84th Annual VPSA Trophy Show Coming Early August

by Chris McCotter

The Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association (VPSA) in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show will hold the 84th annual Virginia Big Game Contest August 4-6 at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.  

  The contest will feature all the large deer, bear, and turkey harvested throughout the state during the last hunting season.    

  To put this in perspective last year VPSA put on display 335 of the largest deer, bear, and turkey harvested in Virginia! All were displayed for the public to view.  The record for most entries at a contest was in 2021 when 392 animals were displayed.   

  When asked what to expect this year, Buddy Faison (VPSA Director and outdoor social media influencer) stated he expected a record year. Faison said that “the deer, bear, and turkey posted on social media this year will prove to be record breakers once the VPSA measures them in August.” 

   The VPSA is headquartered in Williamsburg and is a group of 300 sportsmen and women who’s mission is to serve other sportsmen and recognize their achievements in the outdoors.     

  The VPSA has a long and storied history as the arm of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources that issues Virginia State Citations for Big Game, measures for and is the keeper of the official Virginia Record Book, and annually awards trophies to celebrate the largest harvests of the year in the Commonwealth.  

  Incredibly, the VPSA is made up entirely of volunteers.  They founded the Virginia Big Game Contest in 1940 and developed the Virginia Scoring System for deer, bear, and turkey.  

  In the early years of the VPSA, they assisted the game department with the Whitetail Deer and Wild Turkey recovery efforts in the Commonwealth.  Their members owned a piece of land in Newport News that was used in the recovery effort as a deer-holding pen. Today this land is operated by the City of Newport News and is known as Deer Park.  

  By all accounts this annual contest is the oldest consecutively held deer contest in the country.  This certainly has not come easy.  

  In the 1940’s the contest was threatened by World War II.  Hurricane Isabel nearly cancelled the contest in 2003 and in 2020 the Coronavirus Pandemic caused significant trouble for the VPSA, but through it all organizers have found a way to hold this event each year since 1940.  

   This August someone new will unseat the 2022 State Champion, Austin Ragland, as the current Virginia State Champion for Deer.  

  Austin’s giant 23-point buck was harvested on October 24, 2021 in the eastern portion of Nelson County with a bow!     

  Austin’s deer scored 233 11/16 under the Virginia Scoring System.  Interestingly enough the 2021 champion, Joshua Clark, earned his State Championship with his 23-point buck from Pulaski County that scored 244 15/16. Is there another giant 23- point in store for 2023?  

  In addition to crowning champions in 12 deer categories, a turkey category, and bear category the VPSA group strives to support youth and female hunting too.  

  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 the Commonwealth.  Last year the recipient of the Ken Pickin Youth State Championship was Robert C. Hatton with his 12-point buck he harvested in Sussex County Virginia on November 20, 2021.  Robbie’s buck scored 190 4/16 points.  

   The following is a list of state champions from the 2022 show:

CLASS I – GUN – 12 POINTS & ABOVE – Zachary Schatzman – 13 Pt – Halifax – 229 5/16

CLASS II – GUN – 9,10,11 POINTS – Garry Dunlow – 10 Pt – Southampton – 200 0/16

CLASS III – GUN – 7 & 8 POINTS – Trevor Revere – 8 Pt – Gloucester – 178 8/16

CLASS IV – GUN – 6 POINTS & UNDER – Howard Delk – 6 Pt – Nelson – 146 10/16

CLASS V – ARCHERY – 12 POINTS & ABOVE – Austin Ragland – 23 Pt – 233 11/16

CLASS VI – ARCHERY – 9,10,11 POINTS – Dylan Wood – 10 Pt – 205 0/16

CLASS VII – ARCHERY – 7 & 8 POINTS – Leon Jordan Jr. – 8 Pt – 170 2/16

CLASS VIII – ARCHERY – 6 POINTS – Peyton Moore – 6 Pt – Charles City – 136 6/16

CLASS IX – BLACK POWDER – 12 PTS/Over – Cory Sandridge 15 Pt – Augusta – 222 15/16

CLASS X – BLACK POWDER – 9,10,11 POINTS – Aaron Throm – 11 Pt – Wythe – 202 4/16

CLASS XI – BLACK POWDER – 7/8 PTS – Frankie Fisher – 8 Pt – Westmoreland – 185 7/16

CLASS XII – BLACK POWDER – 6 POINTS – Norman Wilfong – 6 Pt – Fauquier – 152 5/16

   While VPSA is extremely proud of the Virginia Scoring System for Deer they do want everyone to know that this show is the only show in Virginia where you can also earn a citation for your turkey and bear, and even a Grand Slam Award if you’ve harvested all three species and enter them into the contest.  

   For a turkey citation the lucky hunter must have documented the weight of the turkey on a certified scale and have the feet and beard present at the contest for judges to measure and score.  

  Last year Vance Willis harvested a wild turkey that scored 78-14/16 on April 13, 2022 that earned him the State Championship for Wild Turkey.  Vance harvested his championship bird in Lancaster County.  

  Young Benjamin Evans of Floyd County won the Youth State Championship with his turkey that scored 78-9/16 points.  Ben’s turkey is #1 all time for largest wild turkey ever harvested by a youth in Virginia and was harvested on April 14, 2022 in Floyd County.  

  For a bear citation in Virginia the lucky hunter must present his or her clean bear skull for measurement.  

  In 2022 Christopher Buck claimed the Bear State Championship with a bear harvested on October 8, 2021 in Brunswick County.  

  Christopher’s bear weighed in excess of 400 pounds and scored 28-14/16 points.  The bear was stated to be an extremely old specimen.  

  Thomas Atkins took home the Youth State Championship for his bear that he harvested in Prince Edward County that scored 26 6/16!  The entire list of results from the previous contests are posted on www.vpsa.org.

   Overall in 2022 the VPSA crowned an Eastern Regional Champion, Western Regional Champion and overall State Champion for deer, bear, and turkey!  

   The VPSA President, Mike Jones, presented more than 50 awards to show attenders, including eight 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.  

   In addition to recognizing hunters for their great achievements the VPSA strives to promote outdoor education through various hunter safety programs and seminars.  VPSA also awards scholarships annually to High School seniors who are entering college and majoring in a conservation based program.     

  Last year VPSA awarded two scholarships, one to Macs Crittenden who is now attending Virginia Tech and studying natural resource management and one to Laurel Jones who is attending James Madison University and studying biology.  Scholarship applications were due on May 31st and VPSA will have some great winners to again announce this August at the Virginia Sportsman Show.  VPSA desires to grown their scholarship program and is actively taking donations to the VPSA Scholarship Fund.  If you or your business is interested in investing in our youth please contact VPSA Treasurer Joe Marshall (757) 438-7991 today and pledge your donation.  

   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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