Jeremy Flinn sees it as an excellent tool to refine deer management across the United States.
Deer hunters and enthusiasts will see it as a fun and simple way to brag about big bucks to their peers around the nation – and have a chance to collect awesome prize packages in the process.
So it’s hard to find any downside to the Outdoor Channel National Deer Contest powered by BuckScore.
The contest is the first-ever, national white-tail deer scoring and photography competition. It is free to enter and has categories for youth and adult hunters, as well as in archery and firearm – with typical and non-typical divisions for each.
There are also categories for “On the Hoof” – living deer photographed in the wild – as well as for photos taken by trail cams.
“It’s estimated that 80 percent of bucks photographed don’t wind up in someone’s hands,” said Flinn, a registered wildlife biologist based in Columbia, Mo., who is the director of the contest. “This will give us the opportunity to score many deer that would not have been otherwise.”
The contest is open to anyone and entering is simple. Log on to www.nationaldeercontest.com and register for free. Then upload your photo and wait to see it on one of the national leaderboards with its score.
At the contest’s forefront is BuckScore, a new patent-pending computer technology that can score antlers through photographs. Its development began at Mississippi State University in 2003, and Flinn assisted in its completion while earning a master of science from MSU’s wildlife and fisheries program, beginning in 2007.
“First of all, there is the entertainment value – it’s something fun for the hunters,” Flinn, who is now the general manager for BuckScore, said of the contest. “You get to show off your deer to people around the country. Who wouldn’t love that?
“But we also plan to use it as a wide-scale conservation project. With each picture we receive and each deer scored, we will collect the geographic data of where it was harvested, its size, ect. Then we will be able to build a massive data base from deer populations and deer herds around the country that universities and wildlife agencies will have free access to.”
With BuckScore, a deer’s antlers can scored in similar fashion to Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young methods easily and in a fraction of the time, all through photographs.
“Based on our research, we’ve been able to score a deer with BuckScore to within 4 percent, on average, of what the deer would have scored if you had it in hand,” Flinn said.
The contest should have one of the largest deer hunting prize packages ever seen. More than $100,000 in prizes and merchandise is up for grabs, Flinn said.
For instance, the grand prize in the archery division includes in a variety of equipment, gear and a “Food Plot Makeover” from Pennington Seed that includes two visits from a Pennington Seed agronomist to your hunting plot. Also included is a 5½-day bowhunt – room, board and license provided – at Central Missouri Whitetails in 2013, pushing the total package value to more than $10,000.
And that’s just one of three grand prizes. Plus there are dozens more chances to win. Also, there is a fan favorite division where you can pick what you think is the best photo – and there are prizes for lucky voters as well.
Photographs must be taken after Aug. 1, 2012, and entries will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2013.