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Dealers, why not organize an annual big buck contest?

Dealers, Why not Organized An Annual Big Buck Contest?

Trophy bowhunting is more popular than ever before. I recently attended the Pope and Young Biennial Convention in Boise, Idaho, a gala affair featuring a two year contest among bowhunters with awards for the largest big game animals taken in more than 30 different categories. The people there were friendly, dedicated, and truly nuts over big antlers and horns. They were typical of archers all over the country.

Not all bowhunters deliberately pursue large deer, but most would like to hang a magnum rack on the den wall. As a retail store owner, you can capitalize on this interest in trophy bucks by organizing an annual big-buck contest. Such an event can pay for itself and perhaps even put a little money in your till. More importantly, it will give your shop publicity and bring extra foot traffic through the front door.

Done correctly, a big-buck contest generates major interest among local bowhunters. First, you must clearly outline the rules of such a contest. There must be a deadline for the entry of bucks -- usually a week or two after deer season closes. Animals must be evaluated according to predetermined specifications. The basic Pope and Young scoring system is a good method to use - a method you can learn about by writing the Pope and Young Club (1804 Borah, Moscow, ID 83843; phone: 208/882-3084). If you opt to utilize the Pope and Young deerscoring system, it makes sense to enlist the help of an official measurer who lives near your store. A current list of measurers is also available from this club.

Some archery dealers simplify deerscoring to make their lives easier. One method combines the outside spread in inches, height in inches, and number of tines on a given rack. A set of antlers 20 inches wide and 12 inches high with 10 points would score 42. A few contests award the widest outside spreads of deer antlers, but this does not give trophies credit for other attributes like number of tines, height of rack, mass and length of beam, etc. If you wish to invest the time and money, it's probably best to adhere to the Pope and Young judging standard.

Most big-buck contests require a signed affidavit from a witness to authenticate the legality of the kill. You can formulate and Xerox copies of such a document for customers to use. A snapshot of the hunter with his buck or an actual peek at the deer in the parking lot of your archery store should also be mandatory to verify that the trophy was indeed bagged during a current deer season with bow-and-arrow equipment. Finally, you should require the original or a copy of the state deer tag used to validate the animal. With such information plus the dry deer rack itself, you can confidently compare antlers without undue worry that customers have cheated to win a prize.

Some archery stores charge a minimal buck-entry fee to cover clerical and antler-measuring costs. Others feel the interest generated by such a contest more than pays for the hassles in increased equipment sales. Generally, a big-buck archery contest is advertised with handbills and local newspaper and/or television ads to generate maximum public awareness.

You might be astounded at how popular your store becomes as "Contest Day" approaches. Many bowhunters will want to see the antlers or photos of bucks that have already been entered, to be sure to set aside a shelf or rack to display these to customers.

The grand finale of any big-buck contest is the awards ceremony. This need not be elaborate, but provides a media event that newspapers and/or television are likely to attend.

The free publicity can help a store tremendously. Prizes for top deer racks vary considerably from dealer to dealer. Some store owners distribute standard plaques available at any trophy shop. Others offer archery gear -- a compound bow for first place, a dozen arrows for second place, etc. Some archery manufacturers are willing to donate free merchandise as prizes in return for the publicity they receive. This is an angle you might wish to investigate. Most dealers who sponsor such a contest also offer kids' prizes for successful bowhunters under 16 years of age, and often include a separate category for women. Big-buck contests are also made more interesting with a prize for the smallest deer rack entered.

The overwhelming majority of archers are hunters, and most of these hunters concentrate primarily on deer. For this reason, a big-buck contest can have major promotional value for your retail store. Foot traffic will increase, free media coverage is easily arranged, and archers will come to regard your establishment as a center of social as well as buying activity. Such a contest embodies some hassles, but many dealers feel the results far outbalance minor inconvenience!

PHOTO : A big-buck contest can help make your store a hub of social as well as gear buying activity.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:archery retailing, sporting goods stores
Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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