Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show Draws Big Crowds - Deer Classic, Kids' Events!
Updated: Feb 24
The 35th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show drew big crowds with the parking lot at the Richmond Raceway Complex jam-packed by 11 a.m. Saturday. The number of families taking in the show was particularly impressive and many exhibitors across the four display-filled halls had special attractions just for the kids.
Back again was the Virginia Waterfowlers Association’s booth where children could hand paint their own wooden duck decoy. Parents helped draw the lines and the kids filled in with the appropriate colors. The chairs there were filled for the duration of the show. Daisy had an indoor BB gun range and kids could shoot lightly-powered bows and nerf guns also.
One of the annual highlights is the Virginia Deer Classic, a trophy buck contest with hunters bringing in their most mature, striking specimens to be scored using the Boone & Crockett Club’s trophy deer system. It's sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association. Ten to 20 years ago, there were many more deer entered in this contest. In 2010, for example,
420 deer were entered. Numbers began significantly tailing off in 2013 when just 247 were entered compared to 325 the year prior. Last year saw the fewest entries ever, with 129. That rebounded this year to 184 deer.
While there might not be as many bucks entered, the quality of these mature animals is truly impressive. I didn’t physically count the number that sported “non-typical” antlers, but they seemed to represent a significant percentage. Non-typical antlers are ones that don’t grow in a matching, symmetrical set. Drop tines, sticker points, palmation and more accentuate these non-typicals. Non-typical antlers seem to be more prevalent on deer that have grown to full maturity. Their prevalence in the contest could mean that hunters continue to practice a quality deer management philosophy seeking a balance of bucks and does and maintaining the right size herd for the habitat. Many hunters following these tenets look for big, mature bucks.
The biggest buck taken during general firearms season measured was a non-typical 12 points or better deer taken by Tom Saunders that scored 183.6. The biggest typical in that category was a 163.9-incher shot by Josh Dale. The overall biggest buck was a 194.4-inch deer taken by Joshua Collins with a muzzleloader.
Two deer that really stand out, though are a 150.6-inch deer taken by Chad Reed with a crossbow and a 151.3-inch buck taken during general firearms season by David Bratton. These two deer topped the 7-8 points typical division. Any Virginia buck scoring over 140 as an 8-pointer is remarkable. These two animals are incredible whitetail specimens. Click here to see the full 2018 Deer Classic results.
While the exhibit halls were packed downstairs, a few dozen people upstairs were making some kind of turkey racket. The state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was staging its annual calling contest championships with the winners getting beautiful plaques, cash and other prizes, plus a berth in the Grand National competition at the NWTF National Convention in Nashville next February.
Competition categories included Jakes (youngsters); Intermediate, Friction Calling, Owl Hooting, Gobbling and the Senior Opens. See a video highlighting that contest by clicking here.