17-Year-Old creates a social media army to clutch the grand prize in the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Hunter Goodman of Columbus, Miss., knew he had something special when he pulled the trigger that January morning in Boligee, Ala. The 17-point Greene County buck was special – exceptional enough to win the sixth annual Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest and the prize package valued at more than $3,000.
“I had a little bit of everything running through my head,” the 17-year-old junior at Victory Christian Academy in Columbus said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Goodman’s father, Dean, who hunts on a family friend’s land that borders the Tombigee River in Greene and Sumter counties, said the big buck’s uniqueness didn’t register with his son at first. “I told him he’d killed the deer of a lifetime. He didn’t know what he had. I’ve been hunting my whole life and I’ve never seen a deer like that.”
Once the Goodmans entered the contest, they worked their extensive social media network to draw a huge number of visitors to the ALBBAA Facebook page (Facebook.com/AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures) to vote by “liking” the photo. The winning entry was one of 93 photos submitted to the contest. Photos of deer harvested in 22 of the 23 Black Belt counties were entered. The winner was determined by the number of “likes” each photo received. Goodman received 2,433 “likes.” A total of 14,464 votes were cast in the contest that ran throughout the 2017-18 deer season.
“We are delighted that so many people got involved in this year’s contest, our largest to date and that we had entries from across the entire Black Belt,” said ALBBAA Director Pam Swanner. “It’s a testament to the great hunting opportunities that exist in the Black Belt that we had entries from every Black Belt county except Choctaw this year.
“We are also so thankful to our friends who contributed prizes this year and to Big Daddy Lawler and his ‘Gettin’ Outdoors’ radio program in Selma for helping us publicize our contest and in attracting some great business partners who supported us with donations.”
As the winner, Goodman will receive a Lifetime Alabama Wildlife Heritage License, valued at more than $200; an Alabama Hog Control Thermal Hog Hunt for three, valued at $1,800; a Winchester XPR 270-caliber rifle from Central Alabama Farmers Cooperative in Selma, valued at $550; a $300 cash donation from The Management Advantage in Helena; an American Hunter 200-pound Tri-Pod Feeder, valued at $129, plus a $50 gift card from Rountree Outdoors in Selma; and a $250 cash donation from the Southeastern Land Group.
After Hunter bagged the massive buck – which weighed 175 pounds and unofficially registered a Boone and Crockett score of 157 5/8 on its 18.5-inch antler spread – his family mobilized to see if it could come in on top in the ALBBAA contest.
“We have a huge Facebook following and at Hunter’s school, which also has the church where we go, we got teachers and classmates and his girlfriend and her parents involved. It was like a political campaign,” Dean Goodman said. “We even made flyers and put them up in the dentist’s office and the doctor’s office and the chiropractor’s office that I go to. All the people we pay money to, we figured they could help us out.”
His wife and Hunter’s mom, Shilo, said she started looking for a contest the day that Hunter bagged the buck. “It was such a big deer, we wanted to see if Hunter could get some recognition for it. This is the first contest we’ve ever done and I told Hunter it will be our last!” she said. “It was fun, but it was stressful.
“I have 1,918 Facebook friends and I owe all of them a huge apology for driving their newsfeeds crazy,” Mrs. Goodman said. “I sent private messages to all my friends, asking them to vote. Then I found it was easier to just ‘tag’ them in the comments on the photo so they could go straight to it and click ‘like.’ Then, I got my mom’s phone and father-in-law’s phone and did the same. The last couple of days, we were going up to perfect strangers and asking them to vote for my son.”
The next Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association contest will be the Big Gobbler Photo Contest starting on Facebook this spring.
The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, and Wilcox.
The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens. For information, go to www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org.