2018-01-18 / Outdoors

Big Buck Night: Garton captures First-place honors

By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff


CARY GARTON, who tagged a pair of big bucks in 2017, was among those in attendance Sunday at the annual Leelanau County Big Buck Night at Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau. CARY GARTON, who tagged a pair of big bucks in 2017, was among those in attendance Sunday at the annual Leelanau County Big Buck Night at Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau. Avid deer hunter Jeff LaCross couldn’t stay away from the annual Leelanau County Big Buck Night, held Sunday at Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau.

He wanted to see and hold the antlers of the massive buck shot by Cary Garton, a sheriff’s deputy with the county.

“I’ve only seen one 150-inch buck in this county once and that was on horseback,” he said.

Garton was there with European mounts of both his deer, a 125-inch 10-pointer shot with a crossbow during the second week of October and the granddaddy of them all.

To no one’s surprise, Garton’s 5-and-a-half-year-old, 148-inch 10-point earned him first place.

“I was pretty happy with the first (buck),” said Garton, still grinning.

Garton provides a real-life example of the old adage, “never quit.” He shot his buck on the last day of rifle season after a neighboring hunter headed out late in the day, spooking the monster to Garton’s stand.

And, Garton said, there were plenty more big bucks left after he had filled his tags.

“Of 10 shooter bucks I know of, only three were shot, so I would say less than half are taken by hunters. I know all of my neighbors, so I probably would have heard if others were taken,” he said.

Fourth-place winner Marsha Vingsness, who owns hunting property in Suttons Bay Township with her brother, John, also cracked a wide smile when retelling her story.

Vingsness recalled watching a mature buck break across a field to chase off two smaller bucks when leaving her stand after the evening hunt on Oct. 28. The next morning that same buck, who was tending the same doe, wandered a bit too close to her blind. She killed the buck with her crossbow.

“It was the first deer I’ve shot on my property,” she said. Her brother also shot two nice bucks.

Randy Middleton collected third place with an 8-point, and Brandon Priest’s 10-pointer was third — thanks to some paternal help.

“I sat in my dad’s stand, used his clothes and his gun,” said Priest, who connected on the second day of the firearms season.

Also present was Leland Township fruit farmer and taxidermist Mark Steimel, who in September tagged the first Leelanau bear shot by a state-licensed hunter in about 50 years. Bear season was closed in the county for most of that time.

After connecting on what might become a Pope and Young bruin, Steimel called and texted some friends. Word quickly spread on social media. His first call went to friend Daryl Couturier, who found Steimel still sitting in his tree.

“He said, ‘Are you still in your stand?’” Steimel recalled. “ I said, ‘I got too many people calling and texting me to get down.’”

About 30 Leelanau County sportsmen attended the loosely organized event. Previously, Dick’s had sponsored a buck contest that required a $10 sign-up fee. But owner Ron Plamondon said not enough people joined the contest, so he rounded up prizes from businesses to give to successful hunters.

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