BY MATT WILLIAMS, Outdoor Writer
Dozens of heads representing some of top-scoring whitetail bucks taken by deer hunters across eastern Texas last season are headed to the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin where they will be on display May 14 as the highlight attraction of the 2016 Texas Big Game Awards Sportsman’s Celebration.
Doors will open at 2 p.m for viewing of the trophy mounts, followed by seminars, a dinner and a 6:30 p.m. awards ceremony that will recognize some of the biggest bucks in the land and lucky hunters who brought them down.
The East Texas regional banquet is typically one of the organization’s best followed of the year. Last year’s celebration, also held in Lufkin, drew to close to 400 people, according to TBGA’s David Brimager. More than 300 people were already pre-registered for this year’s event with more than a week to go, he said.
As earlier mentioned, the event will showcase some of the biggest East Texas bucks entered in TBGA this year. The trophy display will include bucks from Region 5 (Post Oak Savannah), Region 6 (Pineywoods) and Region 7 (Coastal Prairies). The heads will be divided by region on rustic display walls and tagged with the hunter’s name, county of harvest, TBGA score and other pertinent data.
Each deer had to be scored by an official TBGA scorer and meet a minimum score criteria in order to qualify for TBGA entry. Minimum B&C scores for typical whitetails is 125 and 140 for non-typicals taken in the aforementioned regions.
If you enjoy deer hunting and can appreciate the majesty of a big whitetail rack, this is a gathering you won’t want to miss. There are going to be some big boys in the room, including several open range bruisers that scored high enough to earn spots in the Boone and Crockett record book. Some are new records for their respective county of harvest. There also will be some big bucks present that were taken behind high fence, if you go for that sort of thing.
One the most impressive bucks on the list is an outstanding Collin County non-typical taken by archer Cody Griffin of Anna. Located along the northwestern edge Region 5, Collin County is the virtual shadows of downtown Dallas. The county had its first ever deer season in 2012. Like nearby Grayson County, Collin County’s season is limited to hunters using legal archery gear and crossbows, only.
I was unable to hook up with Griffin to talk about his buck, but according to the recounts I’ve read the deer was arrowed on Oct. 9 on 200-acres of open range property his family owns near McKinney. The hunter reportedly nicknamed the big buck “Dream Maker” because of its outstanding set of antlers.
According to TBGA’s official category standings, the Griffin Buck grosses 210 3/8 and nets 195 4/8, which eclipses the 195 inch minimum required for entry into the B&C all-time record book.
Interestingly, another remarkable buck with an even higher gross score was shot in Collin County last season by Steve Purcell of Wylie. That deer, reportedly taken on Nov. 22 on an 84-acre tract of property 20 miles from downtown Dallas, grossed 214 B&C, had 48 inches of mass measurements and was 29 inches wide. You won’t see the buck at the upcoming TBGA gig in Lufkin, though. Purcell chose to enter it in the program.
A buck that will be getting a lot of looks on the Region 5 display wall is the outstanding 12 pointer shot in in Anderson County by Courtney Gehrmann, a Nacogdoches native who works as a nurse in Bryan/College Station. Gehrmann shot the deer in October during the early MLD season that allows for rifle hunting on well-managed properties by permit.
Gehrmann’s buck grosses 203 2/8 and nets 199 5/8. At first glance the buck looks like a typical, but it could not be classified as such because two of its points do not originate off the top of the main beam. At any rate, it is the highest scoring net non-typical reported from all of East Texas in TBGA’s low fence category this season.
There was some debate earlier in the year as to whether or not Gehrmann’s deer would be accepted into B&C’s all-time records book because the ranch where it was killed is partially bordered by high fence. Maps and pictures illustrating the ranch parameters were sent to B&C’s home office in Missoula, Mont., for review to settle the dispute.
B&C’s Justin Spring and Jack Reneau were not available for comment at press time. However, Brimager said he has spoken to the
B&C officials and has been told that the Gehrmann buck will qualify for B&C entry.
Several other outstanding bucks from Region 5 low fence properties should be present at the show if the respective hunters choose to attend. Among the remaining Top 5 non-typicals are Brandon Slater, Limestone County, 169 1/8 net; Kevin Ellis, Leon County, 160 net; and Tony Hayes, Rains Co., 158 7/8 net.
The top scoring low fence typicals from Region 5 include Danny Bentley, Leon Co., 161 6/8 net; Bud Ooton, Collin Co., 157 net; William Hale, Van Zandt Co., 149 2/8 net; James Hankins, Madison Co., 149 2/8 net; and Bert Richmond, Leon Co., 146 2/8 net.
Some outstanding bucks also were reported from low fence property in Region 6, but it was Jimmy Isaacs of Rusk who stole the show with an amazing main frame 12 point typical. Taken on Nov. 12 in Cherokee County, the whopper whitetail grosses 187 2/8 and nets 174 4/8, easily topping the 170 B&C book minimum for typical whitetails.
According to B&C records officials, the Isaacs bucks is the first all-time record book typical ever reported from Cherokee County.
Rounding out the Top 5 low fence typical entries from Region 6 are Chris Seidel, Houston Co., 167 net; Dyllon Pate, Trinity Co. 156 1/8 net (public land); Michael Barnes, Tyler Co., 155 6/8 net; and Dwayne Hossley, Nacogdoches Co., 151 3/8 net.
Region 6 also kicked out some whopper non-typicals on open range, including Scott Myers’ Trinity Co. 18 pointer that ranks as the biggest of the bunch. The Myers buck grosses 213 and 187 4/8 net - well short of the 195 minimum for B&C entry, but a dandy just the same.
Another outstanding buck was reported in Angelina County by crossbow hunter Steven Anderson of Hudson. The 22-point non-typical grosses 182 and 172 4/8. Other Top 5 Region 6 NT’s you can hope to see at the show are bucks shot by Bradley Newton, Trinity Co. 171 net; Jason Knighton, Houston Co. 168 1/8 net; and Johnell Walding, Polk Co., 167 6/8 net.
TBGA Region 7 entries were light in number in comparison to the Pineywoods and Post Oak, but there were some outstanding open range bucks taken just the same. The top scoring non-typical belongs to David Allen with a Gonzales Co. buck that nets 167 5/8. Justin Hartl sits No. 2 with a 165 1/8 net Wilson Co. bruiser.
Rounding out the Top 5 non-typicals are Kevin Dodson, Caldwell Co., 164 1/8 net; Will Slaid, Gonzales Co., 150 4/8 net; and Gary Prause, Fayette Co., 147 2/8 net.
Gary Rainwater took the top scoring Region 7 typical in Guadalupe Co., 157 7/8 net. Other Top 5 bucks include Jordon Hollub, Guadalupe Co., 154 3/8 net; Scott Blezinger, Austin Co., 150 1/8 net; Kevin Knebel, Washington Co., 149 5/ net; and Ross Butler, DeWitt Co., 149 1/8.
In addition to the trophy display, Brimager says there will be seminars on the Texas Youth Hunting Program and aging deer on the hoof. There will also be exhibits and raffles for a a number of cool items including a Polaris ATV.
Tickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for kids under 12. Reserved tables for 10 cost $300. For more info, contact TBGA at 210-236-9761.
Elite Series event coming to T-Bend
by Matt Williams
The Bassmaster Elite Series will be on Toledo Bend May 12-15 for their fifth qualifying event of the current season. The field of 108 bass pros will compete for $100,000 cash and valuable points in the Angler of the Year race, which is currently lead by Louisiana’s Greg Hackney with 394 points.
Fresh off a win at Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, Emory angler Takahiro Omori is second in points with 368, followed by Randall Tharp, 365; Chris Zaldain, 365; and Gerald Swindle, 356.
Bass pundits believe Toledo Bend will kick out some big weights and some are calling for as much as 24 pounds per day to win. If that’s the case, somebody could bust the century mark because it is a four day event.
The full field will be cut to the Top 50 for Day 3 and the Top 12 will advance to the final round. Daily takeoffs will be held at 6:15 a.m. and weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m., both at Cypress Bend Park in Many, La.
Duncan wins KYKX with 8.02
Kyle Duncan of Marshall topped a field of 1,400 anglers to win the KYKX Big Bass Tournament held recently on Lake O’ The Pines near Longview.
Duncan’s bass, an 8.02 pounder, netted him $50,000. Robert Yeadon of Winona took second with a 7.63 pounder, $20,000; Tim McClure of Tyler, 7.22 pounder, $12,000; Stephen Metcalf of Harleton, 7.21 pounder, $10,000; Randal Davidson of Jefferson, 7.01 pounder, $8,000.
Emory’s Omori wins Wheeler Elite
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Takahiro Omori of Emory grabbed his sixth Bassmaster title with a convincing win in the Bassmaster Elite Series event held May 28 - April 1 on Lake Wheeler.
Omori weighed in 81 pounds, 6 ounces over four days, including a 25-pound sack in the final round that iced it. He earned $100,000. Texan Gary Klein also fished the final day and wound up 12th with 52-12. James Niggemeyer of Van finished 13th with 50-1.