By Bill Cooper
Miller Glass, of Rolla, and the Outdoor Vigilantes, a popular outdoor media group in the region, once again hosted their Missouri Youth Deer Season Big Buck Contest. The event took place on Sat, October 31, and Sunday, November 1.
Larry Daniels, of Miller Glass, began the event a few years ago as a public service for the kids of the Phelps County region. “The contest is just a fun thing to do,” Daniels said. “We all miss the old check stations where everyone used to go to check their deer. Our annual big bucks contest is sort of like the old check stations. Lots of people stop by to congratulate the kids and listen to their deer hunting stories.”
Kody Lucas, of the Outdoor Vigilantes, hooked up with Daniels the second year of the contest. “It was amazing to me that Daniels would hold such a contest for the kids, and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “It is really unbelievable what this contest has turned into. We went from about 50 checked deer last year to 81 this year. People from all over jumped in to provide product prizes, money and food for the event. It was hard to believe that people pitched in the way they did, but the event is totally for our kids.”
Lucas is a long time outdoorsman known for his jovial manner and ability to harvest wild game and catch fish. “Lucas has a real gift for gab, too, and never meets a stranger,” Daniels said.
Kids poured into Miller Glass on Saturday with their deer, which included a bunch of very nice bucks. Randy McCash served as the official scorer for the event. “I stood in awe of every kid that showed up,” he said. “They were amazing kids, and every one of them had a huge grin on their face. And on top of that, everyone involved in the event oohed and aahed over the kids and made them feel very special.”
“These young deer hunters truly are special,” Lucas said. “Hunting is on the decline in our country, and with that a way of life is disappearing. As rural folks, we know the values of getting our kids into the outdoors. They get exposed to nature in so many ways while deer hunting. They hear the birds and animals wake up; they watch the sun rise and learn a great deal about dressing properly for the outdoors. And that time spent in the woods with dad, mom, or grandpa is memory making time that will last these kids a lifetime.”
Daniels and crew showed up again at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and it didn’t take long for the trucks to start rolling in with more happy kids. “It’s amazing to watch the kids as everyone gathers around to get the scoring process started,” Daniels said. “All of the volunteers made extra efforts to congratulate each kid and ask them a ton of questions about their hunt. Watching the kids eyes light up as they told their story was one of the biggest rewards of the entire event. They were priceless.”
Joshua Huwar, of Brookfield, Missouri called Sunday evening before the event closed asking if he could bring his son’s buck to be checked on Monday morning. Daniels agreed. The crew reconvened for Joshua and Cole, his 9-year-old son, to arrive. “When. They dropped the tailgate of that pickup, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” Lucas said. “I told Cole that he couldn’t check that beast here, because it was an elk. It was huge and definitely bigger than anything I had ever seen while deer hunting.”
Randy McCash asked Cole if he had any idea what he had accomplished. The humble, but confident Cole took it all in stride as all of us clamored to ask questions and take dozens of photos and videos of Cole and his magnificent buck.
“Cole’s buck scored an unbelievable 201 and 6/8-inches,” said Lucas. “That buck is what every deer hunter dreams of, but the vast majority will never see a buck of that caliber in their entire lifetime.”
The Huwars climbed into their elevated ground blind at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. “Cole suffered from a bit of Halloween hangover on Sunday morning, so we decided on an afternoon hunt,” dad said.
“Deer started coming out into our soybean field about 20 minutes later,” Cole said. “Three does came out first and a couple of small bucks. I didn’t want to shoot them.”
Little did Cole know that he would be looking at the biggest deer of his life that afternoon. “We had never seen that buck,” Joshua said. “We couldn’t believe what we were seeing when that big buck walked out into the field. Cole made a perfect 170-yard shot, dropping the buck in its tracks, with his .22-250 rife.”
Daniels and Lucas concluded the 2020 big buck contest with a Facebook live announcement of all of the winners. Cole Huwar was on hand to answer a few questions. When everyone thought the event was over, Cole spoke up and made an announcement that left everyone speechless. “I love my .22-250 that I killed my big buck with. I want to donate the .243 rifle I won for first place back to the drawing so that another kid can have a deer rifle to deer hunt with.”
With a big lump in his throat Kody Lucas stated, “now that is the kind of deer hunter, we hope to see come from the Miller Glass Youth Season Big Buck Contest.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Cooper is an award-winning outdoor writer and member of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and lives in rural St. James. He is host of “Outside Again Adventures TV-Online” and “Wild at Heart” on ESPN 107.3FM in Rolla. You can follow Cooper at www.facebook.com/OutsideAlways, www.aoutdoorstv.com and www.espn1073.com.