers as either typical or non-typicals.

Bucks killed during the 2018-19 season can also be entered if they were not entered in a contest last year. Often, a hunter will take his or her deer to the taxidermist, and the rack will not be available for the contest.

A buck does not have to be mounted for the contest. All racks will be officially scored by Boone & Crockett Club measures, and antlers will be scored either typical or non-typical.

Official score sheets

Hunters having bucks that make the B&C or Pope and Young record books will be given official score sheets for registering their buck. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be on hand to document bucks qualifying for the Louisiana Record Program.

To be officially, scored a rack has to air dry for 60 days, and this does not include time in the freezer. Racks that do not meet this criteria will be scored, but the score will not be official, and the rack will not qualify for the record books; it will have to be scored again.

If a hunter has already had his buck officially scored, that score will be used as the contest score, and the rack will not be scored again. Hunters should bring a copy of their score sheets to the show for documentation. Scores that hunters have received from other big-buck contests will not be accepted unless they are official scores; the rack will be scored officially by scoring team.

Hunters must agree to leave their rack on the wall for the duration of the show; hunters are responsible for picking up their buck or antlers when the show closes on Sunday, March 15.

How the scoring works

Antlers will be scored either as a typical or a non-typical rack, depending on the symmetry or lack of symmetry due to abnormal points.

A typical score of 160 and a non-typical score of 185 will be the minimum score. A buck that scores the closest to the minimum score or exceeds the minimum score by the most points will be declared the winner for that category. For example, a typical score of 170 will beat a non-typical score of 190 because it exceeds the minimum by five more points.

Gun categories are for deer taken with centerfire firearms; this includes rifles, shotguns and the primitive centerfire rifles. The primitive category is for crossbows and the old blackpowder rifles or shotguns. Most of the deer entered in this category are taken with crossbows, but every now and then we get one from a blackpowder hunter. The youth category is for youths 15 years or younger; their bucks could have been killed with any legal weapon: gun or bow. Youths who are 16 years or older and have to purchase hunting licenses will enter their bucks in the other categories. There is no category for women; they will compete with the men.

Louisiana bucks

While many hunters don’t think of Louisiana as a big-buck state, the fact is our Louisiana trophies generally score the highest in the show, beating out bucks from the Midwest and Mississippi. The average score of a buck entered in the contest is about 120, which is not a record-book score but a buck most hunters would mount. While non-hunters generally do not approve of trophy hunting, the quality of bucks harvested is a good indicator of deer herd health and the management being applied to the herd.

I often hear hunters who are looking at the racks comment that the buck they killed was bigger than that one so now is the time to walk the talk, bring your antlers to the show and find out!

Click here for more info on the contest: louisianasportsmanshow.com/gonzales/big-buck-contest

Dave Moreland
About Dave Moreland 216 Articles
David Moreland is a former wildlife biologist with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for three years. He and his wife Prudy live in Baton Rouge and own property in East Feliciana Parish.

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