GORE BAY—As anyone who lives on Manitoulin or has ties to the Island knows, the annual deer hunt is a huge deal. Hunters from all over the province and beyond visit the Island for the annual hunt, taking time off from work or school every year to take part, and many Island businesses benefit from the surge of people that come to the Island.

You just have to listen to a hunter to realize how much of a tradition and part of the Manitoulin life that deer hunting is. It is an annual tradition that maybe, most importantly, brings family and friends together.

It was with this thought that ‘Tom’s Recorder Rack Roundup Big Buck Photo Contest’ was initiated this year. We asked hunters to send us a photo of your big buck from this year’s hunt.

This being the first year of the contest, which will be an annual event, saw a total of eight hunters (including one husband and wife team) send in photos of themselves and their buck. Next year we are hoping for an even larger number of submissions.

Having a relatively small number of big buck photographs to choose from should make it easier to pick a winner, right? Wrong. For the past few days yours truly has poured over the photographs to pick the winner of the contest. Not an easy task, let me tell you.

Entries included a massive buck harvested by Chin Assiniwe of Wiikwemkoong-an eight pointer that weighed approximately 300+ pounds; the husband and wife team of Jake Trudeau and Renee Abotossaway of Aundeck Omni Kaning, who harvested an 11 point buck in Wiikwemkoong; John Glasby of Gordon Township with his rather large six point buck; Lisa Lecuyer with the impressive looking buck she harvested; Vince Daoust, who shot a buck in Gore Bay via crossbow that, when dressed, weighed 196 pounds. Mr. Daoust’s comments were, “here’s a buck I shot opening day of bow (season) in Gore Bay. Had a blast! Surprised my heart stayed in my chest!”

Lawrence Briscoe, who has a home in Kagawong, shot an eight point, 190 pound buck and we received a photograph of Damien Merrylees, 13-years-old of Gore Bay, who harvested his first buck, an impressive 11 pointer.

And the winner is! Call me a sucker for a youngster that harvests his/her first buck ever, and a large one at that. The winner of a $100 gift certificate from Up Top Sports Shop in Mindemoya courtesy of the Manitoulin West Recorder is Damien Merrylees.

Congratulations, Damien and the rest of the hunters who sent in their photos and entered the contest.