While the Texas deer season is in full swing and registration continues for the Tyler Paper's 36th Big Buck Contest, final plans for the contest have been made.
In conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a scoring day will be held Jan. 23 at The Nature Center, 11942 F.M. 848, for any buck taken during the 2015-16 season.
Official scorers from TPWD will be available throughout the day to officially score bucks for both the Big Buck Contest and the Texas Big Game Awards program.
To participate in the Big Buck Contest hunters will still have to pre-register in advance of taking their deer.
There is no registration for having a deer scored for the Texas Big Game Awards program.
Deer for both may be taken throughout Texas, however, those entered in the Big Buck Contest may not be taken from behind a high fence.
Hunters participating in the Big Buck Contest may register for free at any of the contest sponsors: Army/Navy Store of Tyler, 1201 E.SE. Loop 323; East Texas Seed, Cotton Belt Rail Yard; Lynch's Food Store, 3400 E. Fifth; Mac's Gun Shop, 213 E. Elm; Noonday Gun Trader, 14674 Texas 155 South; The Tire Barn, 13687 FM 206 at Spur 364; and Dogwood Hills Gun Club, 15160 County Road 1227.
The idea for a scoring day came from the popular Texas Trophy Hunters' Extravaganzas held around the state. Each year hunters bring their deer from the season to be officially scored by professionals. It is a popular attraction not only for those having deer scored, but for those who come to see the trophies and how they are scored. The Tyler scoring day will also be open to the public.
TBGA was started in 1991 to promote big game hunting in the state and to encourage landowners to maintain wildlife habitat. Participation is divided among eight geographical regions around the state with minimum scores based on the region for both typical and non-typical white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, bighorn sheep and pronghorn.
Participants whose deer meet the qualify score and the landowner for where the deer was killed receive a certificate recognizing the entry.
There is also a category in TBGA that recognizes all first-time kills.
TBGA regional banquets will be held around the state where those able to attend will receive their certificates. A statewide event will be held in conjunction with the Texas Wildlife Association's annual convention next summer in which the top three animals statewide will be recognized with a special award.
Both TBGA and the Big Buck Contest use the Boone & Crockett scoring system, however, TBGA utilizes net scores while the contest recognizes gross scores.
A single scoring day is not the only change for this year's Big Buck Contest. This year there will be only two adult divisions, one for men and one for women.
In recent years entries from North Texas have exceeded the quality of bucks from South Texas.
Finally, there is a change in the prizes being offered.
Instead of a mount, the winners in the adult divisions will receive a scoped Ruger American .308-caliber rifle and a $500 cash prize. Second place will receive gift certificates.
In the two youth divisions, one for boys and one for girls 16 and under, first through third place winners will receive gift certificates.
One thing that is not changing, we still want to know who is killing good deer during the season.
To keep the weekly stories going like has long been a tradition in the Tyler Paper, hunters, parents and grandparents are asked to continue to email pictures and information on hunts to email@example.com.
Those that are not used for feature stories will be used in the paper's Focus on the Outdoors photo section or could find their way onto Tyler Paper's new outdoor web page, Texasalloutdoors.com .
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at AllTexasOutdoors and on Twitter @alltexasoutdoor.