Regional, state big game contest planned

Published 8:55 am Friday, July 29, 2011

COURTLAND—Some of the largest deer, turkey and bear taken in Virginia in 2010 will be on display during the 72nd Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest on Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Southampton County Fairgrounds.

Last year’s event featured a state record 8-point taken by Suffolk hunter Delaine Babb during the 2009 season. Babb harvested the buck on the last day of the whitetail season while at Davis Ridley Hunt Club in Courtland. It scored a 199 0/16.

The contest also include Joshua Hooker, 11, of Smithfield, who set a new record for the biggest turkey in the eastern half of Virginia and the fifth biggest ever in the state. Joshua took his turkey in Southampton County.

Dustin Heard, 13, of Suffolk set a record with a 15-point taken from his tree-stand in Southampton County. The deer scored a 201 11/16.

The event is sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association in partnership with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

A similar contest will be held for the western half of Virginia from Sept. 9-11 at Rockingham County Fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg. The winners of that show will travel to the Courtland show to choose statewide winners.

The weekend also will feature exhibitors with gear, calls, supplies and taxidermy as well as activities for youth. Biologists and law enforcement staff with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be on hand.

Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association held its first Big Game Contest on Sept. 23, 1940, in Wythe Hall, Hampton, and was open to any deer legally bagged in Virginia prior to 1940. It’s believed the contest is the oldest statewide competition.

In 1949, the Game Commission decided that it would better serve the sportsmen of Virginia by dividing the contest into two regional championships, Eastern Regional and Western Regional championships. The top winners from each would then compete for the state championship.

The first Big Game Citations for deer and bear were at the 1984 contest. The citation program for turkeys was delayed until the 1985 contest.