Change has come quickly this season to Tyler Paper’s 34th annual Big Buck Contest.
Hunting on a portion of Panola County’s Powell Bottom Hunting Club, George Wyatt has become the second leader in the North Texas Division in two weeks after taking a 12-point buck scoring 159 2/8.
Hunting with Level 3 Managed Lands Deer permits, the Kilgore hunter had been in the blind opening weekend and passed a nice buck. A member of the club for the past 12 years, Wyatt was looking for a specific buck, a main frame 11-pointer with kickers he knew was there.
Powell Bottom is a 9,000-acre tract that is cooperative managed by a number of clubs. Wyatt and his group have about 1,900 acres leased.
After taking several days off from hunting, Wyatt was back in the stand for an afternoon hunt Oct. 3.
“I had some deer come out to the feeder and they ate up all the corn. This deer came out and was looking for corn,” Wyatt said.
He explained he was hunting an area that had been clear cut about five years and replanted two years ago, so there was no vegetation above about head high.
As he watched the deer a pipeline plane flew overhead.
“He must have seen the deer because he turned around and flew back over. When he came back the buck ran off,” Wyatt said.
After about an hour the buck came back out. Wyatt could see the kickers, but with the setting sun in his face he actually thought it was the bigger deer he was looking for.
“I just made a mistake,” he said.
In this case it wasn’t that bad of a mistake.
Wyatt said he has had pictures of this deer on a game camera for the past three years. It was almost shot two years ago, but after breaking a tine the hunters decided to let it go. Last year Wyatt and his wife had several chances to take the buck, but decided to pass.
“I have this deer’s horns from last year. He looks just like he did last year, but has twice the mass,” he said.
This deer was a main frame 9-point with three kickers that added just over eight inches of non-typical points. It had a longest main beam length of 25 2/8 inches and a longest tine of 12 6/8 inches. It had an inside spread of 17 1/8 and a largest base mass measurement of 4 5/8.
Based on previous pictures of the deer Wyatt believes it to be at least 4½ years old, but its teeth indicate it to be just 3½.
With Wyatt’s entry Palestine’s Donald Ressler drops to second place in the division. Ressler took a 9-point buck scoring 135 7/8 hunting with a crossbow in Anderson County.
Registration continues for the Big Buck Contest and is free at any of the contest sponsors including: The Tire Barn, 13687 FM 206 at Spur 364; Army/Navy Store of Tyler, 1201 E.SE. Loop 323; East Texas Seed, Cotton Belt Rail Yard; Lynch’s Food Store, 3400 E. Fifth; Mac’s Gun Shop, 213 E. Elm; Noonday Gun Trader, 14674 Texas 155 South; and Still Life Taxidermy, 1415 E. Tyler St., Athens. Participating hunters must register at least 24 hours before taking their deer.
There is one change in this year’s contest. The Youth Division will include both statewide boys’ and girls’ categories. The girls’ division replaces the South Texas division for the Youth Division, open to hunters 16 years old and younger.
Winners in the two youth divisions will receive a mount of their buck. Second and third place winners will receive a gift certificate.
The contest has three adult divisions: North Texas, South Texas and Women’s. Winners in each division will receive a Remington .270-caliber rifle and a mount of their deer. Second-place winners will receive gift certificates.
No deer taken within a high-fence property may be entered in the contest.
Only bucks with hardened antlers may be entered in the contest. This eliminates so-called velvet-horned deer from the competition. The change was made not because velvet-horned deer aren’t bucks, but because the velvet covering provides an unfair scoring advantage.
All deer must be taken to either Still Life Taxidermy or Lynch’s Food Store within 10 days of being harvested to be entered in the contest.
The contest runs through Jan. 26, one week after the regular season closes in South Texas.