Make a list of the top deer hunting counties in Arkansas, and it’s a pretty safe bet that you will not include Faulkner.
Yeah, if I made such a list, I would not put Faulkner County on it — and we may be missing out on something.
Three Faulkner County deer were among the top winners at the recent Big Buck Classic, an annual event in Little Rock that brings out thousands, most of them wearing camo, to see the male deer which give the event its name and to just rub elbows with other outdoor people and to look at all sorts of displays.
They have those live snake displays at the show for a reason. People come to look and to shudder.
If there is anything a deer hunter likes to do, it’s to look at a "big rack." Stephen Sprueill, Dennis Holloway and James Maness gave them something to see this year. They are three who took their impressive deer in Faulkner County.
Don’t ask for exact locations. These are deer hunters, and they may be kin to fishermen who catch really big bass. They aren’t going to tell you. But Dennis Holloway did mention that two of the three big Faulkner bucks were killed within three miles of each other. We have to assume that Holloway’s was one of those two.
Stephen Sprueill took first place in the Big Buck Classic’s crossbow non-typical competition with his deer that tallied 131 6/8 on the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
Dennis Holloway was third in the crossbow typical competition with a buck that scored 129 1/8.
James Maness was third in muzzle-loader competition with a buck that scored 82 1/8.
The Boone and Crockett scoring system is a complex measurement of all parts of a deer’s antlers — the main beams, the points and the circumference at the base. A scorer writes down all these readings of a tape measure, adds them up, and that is the score.
Arkansas deer with the largest racks tend to come from the lowlands of the eastern part of the state. This year’s winner was from Arkansas County, and photo of the rack shows horns that are as thick at the base as a big man’s wrist.
Scanning down the list of Big Buck Classic’s top deer, and other counties like Desha, Monroe and Prairie pop up in addition to Arkansas County, which had the most winners of any county. We’re talking about river bottom lands in east Arkansas, the lower White River and the Mississippi River.
Someone told us that deer in those areas have a balanced diet of acorns and soybeans.
Over the years in the Big Buck Classic competitions, there have been few, very few, deer among the winners that came from the piney woods section of our state, meaning south Arkansas where the numbers of deer are highest but the sizes of the animals aren’t nearly so high.
It’s interesting, also, that two of those three Faulkner winners were taken with crossbows. It shows to doubters that crossbows can be effective. At short range and in the hands of someone who has practiced, a crossbow will down a deer just like the ancient peasants on the ground did mounted and armored knights.
Notice those terms "short range" and "practice."
Here are two elements in successful deer hunting for anyone, and the method can be conventional archery, crossbow, muzzle-loader or big-hitting modern gun. Practice with your deer weapon to the point you are comfortable, confident and capable with it.
And don’t take bean-field shots at a deer with a crossbow.