Bigfoot_1 Best ZONE picture: A WI hunter sent us this stunning trail camera photo of Bigfoot and he wrote: “My wife went into town to have the film developed. When I returned home the doors were bolted and she had a bat in her hands. She was squealing as to what was lurking in our woods.” A lot of you thought the photo was a fake, but I’m not so sure.

Rattler_1_1 Runner-up: The giant rattlesnake; from my highly unscientific research I gather that 95% of ZONERS (including me) are scared as hell of snakes.

Worst shot: Dick Cheney’s peppering of his lawyer-friend Harry Whittington on a TX quail hunt last February. It was the start of a nightmare year for the Veep, who proved instrumental in the GOP losing control of the House and Senate. At least Harry recovered.

Dec_29_06 Top buck: John Schmucker’s Ohio crossbow monster (left) had 36 points and gross-scored 304 non-typical. Regardless of final net score, it will go down as one of the top 5 or 6 whitetails ever killed in N.A. Bill Crutchfield’s 268” Maryland giant was a close second; it’s the largest buck ever killed on the East Coast.

Best new TV show: Yes I’m biased, but “Whitetail Revolution” was a hit on Versus and soared to the top of the prime-time field-sports ratings. Thanks for watching! Season 2 could be even bigger and better (I killed some bucks and had some spectacular encounters and misses you won’t want to miss).

Dumbest idea: The World Hunting Association’s plan for professional hunters to dart-drug bucks inside a high-fence on TV for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. Thanks to outrage from hard-core hunters, hunting organizations and ZONERS the WHA dropped the drugging and planned on killing the deer, though the competition in a penned environment was still a problem. Whatever happened to the WHA anyway?

220pxsteve_irwin Biggest loss: Steve Irwin 1962-2006. Critics called the Croc Hunter an egomaniac and even an anti-hunter, but I never sensed that. I liked the guy and most of you did too. RIP, mate.

Best places to shoot a giant whitetail: Saskatchewan, Iowa, Kansas and Ohio continued to produce monster bucks, especially non-typicals. Not as many giants were killed in Illinois as in seasons past, a declining trend?

Best news: A scientific study by VA’s Responsive Management company found that 78% of Americans support hunting, up from 73% in 1995.

Stupidest Stunt: Country music star Troy Lee Gentry was accused of killing a tame black bear named “Cubby” on video in a pen and trying to pawn if off as a wild MN animal. Nice press for hunters, huh?

Best wish-list: Remember I asked for your wish list for Christmas? I got a lot of great comments, but Matt won the contest hands down. He blogged: “I’d have to say not going back to Iraq so that I can stay at home with my wife and other family members…and if that doesn’t happen, I’d like to be safe when I go back to Iraq, along with all those I go with.” Amen man, thanks for your service.

Matt just emailed me back: Hey Mike thanks a lot (for the Underarmour prizes)!!!! Unfortunatelly I’ll still have to go, but all volunteer Army. I really enjoy your blog, and rest assured I’ll find a way to read from Iraq. Keep up the good work.

Good luck Matt and Godspeed from all of us ZONERS!

Safe and Happy New Year everybody, let’s chat in 07.