RALEIGH — Neither a stolen tree stand nor a fierce hurricane kept two North Carolina hunters from their pursuits of white-tailed deer this past fall, and their persistence paid off with top awards at the 33rd annual Dixie Deer Classic outdoors exhibition this past weekend.
A swarm of volunteer judges measured and scored 551 sets of antlers Friday through Sunday at the State Fairgrounds. Jim Hudson, spokesman for the Wake County Wildlife Club, which conducts the event, said the overall number was down slightly but “the quality was outstanding.” Close to 25,000 showgoers toured hundreds of vendor and exhibitor booths, listened to guest speakers from throughout North America and viewed antlers, antlers, antlers.
The antlers judged Best in Show and Best North Carolina Typical Gun belonged to Jeremy McSwain of Norwood, who brought in an Anson County buck that scored 168 6/8. McSwain said he had to shoot from his wife’s tree stand because his deer stand was stolen. Jennifer McSwain, smiling, said her husband wouldn’t be living that down anytime soon.
Kaylin Duncan of Leasburg didn’t let Hurricane Sandy spoil his Caswell County hunt. The Best N.C. Typical Muzzleloader winner said he hunkered down in a ground blind under wind-whipped trees in a steady rain. Sure enough, a big buck was on the prowl for a doe. The rack, which scored 150 2/8, finally gave the Dixie Deer Classic veteran a category winner.