posted on February 21, 2011 07:13
By Mike Handley
Michael Hanlon’s buck isn’t going to break any records, but it sure turns a lot of heads. If the velvet doesn’t get your attention, the left side’s tall tines and the right’s strange configuration — a three-point typical frame with an extra 22-inch beam on the backside — are sure to make you breathe through your open mouth.
Probably another corn-fed buck from the Midwest, right?
Ask any hunter to name the top whitetail states, the ones coughing up the most book deer, and the answers will likely include Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin and Iowa. I’d be very surprised if anybody mentioned Louisiana, which is where Hanlon arrowed his buck.
The Sportsman’s Paradise conjures many images: crawfish, bayous, alligators, killer hurricanes, LSU and Bourbon Street. Deer don’t really come to mind, but they should.
My introduction to the real Land of Giants came in 1999, when I met Cecil Reddick at a Tallulah, La., truck stop. We drove south into Vidalia, where Cecil (now the BTR’s regional director for Louisiana and Mississippi) measured a nearly 300-inch whitetail shot back in 1947. I was there to get the story.
Cecil and I drove through Madison, Tensas and Concordia parishes that stormy day. I mention that because these — based on number of bucks entered into “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records” from 2005-2007 — were nos. 2, 3 and 4 among the Top 10 counties in the world for firearms-harvested bucks.
I’m obliged to point out that were it not for Cecil’s determination to lay a tape on every big whitetail to go to ground there, Louisiana might well remain the deer hunting world’s best kept secret. And were it not for Jeff Simmons, who owns a sprawling sporting goods store in Bastrop, even Cecil’s nose for exceptional bucks wouldn’t be enough to thrust his state into the spotlight.
Simmons’ Sporting Goods’ 27-year-old big buck contest might not rival the Los Cazadores contest in Pearsall, Texas, in national name recognition. But it’s very close in numbers of deer entered, and Jeff’s is a couple of years older. Both contests draw between 2,000 and 3,000 entries, and Simmons’ has attracted twice that in a good year.
Every spring, when entrants from numerous states gather at Simmons’ for the grand prize drawing (most recently a $10,000 shopping spree), Cecil and a team of BTR measurers are on hand to score the cream of the crop. Seventy-eight new record book entries were measured Feb. 12.
I haven’t run the numbers for 2010 yet, but I strongly suspect — based on this year’s tally in Bastrop -- that Louisiana was the No. 1 producer of bodacious bucks last season. Stay tuned.
Dates to Remember
March 1: Deadline for BTR entries to be included in the 6th edition of the record book (those received after that date will make it into print in 2014).
March 14: Deadline for pre-registering for the March 19 antler-scoring class in Dubuque, Iowa.
This week’s Braggin Board represents a very small sampling of the Louisiana deer taken in 2010 and measured at Simmons’ Sporting Goods on Feb. 12
(photos by Ed Waite and Jackie McConnell).