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Monday, September 2, 2013
I am not a strong man.
Yes, I have pretty good endurance.
But when it comes to things like push-ups, pull-ups or dragging a deer through the woods, it is ugly.
A moment during a late-season archery hunt in rural Roanoke County two seasons ago was a particular low light.
I had been hunting from the ground with a crossbow, wearing a homemade ghillie suit that concealed me well as a nervous doe eased her way in my direction.
She was less than 10 yards away when she finally turned broadside and gave me a shot.
She tumbled 15 seconds after the shot, coming to rest in the bottom a little ravine.
When I reached the animal I slipped my drag rope around her neck and headed up the hill.
Or, rather, I tried to head up the hill.
I could barely budge the deer. Was she caught on something? No. Apparently, I was just really, really weak.
Finally, with a huge effort, I was able to move the doe. That's when I realized what was going on : The animal was enormous.
Not by Iowa standards, maybe. But, by Virginia standards, this was a trophy doe, by far the biggest I'd ever killed.
Scales later confirmed it. Field-dressed, she weighed 115 pounds.
A few weeks ago I asked Barry Arrington what most of the does brought in to their Bedford County cooler weigh. He said the typical range is 60 to 80 pounds, field dressed.
My reward for killing what will likely be my doe of a lifetime? A lot of venison in the freezer, along with personal satisfaction.
Experienced hunters know that fooling a mature, cagey doe can be every bit as difficult as killing a mature buck. But we're not going to haul a 115-pound doe off to the taxidermist for a shoulder mount to hang above the fireplace.
Yet, thanks to an idea hatched by hunters Edward Coleman and Josh Hall, hunters who kill a big doe this year can get a little extra recognition.
Prior to last deer season, Hall and Coleman were brainstorming how they could encourage more hunters to kill mature does. They decided to hold a big doe contest, in conjunction with Hunters for the Hungry.
Fifty-five hunters paid $25 each to participate, with Charlie Carter taking the win with a 105-pounder.
"We had a good turnout and it was fun," Hall said of the contest. "The only real hitch was the deer had to be weighed at Edward's house."
This year the men were able to connect with several Hunters for the Hungry-affiliated meat-processors, which will serve as the official weighing stations. The weigh stations are in Bedford, Amherst and Campbell counties.
Though the geographic reach of the contest will be admittedly modest this season, Hall said the hope is to continue to expand the reach in the future.
Hunters who weigh deer aren't required to donate the animals to Hunters for the Hungry, but Hall said the hope is that the contest will promote more support for the Big Island-based charity.
"Donations have been down recently," said Hall, a former professional baseball player who made it to the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds for a brief stint in 2003.
Hunters for the Hungry will benefit from every entry, because $8 from the entry fee will go to the charity. Of the balance, $10 covers the cost of a T-shirt for every participant, while $7 goes into the winner-take-all pot.
The T-shirt features a doe being chased by a trophy buck, with the scope's crosshairs on the doe.
"Below that is our motto, which is ‘Quality deer management, one doe at a time,' " Hall said.
The entry fee is due by Oct. 1. The contest gets under way on the opening day of the early archery season, and runs though Jan. 4.
Entering is easy. Just send the entry fee, along with your name, address, T-shirt size and email address to Big Doe Contest, 1150 Clubridge Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503.
For those seeking more information, I've posted the contest flyer on my Wild Life blog at roanoke.com. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunters for the Hungry banquet
This year's Hunters for the Hungry Sportsman's Banquet will be held Sept. 14 at the Roanoke Moose Lodge (#284) at 3233 Catawba Valley Road in Salem.
Tickets are $25 for individuals and $40 for couples, with kids 12 and under admitted for free.
Contact Ralph and Lois Graybill at 427-5125 for more information.
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