KODIAK — The amazing thing isn’t that 15-year-old Stephanie Blondin won this year’s Eric Lochman Big Buck Contest, beating hunters many times her age.
It’s that she’s done it twice.
In 2006, Blondin won the contest as a 10-year-old, just four years removed from shooting her first Sitka blacktail on Kodiak Island. This year, she proved the win was no fluke by repeating her top honors, defeating 65 other competitors.
“She smoked everybody here,” announced Jesse Glamann of Mack’s Sport Shop, which sponsored the contest. “It was really close until we got to No. 1.”
Deer contests are scored with a complicated system that measures a buck’s rack under a series of criteria including the number of points on each side, the spread of the antlers and length of the points.
The Boone and Crockett Club, a nationally recognized arbiter of game records, lists the world record Sitka blacktail as 133 points. Anything above 108 points is considered worthy of inclusion on the record list.
This year, 25th place scored 93 3/8 points, which would have been good enough for fifth place last year, Glamann said. The top 15 all scored above 100 points, but Blondin’s winning rack scored 115 5/8, almost 5 points ahead of Mel Roe, who had a rack of 110 6/8. In third was Kyle Blondin, a cousin of Stephanie, with a rack of 109 6/8. Judging was performed by Rohrer Bear Camp.
“We went out for a hike, and it just came over a ridge,” Blondin said of her winning kill.
The Blondin family lives in Larsen Bay for much of the year, which allows for good hunting.
“We wait until the rut . but once it hits, we have lots of time,” she said.
The rut, or mating season for deer, starts in November, but near-record snow fell across the Kodiak archipelago that month, and Blondin said she didn’t get her winning buck until early December.
“The hike is a little harder, but it’s cold so (the deer) are moving around,” she said of conditions.
Heavy snowfall also tends to concentrate deer herds.
“I think there was quite a few more deer to choose from,” she said.
The Erich Lochmann Big Buck Contest is named for a longtime Kodiak hunter who unexpectedly died during a sheep hunt. The event is conducted by Mack’s, and winners take home a wide variety of prizes donated by hunting and outdoors companies. Top prize this year was a package worth $2,185.
Blondin said she intends to enter the contest again next year, and with her history of success, she could be considered the best deer hunter on Kodiak Island.
“Maybe we’ll finalize that if I win again next year,” she said.