Dixie Deer Classic: Hunters double up on rare honors

CorrespondentMarch 5, 2014 

— The Stokes County whitetail that Tim Watkins of Walnut Cove took down Sept. 18 became the first N.C. bow kill ever to qualify for the Boone & Crockett Club all-time record book.

The distinction didn’t last, though. Two weeks later, a bigger buck went into the B&C book, and this past Sunday that buck won the best typical by bow award at the Dixie Deer Classic outdoors exposition at the State Fairgrounds. Volunteers from the Wake County Wildlife Club and the N.C. Bowhunters Association scored 617 deer Friday through Sunday.

“I had no idea what I had,” said John Tuttle of Stoneville, who arrowed his winning Rockingham County buck just past 6 p.m. Oct. 1. “I skinned him that night. If I’d known, I’d have had him back in the woods in the morning and took pictures. I didn’t get any good pictures.”

He has a good trophy, though, a tall pedestal mount of the whitetail scored at 171 7/8, larger than the 170 1/8 for Watkins’ deer, which received the President’s Award.

Watkins wished his “once in a lifetime” buck had been a record that stood.

“Records are made to be broken. I knew it would be a matter of time, but I didn’t think it would be that quick,” said Watkins, who had to miss Sunday’s ceremony and spoke by phone Tuesday night with the hope of soon meeting Tuttle.

Opinions varied on the reasons the state’s first B&C bow kills happened so close together. Watkins said he thought the poor acorn crop caused more older – and usually cautious – deer to venture to baits. Ramon Bell, president of the N.C. Bowhunters Association, said by phone Tuesday that he hoped that “more hunters are letting young bucks walk and giving them a chance to grow up,” and he also credited the two-buck limit adopted by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in 2000.

Mark Headen of Yadkinville, an official scorer, hoped the outstanding examples would inspire planning.

“It just goes to show what N.C. could produce and, if we had management, what we could produce,” he said. “… You’ve got to let them go and let them grow.”

Another buck that did some growing was Mocksville taxidermist Todd Lowe’s Yadkin County buck that scored 167 7/8 and was No. 1 in the state.

Asheboro’s Cody Caviness bagged the best N.C. typical by gun, a Randolph County buck scored at 165 6/8. The best N.C. non-typical by gun scored at 187 4/8 and was shot near Lumberton by Robeson County’s Fuller Locklear.

The biggest deer taken by a female hunter belonged to the smallest girl. Mary Freeman, 9, of Broadnax, Va., won the President’s Youth Award with a Mecklenburg County, Va., buck that scored 156 4/8.

Those winners paled in comparison to the Best in Show. Marion retiree Gary Stevens’ hunt on a Adams County, Ohio, farm yielded a rack that scored 185 5/8.

More than 25,000 tickets were sold for the event, which filled four buildings with vendors, exhibits, seminars, celebrity appearances and competitions.

Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com Twitter: @BoggessT

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