A mid-summer phenomenon kicked off for the first time three years ago and is about to make its appearance again.

The Lincoln Parish Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will hold its annual banquet Thursday night, August 10, at the Ruston Civic Center.

The first event turned heads not only around northern Louisiana but around the country because of what took place that sultry August night.

While this area is home to several outdoors events each year, nothing comes close to what happened that night.

More than 400 folks showed up for this, the very first banquet this group sponsored.

What the local chapter did caught the attention of national headquarters in Wisconsin and the following year, one of the founders of Whitetails Unlimited, Jeff Schinkten, traveled from Sturgeon Bay to Ruston to present the chapter with three awards.

The local chapter swept the awards given to new chapters around the country, including highest membership, highest net funds generated and highest net proceeds.

Schinkten should be able to accumulate more frequent flier miles as he returns to Ruston Thursday to present yet another award, and what a humdinger of an award this one is.

For 2016, the Lincoln Parish Chapter had the most memberships in the nation, with over 500 chapters nationwide.

With 400-plus in attendance the inaugural year followed by 600 last year, Glenn Scriber, local chapter president, said this week that more than 600 tickets have already been sold this year.

“We have sold all our tables and have a few individual tickets still available for Thursday’s banquet,” said Scriber.

“We have a couple of special guests joining us this year, including Jonathan Bordelon, the state’s Deer Study Leader.

Also, we are honored to have one of the nation’s best-known bow hunters, Barry Wensel, who will be here not only on the night of the banquet but will also be here Friday night where he’ll hold a bow hunting seminar,” Scriber added.

Wensel has a list of accolades as long as your arm. The Iowa resident has taken three Boone and Crockett whitetails with his bow, including a 190+ inch monster with his recurve bow.

Partnering with his brother, Gene, the Wensel duo have had the highest known success rate for guiding bowhunters on public land for Pope and Young class bucks. He alone has guided over 200 bowhunters to Pope and Young class bucks.

One of the more interesting events with which Wensel has been credited is his being personal hunting guide to Jack Nicklaus, professional golfer.

We asked Wensel how this all came to be.

“My brother and I had just started guiding and were in Montana. One of Nicklaus’ reps heard about us, approached us as Jack was up there elk hunting; he wanted to try for whitetails and that first year, my brother guided him.

For the next seven years, I was his guide and became good friends with Jack and his family.

He and I ended up going to Africa where we bow hunted together. That’s probably the most fun thing I ever did in the guiding business; he and his family are absolutely good people,” Wensel said.

His bio sheet contains a note from this fascinating guy that gives you a glimpse at what those who attend the banquet will get to hear….”I have been charged by lions (had to shoot my way out), hippos; treed by grizzlies, killed two charging wild boars in hand to hand combat; fell off a cliff; had confrontations with warthogs, black bears, black mambas, etc.”

The night of Thursday, August 10, with doors open around 6:00, should be a special night for those interested in whitetail deer….and in hearing the stories the incomparable Barry Wensel has to tell.

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