Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"We're Number One!" Yes, Ohio, you are in "Outdoor Life's Deer of the Year" contest

Depending on whether you are a county tourism director in Ohio or a deer hunter hoping to keep your corner a secret, the latest issue of "Outdoor Life" magazine will either make you shout "huzzah!' or send tears rolling down your cheeks.

The magazine's latest installment's front page lead story is its annual "Deer of the Year" profile, highlighting "25 bucks and the tactics used to tag them."

In short, a real hook to excite the state's tourism chieftains and win a smiling nod from the deer-management experts with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The reason is simple and quickly becomes obvious from both the cover's shot of a mammoth buck and also the spread's opening three pages. Both are devoted to the story of archer Mark Sharp - "a 41-year-old taxidermist from Washington Courthouse, Ohio" who on November 8 of last year arrowed a 21-point buck worth 201 4/8 non-typical inches.

Yet Sharp's deer is not the only Ohio buck taken in 2014 and featured in the "Outdoor Life" piece. Nope, and not by a long TenPoint crossbow long-shot, either.

In fact, of the 25 year profiled in this year's "Outdoor Life Deer of the Year" piece no fewer than six representatives hail from Ohio. That is more than from any other state.

The count shows just two selections came each from Iowa and Illinois. Only Wisconsin seriously nips at Ohio's rear tarsal glands with five displayed representatives.

Besides Sharp and his award-winning buck, the other Ohio "Outdoor Life" magazine honorees are Mark Owen and his 249-inch Pope and Young 22-point buck shot in Wayne County; Chad McKibben's 165-inch Bone & Crocket Club buck taken January 6 during the statewide muzzle-loading season; Mark McDowell of Cincinnati and his 194-inch buck; Shawn Evangelista's 225 5/8 buck taken in Ashtabula County on November 18; and Mark Heitzenrater of Kimbolton, Ohio and his 180-inch buck.

And the magazine likewise says it had received a total of 749 submissions for its 2014 "Deer of the Year" profile. Of this 749 figure, 157 came from Ohio, "the most from any state," the magazine article says.

Now if you are puzzled by a few things regarding "Outdoor Life's" grading, rest assured, there is a method to the magazine editor's madness. While the magazine's print edition offers nothing in the way of what the editors were/are looking for nor why a lower-scoring buck could be profiled more extensively than another, its on-line Internet site does provide guidance.

"Our editors will judge each photo on its quality and tastefulness, the uniqueness of the story behind 
your deer, and the size of your buck and its rack. We're also looking for great stories of first-time successes," the on-line magazine contest guidelines say.

Of course it would be interesting and informative if "Outdoor Life" was more consistent as to which county each of the bucks were taken, by what kind of hunting implement, as well as date of kill.

For further information about the magazine's 2015 "Deer of the Deer" contest project visit its web site at www.OutdoorLife/doy2014.

You'll have to hunt and peck around a little to locate the information, first by noting the second bar from the top of the page where it says "Contests and Sweepstakes."

That key stroke will get you to the "Deer of the Year" page whereupon you'll be directed to the "Enter Here!" page. Here, more information that includes how the contest features something called a " 'Battle of the Bucks' regional face-off," whatever that means.

A list of contest rules is included as well.

As for me, I will be - as I always am - delighted if I can just put some venison in the freezer. A bragging-size rack is icing on the cake.

But best of luck should you arrow or shoot an animal worthy of "Outdoor Life" magazine's interesting big buck photo-and-story contest.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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