As the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce gears up for its Second Annual Big Buck Contest, there’s one hunter with something to prove.
“I just signed up last night,” said Margaret Achcet of Amsterdam.
Last year, she won the contest, taking a 199-pound, 9-point buck with a single shot from her Marlin .30-30 rifle. She still gets excited talking about the experience.
“One shot, and it was down,” she said. “People said, ‘You’re done for the rest of your life. I’ve hunted for 30 years and never seen anything like that.’ ”
The buck was 20 pounds larger than the nearest competitor, easily beating out the other 70 participants. This year, however, she’ll be defending the honor against more hunters.
Last year, the contest covered only Montgomery County, but since the chambers of commerce of Fulton and Montgomery counties merged, both counties are involved this year.
“We think it will only get bigger and better,” said Brennen Parker, chairman of the chamber. “Fulton has a long history of successful hunters.”
He said that for such rural, agricultural counties, hunting competitions are a great way to promote local business.
“Montgomery and Fulton counties have a great deer population,” he said. “We thought we would take advantage of that to build the local economy.”
With the added incentive of prizes and competition, hunters might be more inclined to buy new equipment in an attempt to improve their chances.
“We sell a lot of guns, obviously,” said John Havlick, owner and operator of Frank’s Gun Shop in Gloversville, adding that recently he’s been stocking hunting clothing, stands and buck lures.
Much of his business comes during deer season, and with Fulton County included this year, he could see an increase in sales.
“Last year, they had a great turnout in Montgomery, lots of hunters, lots of sponsors, some great giveaways,” he said. “This year, with Fulton County, it should be even better.”
The contest will take place over the regular deer season, with separate divisions for bow, muzzleloaders, youth and rifle hunting. Cash prizes will be determined by how many sign up. Registration is $25.
Havlick expects the competition to get hot this year.
“Some guys will spend all season waiting for the monster they saw on their trail cam,” he said.
Others, like Achcet, might just have a stroke of luck.
She took her winning buck in the first hours of opening day. Her husband spooked it to her on a short drive across state land.
She’ll see its big head and antlers above her fireplace every day thanks to the $500 cash prize, which she spent on taxidermy, but “I’ll probably never see another one,” she said.