Hundreds of taxidermy mounts representing of some of the state’s top scoring whitetail bucks and other big game animals taken during the 2020-21 hunting seasons will be on display at a series of Sportsman’s Celebration banquets hosted in coming weeks by the Texas Big Awards Program.
TBGA is a hunter/landowner recognition program celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. The program has been run jointly by the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department since 1991. The idea is to recognize hunters who harvest quality big game animals and the land managers responsible for producing them, while stressing the importance of our hunting heritage and the achievement of young and first-time hunters.
The three banquets will recognize scored entries, youth and first harvest entries from the state’s eight ecological regions. Each gathering will combine multiple regions. Hunters who entered qualifying animals are invited to attend for free. Guest tickets are $20 each.
Dates and locations of the upcoming banquets are as follows:
* May 15, Edwards Plateau/South Texas (Regions 4 and 8). Fiddlers’ Gruene in New Braunfels. Doors open at 4 p.m.
* May 22, Trans-Pecos/Panhandle/Cross Timbers (Regions 1-3). Cabela’s in Fort Worth. Doors open at 9 a.m, banquet at 6 p.m. This event is free to everyone.
* June 5, Pineywoods/Post Oak Savannah/Coastal Prairies (Regions 5-7). Brazos County Expo in College Station. Doors open at 4 p.m.
TBGA’s David Brimager says there were more than 500 scored entries turned in ahead of the March 1 deadline, including some truly remarkable whitetail bucks.
Three of the best are Region 8 (South Texas) entries, which rank among the biggest free- ranging TBGA bucks of all-time. Among them are a pair of Maverick County typicals that rank as the No. 1 and No. 3 in TBGA’s all-time records, and a Kleberg County giant that is the second largest non-typical ever recorded in the history of the program.
Curtis Clingingsmith’s 10 pointer is the highest scoring of the two typicals with a Boone Crockett score of 192 5/8 net. The deer bumps Steven O’Carroll’s Shackleford County buck (190 2/8 net) from 1991-92 to the No. 2 all-time spot. The new No. 3 typical is a 12 pointer registered by Chad Clingman. The Maverick County buck nets 190 5/8.
Region 8’s No. 1 non-typical for the 2021 season was shot by Robert Buker. The Kleberg County 37 pointer nets 268 3/8, just 1/8 inch shy of TBGA’s No. 1 all-time free-ranging non-typical that was shot in 2013 in Houston County by Mark Lee.
Several outstanding typicals and non-typicals are expected at the Region 5-7 banquet in College Station. The top non-typical from Region 7 is a massive 21 pointer shot in Bastrop County by Troy Kunkel. With a net TBGA score of 215 1/8, Kunkel’s buck tops the former county TBGA record of 209 1/8 set in 2019.
Another Region 7 dandy was shot by Thomas Johnson in Wilson County. Johnson’s 11 point typical nets 182 3/8. It’’s the biggest TBGA typical ever reported from Wilson County.
The top-scoring bucks from the Pineywoods and Post Oak regions according TBGA’s official standings are as follows:
* Region 6 Non-Typical: David Rice, Trinity Co., 20 pointer, 189 6/8 net.
* Region 6 Typical: Lukey Smith, Trinity Co. (Davy Crockett National Forest), 8 pointer, 155 4/8 net.
* Region 5 Non-Typical: Tyler Wells, Grayson Co., 13 pointer, 189 3/8 net.
* Region 5 Typical: Eric VanDorn, Madison Co., 10 pointer, 159 net.
Brimager said the Top 5 2020-21 scored entries from each region were recently reevaluated scored for accuracy by a special panel of TBGA scorers. The Top 3 scored entries from each region/category are invited to attend a TBGA statewide awards ceremony set for July 17 in conjunction with TWA’s annual convention in San Antonio.