The winners of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ second annual Big Buck Photo Contest have been announced by Gov. Jim Justice.
Bella Kesterson of Franklin was selected as one of the winners. She was awarded a two-night state forest cabin stay.
Kesterson bagged her eight-pointer with a 16.5” spread after 30 minutes into the solo hunt on the first day of bucks firearm season on private property. An education major at Marshall University in Huntington, she is the daughter of Sam Kesterson and Connie Eason.
“I want to thank the DNR and everyone who submitted a picture,” Justice said. “Each and every one of them was truly amazing. It’s important that we encourage everyone, including our children, to go outside, learn about nature, and enjoy the outdoors, just like we did when I was young. It’s an honor for me to contribute by promoting these great kids and adults who’re taking advantage of our beautiful outdoors. That’s some really good stuff right there.”
The contest, sponsored by the WV DNR and West Virginia Department of Tourism, was open to residents and nonresidents and included a youth division for hunters 17 and younger and an adult division for hunters 18 and older.
To enter the contest, hunters had to submit a photo with a buck they harvested during a 2022 hunting season along with a short account of their hunt. Each entrant was required to show proof of a valid 2022 West Virginia Hunting License and had to include the 13-digit DNR-issued game check number for the buck.
Finalists were chosen by random drawing from all eligible entries and winners were selected by a judging committee made up of Justice, Director Brett McMillion, DNR director, and Chelsea Ruby, tourism secretary, or their designated representatives. Winning photos were selected based on photo composition, size of the buck’s antlers, number of antler points and how well the hunt was described.