There were lots of them in Columbia County last weekend, when the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association honored the hunters who took the highest scoring Georgia whitetails of the 2008-09 season.
The annual big buck competition, sponsored by Georgia Sportsman magazine and the state's Wildlife Resources Division, attracted 71 entries this past season, said Jimmy Jacobs, editor of the magazine and chairman of the awards program.
Thirty-eight of those entries were bowkills that qualified for Pope & Young status. "It was a great season for bowhunters," he said.
To qualify for the competition, archery kills needed scores of at least 120 for typical bucks and 155 for non-typical. Firearms kills had minimum required scores of 145 for typical and 170 for non-typical.
The top scorer in the archery category was Rusty Osbourne's non-typical buck taken Nov. 16 in DeKalb County, which scored 187 and four-eighths P&Y points. Rusty is from Monticello, Ga.
Randy Birchfield's typical archery buck was taken Nov. 20 in Fulton County, and scored 148 and six-eighths P&Y points. Randy lives in Rockmart, Ga.
The top firearms kills included Devin Key's spectacular drop-tine, non-typical from Rockdale County, which was taken Oct. 24 and scored 211a Boone & Crockett points. Devin is from Stockbridge, Ga.
Wayne McDaniel's winning typical buck -- with a 23r-inch spread -- was taken Nov. 25 in Pulaski County and scored 167 Boone & Crockett points. Wayne is from Birchwood, Tenn.
None of the winning buck entries were from east Georgia or the Augusta area.
The recipients received plaques during the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association's annual conference and Excellence in Craft awards banquet held at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
Also during the event, The Augusta Chronicle was honored as recipient of a second-place award in the daily newspaper category for a 2008 story entitled "A really old fishin' hole," which explored the prehistoric Indian fish weirs in the Savannah River shoals near Augusta.
WMA CLOSURES: Budget cuts will close or reduce management activities at four of Georgia's popular wildlife management areas, effective July 1.
According to the Wildlife Resources Division, the areas affected by the 2010 budget are the Lake Burton, Lower Blue Ridge, King Tract and Rayonier WMAs.
Lake Burton and Lower Blue Ridge are part of the Chattahoochee National Forest and although the state will cease wildlife management in these areas, they will still remain open for public hunting.
The King Tract and Rayonier tracts in southeast Georgia will most likely be leased from the landowners by hunting clubs.
On the brighter side, the Board of Natural Resources recently approved an addition of 1,700 acres to the state-owned Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area in Seminole County; and another 7,000 acres in Long and McIntosh counties, known as Townsend WMA.
"The good news is that we have a net gain in total acres available to hunters over the last several years," said Commissioner of Natural Resources Chris Clark. "The department is fortunate in being able to offer more than one million acres of land to Georgia hunters for the purchase of a $19 WMA license."
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.