TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix held a random prize drawing for its inaugural Big Deer Contest on Jan. 5. 

Winners drawn from more than 125 qualified entries were Cherokee Nation citizens Herbert Neal Blevins, Amelia Price and Jazmine Cookson.

“Congratulations to the winners of our first ever Cherokee Phoenix Big Deer Contest,” Cherokee Phoenix Executive Editor Tyler Thomas said. “The response to our new contest highlighting Cherokee Nation hunters was overwhelming. We’d like to give a special thanks to the Cherokee Nation Fish & Wildlife Association for sponsoring our contest.”

The Cherokee Phoenix had asked hunters to send photos of themselves with their deer between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022. Blevins, of Sand Springs, was the random grand-prize winner of $500. Blevins submitted a photo with an eight-point buck.

“It was a decent eight, but I’ve killed a lot bigger bucks,” he said.

Blevins, 66, has been hunting for 50 years. He learned how to hunt in Delaware County.

“I go out every year,” he said. “That’s my Christmas when deer season rolls around. That’s what I enjoy.”

Price, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Cookson, of Claremore, were consolation winners and received $250 each. Price harvested a nine-point buck during her state’s youth hunting season.

“It was opening day,” the 14-year-old said. “I love (hunting). It’s so much fun.”

The inaugural Big Deer Contest was sponsored by the Cherokee Nation Fish & Wildlife Association. All contestants were required to be Cherokee Nation citizens and legally permitted to take deer according to Cherokee Nation and/or their state’s hunting regulations.

Visit cherokeephoenix.org for a gallery of the eligible Big Deer Contest submissions.