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Courtesy of Katherine Cochran
It took three men to load Danny Lacks' bear mount, but the giant animal fell short of the state record.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Last December when Danny Lacks killed a bear in Lunenburg County that was so big he and his buddies had to get a front-end loader to hoist it into a pickup, rumors began flying that it would be a state record. After all, the 674-pound giant weighed nearly 85 pounds more than the Virginia record, a Rockingham County bear taken in 2010 by Clealen Dove of Harrisonburg.
Lacks hired Zack Mitchell, an accomplished taxidermist in Rustburg, to make a full-body mount of his bear. He had gotten estimates from taxidermist that ranged from $2,500 to $7,000.
The mount is so big it takes three men to carry it. Lacks had to borrow a trailer to haul it to Franklin, site of the past weekends 74th Virginia Big Game Trophy Show.
At the show, the bear scored 29 15/16. That's not a record. Dove's bear was 31 9/16. The record book holds a half-dozen other bear that have scored higher than 30.
That doesn't mean Lacks bear isn't a trophy of a lifetime. It drew a crowd at the show, which was sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association. But when it comes to the record book, weight doesn't count, nor dose the measurement of the hide, which was better than 8 feet, 9 inches in Lacks case. How a bear scores is determined by precise skull measurements.
A close second in the show was a Buckingham County bear killed by George Christian that scored 29 4/16.
While weight doesn't count in the scoring system, that's what grabs people's attention. Any black bear 500 or more pounds is awesome. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reports that the heaviest one it is aware of is a 740-pound monster killed in the Dismal Swamp area near Suffolk on Dec. 15, 2000.
Lacks' bear hunt is all the more spectacular in that one of his hunting partners, Bill Whitley, killed a 538-pound bear the same day. Notice this class of big bears is coming from the eastern side of the state from places where bears only recently have been showing up.
The 25-year old Lacks considers himself a casual bear hunter. He was participating in a outing with the Bagley's Mill Hunt Club, which was hunting with high-grade Plott hounds from Pole Cat Kennel in Brogdon, N.C. The dogs were on the heels of the bear when Lack spotted it, but the coal-black animal didn't seem to be worried, Lack said.
"He was just jogging along."
First time turkey hunter bags top tom
Darron Skinner of Chesapeake entered the top-scoring turkey in this past weekend's Virginia Big Game Trophy Show in Franklin. Killed in Suffolk, it scored 79 2/16, placing it in the top-10 of all-time turkey trophies.
It was Skinner's first turkey. His mouth call lured two hens into range followed by the tom at about 10 a.m. on opening week of the 2013 spring season. His friends laugh about his beginner's luck. On his first deer hunt he killed an 8-pointer.
His turkey weighed 21 pounds, 14 ounces and sported lengthy spurs and a beard of nearly 12 inches. Turkeys are scored through a combination of their weight, beard length and spur links.
The number eight and nine ranking turkeys in the contest were birds taken by James Williams who hunted Wythe County.
Big increase in youth day deer hunt
Officials of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries estimate that Saturday's special deer hunting day for youth and apprentice hunting license holders resulted in a take of about 2,600 deer. Some 1,911 were checked by phone and Internet. Officials believe another 700-plus were checked at big game stations where figures aren't yet available. That represents a 45-percent increase over last year.
The day also was open to bear hunting for youth and apprentice license holders, but kill figures are not available since bears must be checked at special stations across the state.
Matt Knox, DGIF deer project leader, reported excellent weather for hunting deer and bear.
Most of the deer increase is credited to the fact that it was the first time that apprentice hunting license holders were invited to hunt during youth day.
The top deer-kill counties of the day according to electronic checking results were Bedford 53; Botetourt, 45; Dickenson, 56; Grayson, 46; Montgomery, 46; Scott, 42; Tazewell, 41; Wythe, 43. Notice, all are from the western side of the state.
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