Triple Trophy family

Saline County clan meets lofty hunting standard

Posted: January 28, 2018 at 1:58 a.m.

The Hinkson family of Benton is serious about its deer hunting, and each member strives to earn a Triple Trophy Award every year. En route to that goal, Ed Hinkson Sr. bagged a 140-class buck last season. Sara, Tehya and Edwin Hinkson III shot their first deer with compound bows while hunting from popup blinds. Edwin Hickson III practiced diligently with a compound bow throughout the summer in preparation for the 2017 Compound Bow Challenge.

Every deer hunter dreams of killing a deer every season, but it takes more than dreams to bag three in a year with a bow, muzzleloader and modern gun.

Accomplishing that feat entitles a hunter to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's coveted Triple Trophy Award. So far, the Game and Fish Commission has bestowed 423 Triple Trophy Awards, but the eligibility period ends on April 1. In 2016-17, it awarded about 2,000, and about the same number the previous year.

Obviously that's an elite group among a statewide total of more than 300,000 hunters, and one Saline County family accounts for a fair number by itself.

Meet the Hinkson family. Their homestead, Edwin Hinkson said, is "square in the middle of nowhere," a gray area in the Paron school district that has a Benton mailing address.

Hinkson is a dealer representative for Ditch Witch. His wife Sara keeps the household running. Their children are Tehya Hinkson, 17, and Edwin Hinkson III, 11. Edwin Hinkson Sr. and his wife Sandy are in the mix, too. All are avid deer hunters, and all have won multiple Triple Trophy Awards.

"We love deer hunting," Hinkson Jr. said. "We're kinda eat up with it."

Tehya Hinkson has won seven Triple Trophy Awards and has killed 26 deer. Edwin Hinkson III has won four consecutive Triple Trophy Awards. Sara has won it twice. Hinkson Sr. and Sandy Hinkson have won it "a bunch," Hinkson Jr. said.

It's old hat to them, but this year was different. Previously, Sara, Tehya and Hinkson III satisfied their archery requirements with crossbows. For this year, Hinkson Jr. threw down the Compound Challenge. Crossbows weren't allowed. The crossbow hunters would have to fulfill the archery requirement with compound bows.

They all got Hoyt compound bows except for Sara, who uses a Bear.

"It was hardest for my son," Hinkson Jr. said. "He wanted to shoot a compound, but he couldn't pull enough weight to be legal. He does pushups all the time and works out, and he was all the time showing me his muscles. Once he got it [the bow] broke over the first time at 40 pounds, he knew he could do it."

Young Hinkson could only draw the bow standing up, though, so his father erected a ground blind tall enough to shoot from a standing position.

The trio practiced every evening in the summer. They shot from multiple stands at multiple targets in a variety of situations and angles. They used targets shaped like deer.

On Sunday Oct. 2, the family went afield after returning home from church. Phenomenally, Sara, Tehya and Edwin III all arrowed and recovered a deer from different stands and different locations. Tehya and Edwin III shot theirs so close together that they don't know who shot first.

"They challenged each other to see who was going to get it done first," Hinkson Jr. said. "My daughter was in a stand by herself. We don't know who let their arrow fly first, but it was within five minutes of each other."

Tehya got a doe. Edwin III got a 6-point buck.

"My son actually shot and missed," Hinkson Jr. said. "He shot underneath it. The buck ran 20 yards and came back looking. The second time he made a perfect shot. I told him the good Lord was smiling on him, and it was his day."

It only got better for Sara, who killed a 51/2-year-old, 142-inch, 10-point buck with her muzzleloader. She shot it at 106 yards with a .50-cal. Thompson/Center Encore with 100 grains of Triple Seven and a 235-gr. T/C sabot.

Hinkson Sr. killed one of his biggest bucks, a mature 8-point, during the modern gun portion.

Sara, Tehya and Edwin III all satisfied the modern gun requirement with the same T/C Encore with a barrel chambered for 270 Winchester. The Encore is a convertible firearm that can be fitted with a barrel for any chambering, making it the most versatile shooting platform available.

The Hinksons hunt on about 3,000 acres. It's a mixture of family owned land and land they lease from a timber company. They use a lot of game cameras, and Hinkson Jr. said they inspect an average of 50,000 photos annually, starting in August.

"We've got most of our deer named," Hinkson said. "We can be pretty choosy about the bucks we go after, but we have to hunt when the kids have an opportunity, so we take what we were given in my son's case.

"Kids talk a big game over what they are going to do, but then suddenly one becomes big enough, if you know what I mean."

Hinkson has learned over the years which parts of the property deer use the most. He has multiple stands in each location to take advantage of prevailing winds for a given day. The ground blinds are the only ones that are related to bait.

"For muzzleloader and rifle, you can sit back further," Hinkson said. "For bowhunting we try to keep them 20 yards or less. All our rifles and muzzleloaders are sighted in at 100 yards, but our stand locations give you shots in the 50- to 75-yard range."

The Hinksons emphasize scent control. They bathe with scent-free soap and wash their laundry with scent-free detergent.

Tradition runs deep in the Hinkson family. At age 6, Edwin III killed his deer with the same firearm that Hinkson Jr. used to kill his first deer at age 13. It was a Remington Model 1100 youth model shotgun that Hinkson Jr. bought with money he earned from mowing yards. He bought it from the original C.B. Thompson grocery store in Rose City before it became Fort Thompson Sporting Goods.

With the compound challenge conquered, Hinkson has not yet thought of a new hurdle.

"We're a very competitive group," Hinkson said. "When I offer up a challenge, we have to be aware that if the challenge is not met, to realize it's not that you failed. You tried, and it didn't work out. We mentally prepared everybody that if they didn't do what they tried to do, that it's not the end of the world.

"But to get it done and get it done as quick as they did, that's amazing."

The Hinkson family of Benton is serious about its deer hunting, and each member strives to earn a Triple Trophy Award every year. En route to that goa...

The Hinkson family of Benton is serious about its deer hunting, and each member strives to earn a Triple Trophy Award every year. En route to that goa...

Sports on 01/28/2018