84th Annual VPSA Big Game Contest Winners

by Chris McCotter

 The Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association (VPSA) in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show held the 84th annual Virginia Big Game Contest (August 4-6) at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.  The contest featured all the large deer, bear, and turkey harvested throughout the state during the last hunting season.  

  Overall, the event featured 365 deer, turkey, and bear mounts – a notable total for this Virginia tradition. All of these entries were displayed for the attending public to view.  This was the second highest turnout in contest history.  In 2022 event organizers processed 335 entries. In 2021 the contest reached a record number of entries with 392; and prior to 2021 the previous record was 304 in 2001.  

   Larry Wales, VPSA’s media manager reacted to the amount of entries by saying, “We filled the boards with great deer, bear, and turkey; but I enjoyed seeing all the youngsters with great big smiles showing off their trophies”. 

   Mike Jones, VSPA’s President, noted he was very excited with turnout.  He said that over 8,000 members of the public came through the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show to view the entries. Jones noted that he is so blessed to be heading an organization that cares so much to volunteer their time to highlight the accomplishments of the hunters of Virginia.

   Jones made it clear that the VPSA could not have pulled off a show of this magnitude without the 48 VPSA volunteers who spent a year planning and executing the contest.  

  “Their work was tremendous and did not go unnoticed.  The VPSA team themselves travelled great distances to be onsite each day and worked 12-hour days to ensure this contest was a success for all,” Jones said. “The VPSA made it known that they were very thankful for the support provided by the DWR, Wilcox Bait & Tackle of Newport News and Greentop Hunting & Fishing of Ashland, Va.

  In addition, the VPSA was able to help Hunters for the Hungry raise donations at the awards ceremony. The money raised will allow them to process and distribute essential protein for men, women, and children struggling with hunger. To date from just passing that bucket to the crowd at the VPSA award ceremony VPSA has helped to raise over $10K!  

    The VPSA, headquartered in Williamsburg, is a group of sportsmen who serve sportsmen.  They founded the Virginia Big Game Contest in 1940 and developed the Virginia Scoring System for deer and bear.  The group is the caretaker of the 84-year-old Virginia record book documenting the largest deer, bear, and turkey ever to roam within the Commonwealth. 

  In the early years of the VPSA, they assisted the game department with the whitetail deer recovery effort in the Commonwealth.  Their members had a deer-holding pen in Newport News, known today as Deer Park.  The contest held last weekend is the oldest consecutively held deer contest in the country.  DWR supports the group but VPSA manages the contest entirely with its cadre of well-trained volunteers.    

   At the show the group crowned a new Virginia state champion: Brent Grant.  Brent’s buck broke the two-year streak of a 23-point buck winning the contest.  Last year Austin Ragland won with his giant 23 pointer (233 11/16 – Nelson County) and in 2021 Joshua Clark earned the State Championship with his 23 point buck from Pulaski County that scored 244 15/16. 

  Grant’s buck was harvested with a blackpowder rifle in Bedford County Virginia and sported a 16-point rack and scored 248 11/16.  Brent’s buck also became number four all-time in Class 9 for blackpowder bucks 12 points and above.  

  VPSA also strives to support youth hunting.  In 2016, they began awarding a trophy named in honor of their long serving president of 22 years, Mr. Kenneth R. Pickin, to the largest deer harvested by a youth in Virginia.  This year’s recipient of the Ken Pickin Youth State Championship was Robert Daniels with his 14-point buck he harvested in the City of Suffolk, Virginia.  Robert’s buck scored 212 4/16 points.  

   In 2023 the VPSA began a new tradition by starting a Female only and Female Youth Only Division.  Miss Charlee Spivey won divisions with her amazing 13-point buck from Surry County Virginia.  Her buck scored 187 12/16.  

   The other state champions for the deer categories were as follows:

CLASS 1 – GUN – 12 POINTS & ABOVE – Robert Daniels – 14 Pt – Suffolk – 212 4/16

CLASS 2 – GUN – 9,10,11 POINTS – William Wilson – 11 Pt – King William – 203 15/16

CLASS 3 – GUN – 7 & 8 POINTS – Thomas Atkins – 8 Pt – Prince Edward – 181 3/16

CLASS 4 – GUN – 6 POINTS & UNDER – Isaiah Washington – 6 Pt – Goochland – 147 2/16

CLASS 5 – ARCHERY – 12 PTS/Over – Benjamin Hare – 14 Pt – Prince George – 196 14/16

CLASS 6 – ARCHERY – 9,10,11 POINTS – John Feasel – 10 Pt – Charles City – 192 12/16

CLASS 7 – ARCHERY – 7 & 8 POINTS – Richard Johnson – 8 Pt – Bedford – 174 15/16

CLASS 8 – ARCHERY – 6 POINTS – Franklin Butler – 6 Pt – Chesterfield – 147 3/16

CLASS 9 – BLACK POWDER – 12 PTS/Over – Brent Grant – 16 Pt – Bedford – 248 11/16

CLASS 10 – BLACK POWDER – 9,10,11 PTS – Neil Sandridge – 11 Pt – Nelson – 201 15/16

CLASS 11 – BLACK POWDER – 7/8 PTS – Steven Helms 8 Pt – Franklin Co. – 183 3/16

CLASS 12 – BLACK POWDER – 6 POINTS – Clarence Chrisley – 6 Pt – Pulaski – 149 4/16

   Ryan Summerford won the State Championship for wild turkey and became the State Record Holder for the number one turkey all time! Ryan’s bird scored 82 1/16; edging out the previous record holder (Ryan Pittman – 82 0/16 – Southampton County) by 1/16th of a point to grab the top spot on the all-time turkey list in Virginia.  Ryan harvested his championship bird in Northumberland County.  

  Young Karleigh Ogden of Amherst County won the Youth State Championship with her turkey that scored 76 6/16 points. Karleigh’s turkey is the number three all time for largest wild Turkey ever harvested by a youth in Virginia!  

  With this bird Karleigh also captured the first ever Female Youth State Championship for wild Turkey.  

  Ms. Janet Cole took home the first ever Female Wild Turkey State Championship with a bird from Patrick County that scored 78 6/16.

   Joe Stanley claimed the Bear State Championship with a bear harvested in Shenandoah County.  Joe’s bear scored 30 6/16 points.  The bear was stated to be an extremely old bear.  

   Samantha Moore took home the Youth State Championship for her bear that she harvested in Caroline County that scored 27 4/16.  Samantha also earned the State Championship trophies for both the Female Youth Division and Female Division for black bear.  The entire list of results from the contest is posted on www.vpsa.org.

    VPSA began the awards ceremony by recognizing the 2023 Virginia Deer Hunter’s Association (VHDA) scholarship winners.  Denny Quaiff, President of the VHDA noted that these scholarship winners are going on to study natural resource management and forestry in college. 
  VPSA President, Mike Jones, then proceeded to award the scholarship winner for the VPSA.  Fisher Dashiell took home the scholarship as he will be attending North Carolina State University and studying Agronomy.  

   The VPSA scholarship is actively taking scholarship donations.   Scholarship donations can be made by contacting VPSA President Mr. Jones at 757-371-3335.  

 Jones then helped Gary Arrington (Executive Director of the Hunters for the Hungry) take up a very large donation 

to benefit the Hunters 

for the Hungry program.  This program can feed a family daily for less than 30 cents.  Jones noted that he is genuinely excited about what VPSA can do to assist the hunters for the hungry program each year.  

   Finally, the awards ceremony kicked off by remarks from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Executive Director Ryan Brown.  Brown was ecstatic with the size of the crowd (estimated 500) and noted that they all should be proud of their accomplishments.  He thanked the VPSA for being their advocate to issue state citations and awards for these great harvests.  

  Upon conclusion of Brown’s remarks, the show was on the road.  Jones had the pleasure of awarding George Michael Arrington as the VPSA Sportsmen of the Year.  Jones and the VPSA crowned an Eastern Regional Champion, Western Regional Champion and overall State Champion for deer, bear and turkey.  

   Jones presented more than 70 awards to show attendees, including 15 Virginia Grand Slam Awards.  The Grand Slam is awarded to a hunter who harvests a Virginia buck, Gobbler, and bear all in the same hunting season.          

VPSA membership is open to anyone residing in Virginia.  This is how you can help keep this contest alive and well.  JOIN TODAY at https://virginiapeninsulasportsmen.square.site/

For more information about the VPSA please visit www.vpsa.org or follow them on their Facebook page at www.facebook/virginiapeninsulasportsmenassociation.

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