Gov. Jim Justice last week recognized the winners of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ first-annual Big Buck Photo Contest during a special event at the State Culture Center.
The Governor announced five adult winners and surprised all youth finalists with a free lifetime hunting and fishing license. Jeremy Martin of Sutton was one of the victors.
“We were completely blown away by the response to our first-ever Big Buck Photo Contest. I absolutely loved looking through all the photos of so many of our state’s incredible hunters of all ages,” Gov. Justice said. “I couldn’t possibly be more proud. You truly love our great outdoors and you’re passing that love on for generations to come. It’s the same love I have for our state. When I say I’ve been over just about every inch of woods in this state, I’m not lying. You have a guy, who just happens to be your Governor, that truly shares your love for hunting in our unbelievable state. It couldn’t be any better.”
At the Governor’s request, all youth finalists – not just the top five – will receive a free lifetime hunting and fishing license. Adult winners will be able to select one of the following prizes: Free lifetime West Virginia hunting, trapping and fishing license; Two-night stay in a Cabwaylingo State Forest cabin; $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card; $500 Cabela’s gift card or Two-night stay in a Seneca State Forest cabin
Finalists were chosen by random drawing from all eligible entries. Winners were selected by a judging committee based on photo composition, size of the buck’s antlers, number of antler points, and the description of the hunt.
Gov. Justice has shown a steadfast commitment to expanding hunting opportunities across the Mountain State. Since taking office, he’s worked with the Division of Natural Resources to increase access to public hunting lands. In just five years, West Virginia has increased state-owned hunting lands by 85,896 acres and now has more than 400,000 acres of state-owned wildlife management areas. The investments are paying major dividends, with 2021 hunting and fishing license sales reaching their highest levels in more than 20 years.
The Big Buck Photo Contest is one of the many promotions spearheaded by the Governor to increase participation in the sport. The contest, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Tourism and the WVDNR, invited sportsmen, women, and children to show off their buck harvest last fall. The response was overwhelming with more than 1,600 contest entries in just five weeks.
The other four Adult Division Winners were Jeremy Allen of Given, Connor Boothe, Lindside, WV, Austin Riggleman, Moorefield, WV and Frank Williams of Fraziers Bottom.
For more information about hunting and fishing in West Virginia, visit WVdnr.gov.