Another Oklahoma deer hunting season has ended, and plenty of hunters might be feeling sad. Why not trade some sadness for some Madness?!
For the third year, March Rack Madness is returning bigger and better than ever.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will host this free public event from 1 to 8 p.m. March 5 at the newly renovated headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
This year’s event will feature prizes and seminars for those who attend.
“The purpose of March Rack Madness is to not only give the public a chance to have trophies scored by folks who are certified to take official measurements, but to also showcase some great trophies that are being harvested in the state,” said Dallas Barber, big game biologist for the Wildlife Department. “This gives the public a great opportunity to have their animal scored to possibly be entered into the ODWC Cy Curtis Award Program or even into the Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young Club.”
Anyone wanting to have a deer rack scored is invited to bring their antlers, both of which must be attached to the skull plate whether mounted or unmounted. Each participant may bring one or two racks, and the scoring service is free. The Department is anticipating more than 100 racks to be submitted.
In addition to white-tailed and mule deer antlers, scoring will also be available for elk antlers, antelope horns and bear skulls.
One change this year is that scoring will be conducted on a first-come-first-served basis; signing up ahead of the event will not be required. Trophies will be accepted until 7:15 p.m., based on availability of scorers.
Everyone who brings something for scoring will get a free one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma, the Official Wildlife Department Magazine. All visitors can enter an hourly drawing for a free updated Wildlife Management Area Atlas, a $25 value. And at the conclusion of the evening’s Madness, a grand prize (to be determined) will go to one lucky participant!
Those present will be able to attend seminars and share hunting stories with others. In addition, the Operation Game Thief exhibit trailer will be on display, which includes the popular “Wall of Shame” featuring wildlife that was stolen from law-abiding sportsmen and sportswomen of the state. Food trucks have been invited to set up during lunchtime. And the Department will offer a fish fry for dinner.
Deer racks are considered either typical or nontypical, and the scoring formula differs for each. Antler scoring involves measuring various characteristics of a set of antlers in inches, and then accounting for certain deductions to arrive at a final score.
Hunters whose items meet the minimum required scores and drying period will be eligible to enter the Department’s Cy Curtis Awards Program, which recognizes trophy Oklahoma mule deer, elk, antelope and black bear as well as the hunters who harvest them. The program began in 1972.
The Cy Curtis state record deer measured 248 6/8, a nontypical whitetail from Tillman County taken in 2004 by Michael Crossland of Grandfield.
Cy Curtis qualifying scores are 135 inches for typical deer and 150 inches for nontypical deer. For more information about how to apply for a Cy Curtis Award, go online to www.wildlifedepartment.com and search for “Cy Curtis.”
March Rack Madness is designed to highlight the quality of deer hunting in Oklahoma and how hunters play a vital role in managing the resource. By voluntarily embracing the “Hunters in the Know … Let Young Bucks Grow!” educational campaign, hunters have improved buck age structure over the past five years, a success that has been recognized nationally by the Quality Deer Management Association.
In recent years, the number of near-record racks has been notable, and the state’s deer harvest has consistently totaled around 100,000 animals annually.