Harvest trophies merit awards

Published 2:53 pm Saturday, September 30, 2017

There’s more to judging deer, bears or turkeys than just their looks. Any hunter who brings in his or her trophies at the annual Eastern/Western Regional and State Big Game Contest already knows for what judges are checking.

This year’s event, which took place Sept. 23-24, returned to the Southampton County Fairgrounds in Courtland. Previously, Hampton had been the host.

Throughout much of Saturday, youth and veteran hunters brought in numerous trophies. A large portion of the floor in one part of a room was nearly covered with mounted deer. Using a cloth tape measurer, people such as Steve Little or Mike Price would take careful measurements of the antlers. The full length of the antlers, circumference, width and bone tip are considered.

Little serves as the chief judge for the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association, taking over the role from Price. They check for any differences between what they found and what a hunter originally reported.

“We’re certified judges,” said Little, acknowledging that people will sometimes fuss if those discrepancies could mean the difference between qualifying for an award.

When it comes to bears, the skulls are what judges examine.

In this Luke Brown of Chesapeake was a winner. The young hunter got not only a black bear, but also earned a Virginia Grand slam for his deer and turkey trophies.

Turkeys are critiqued not only by weight, but also the very pointed spurs on their legs as well as the length and condition of their beards, which are not to be confused with the red-colored wattles under their chins.

In the exhibition hall next door, the chosen trophies were displayed in the center. Vendors such as JAG Calls were on the perimeter selling, what else, handmade wooden boxes that can imitate the sound of turkeys. Crossbows and other supplies were also sold, as well as tables advertising hunting programs for veterans.

Sunday was reportedly packed with people to learn how they did. You can see many of the winners on B1. Among them, though, was Hayden Head. He was named the recipient of the inaugural Ken Pickin Award. This honor is named after the late Kenneth R. Pickin [this is corrected from the cutline on B1,] former president of the VPSA. Hayden also earned two plaques for state championship in the category of Whitetail deer antlers.

Michael Jones, VPSA president, came to the office after Pickin had died earlier this year. He said the legacy award will continue annually.

“He was such an advocate for youth hunting,” said Jones.

For more information about participating in this event next year, contact Jones at 371-3335 or michael.h.jones52@gmail.com. You can also visit www.vpsa.org.