Having the trophy buck he’d been hunting for three years nearly stolen by poachers ruined the 2015 hunting season for Derin Daniels, 31, of Burlington.
But the outdoorsman got a bit of revenge when the huge whitetail taken in near Prospect Hill in Caswell County was awarded one of two President’s Awards at the 37th Dixie Deer Classic held March 3-5, 2017, at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The antlers, which also won the non-hunting category, measured 187 0/8 under Boone and Crockett Club rules as measured by Dixie Deer Classic volunteer scorers, who scored 466 deer antlers and eight bear skulls.
The deer were primarily from the Carolinas and Virginia.
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“This has been a trend over the last several years,” Wake County Wildlife Club spokesman and volunteer Jim Hudson said. “The quality of deer being harvested in North Carolina and surrounding states has improved considerably as hunters follow quality deer management practices. In the early years of the DDC, many of the largest deer we scored came from Canada and western states.”
Another of the big N.C. deer won the second President’s Award. With a short-distance shot from a tree stand around 7:10 a.m. Oct. 15, Chester Townes of Henderson, bagged a Vance County whitetail that was judged the best N.C. typical taken by gun. The antlers measured 168 6/8.
A massive nontypical Virginia deer was crowned best in show. Brent Boney, 42, of Drewryville, Va., killed the Greensville County whitetail around 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23 while hunting with his 15-member dog hunting club near Emporia, Va. The antlers scored 210 6/8.
The tale of the Daniels deer has been told for more than a year. Daniels said he was in his hunting stand on property handed down from his grandfather to his father when he heard a shot. Eventually, the 4 1/2-year-old buck, which he had hunted for three years, was found hidden behind a tree near a road. After game warden’s investigation, Daniels finally had a mount made and took the deer to the Dixie Deer Classic for an official measurement.
The incident “soured my experience on deer hunting for the rest of the season,” he said after the awards ceremony, adding that someone who wanted to hunt the land merely needed to ask.
In the end, he had the buck he had sought, and he brought attention to an issue affecting ethical hunters and landowners. Poaching, he said, occurs “a whole lot more than gets told.”
The event drew nearly 25,000 people, including more than 20,000 paid attendees, hundreds of youths admitted free, 350 vendors from around North America and their staffs, plus hundreds of volunteers. Outdoor Channel stars Michael Waddell of “Bone Collector” and Chris Brackett of “Fear No Evil” were celebrity presenters. The event supports Wake County Wildlife Club programs.
Young N.C. hunters also scored well:
▪ R.J. Taylor, 20, of Lillington, Harnett County, N.C. non-typical by gun, 130 6/8.
▪ Tori Henderson, 15, of Timberlake, Person County, best N.C. female by gun, 125 0/8.
▪ Gantt Reasoner, 7, of Wake Forest, Granville County, youth muzzleloader, 133 5/8.
▪ Alicia Lynn Bateman, 12, of Eure, Gates County, youth female gun, 150 6/8.
▪ Carson Reese, 11, of Bullock, Vance County, youth gun, 145 1/8.
▪ Casey Haizlip, 15, of Elon, Alamance County, youth female by gun nontypical, 149 4/8.
▪ Spencer Tingen, 15, of Winterville, Pitt County, youth male non-typical by gun, 141 2/8.
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