The theme of the TylerPaper's 34th annual Big Buck Contest is change with two divisions seeing new leaders this week.
Nolan Scruggs of Jacksonville has taken the lead in the North Texas Division with a 12-point Cherokee County buck scoring 161. Hunter Low, Flint, moves into first in the Boys' Division with a 14-point Dimmit County buck scoring 160 1/8.
Scruggs was hunting a deer he was very familiar with.
"The deer showed up in our game cameras in the summer of 2011 as a 9-point. The only time we saw him was at night," the hunter said.
After not seeing the buck during the season, he found it again on cameras going into the 2012 season as a 10-pointer.
"Again, even in the summer and hunting season he only showed up at night. This summer he showed up at night again with more mass and a split brow tine, and with an extra point that made him a 12," Scruggs said.
But the pictures were still all at night.
On a Saturday morning Scruggs sat in the stand and watched several young bucks chase a doe. He returned that evening with his son's girlfriend, Shanda Williams, a non-hunter who wanted to see what hunting was all about. About an hour after the feeder went off, Scruggs told Williams the deer should start moving.
"About 10 minutes before dark a large deer came out of a group of trees crossing a 45-foot clearing heading to another group of trees. One glance with my binoculars and I told her to put her hearing protection on. In a matter of about 10 seconds the elusive deer was on the ground," he said.
The buck had a 16-inch inside spread and a longest main beam length of 22 4/8 inches. The longest tine was 10 2/8 inches and the large circumference base measurement was 4 6/8 inches.
Tyler's Ron Lott is now in second with a McCulloch 14-point buck scoring 160 3/8. George Wyatt of Kilgore is second with a 12-point Panola County buck scoring 159 2/8.
Low, 12, got an assist from his dad, Rodney, who had gone to their South Texas lease to fill feeders for a week of hunting over Thanksgiving. While working he spotted a buck several times he seen during dove season, and quickly made arrangements for Hunter to get a ride to the lease.
The next morning the two Lows were in the stand looking at eight bucks and several does with fawns. The hardest part was picking out the buck with the small drop tine from the group.
He shot, hitting the buck at 125 yards, and all the deer ran off into the brush. They heard limbs breaking and assumed the deer was down, but while waiting a buck walked back out to the feeder. It was the same buck. This time Low's shot dropped the deer.
The buck had a 17 7/8-inch inside spread and a longest main beam of 24 7/8. The longest tine was 11 1/8 inches and largest circumference mass was 4 5/8 inches.
Will Martin, 7, Tyler, falls to second in the Boys' Division with an 11-point McCulloch County buck scoring 138 4/8. Sawyer Parker, 10, Mansfield, is third with an 11-point Anderson County buck scoring 137 4/8. George Bergfeld, 10, Tyler, drops of the standings.
Tim Parma, Tyler, leads the South Texas Division leader with a 10-point McMullen County buck scoring 148 6/8.
Laci Laird, Tyler, is first in the Women's Division leader with a 10-point Anderson County buck scoring 126 5/8.
Samantha Merrifield, 15, Hewitt, leads the Girls' Division with a 10-point Anderson County buck that scored 143 3/8. Millie Martin, 10, Tyler is second with a 10-point McCulloch County buck scoring 137 6/8. There is no third place entry.
Registration continues for the Big Buck Contest and is free at any of the contest sponsors including: The Tire Barn, 13687 FM 206 at Spur 364; 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; and Still Life Taxidermy, 1415 E. Tyler St., Athens. Participating hunters must register at least 24 hours before taking their deer.
All deer must be taken to either Still Life Taxidermy or Lynch's Food Store within 10 days of being harvested to be entered in the contest.
The contest runs through Jan. 26, one week after the regular season closes in South Texas.