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Grit and Grace outdoors bringing back Newkirk wildlife traditions

By Everett Brazil, III

The Newkirk Herald Journal

NEWKIRK — The deer check-in process was long a tradition in the Newkirk community, as outdoor enthusiasts would gather together to see who brought in the largest animals. The tradition has recently fallen by the wayside as the process has shifted to online activities, but Grit and Grace Outdoors is seeking to bring that tradition back, however, and is inviting the hunting community to share their catches with the local residents at their shop on East Seventh Street in Newkirk.

Curtis Grace is co-owner of Grit and Grace Outdoors with his son, Jason, and is eager to celebrate the tradition.

“What we’re trying to do is bring back memories of when you brought in your deer,” he said. “You had to be a check stand, and they used to weigh and check your deer in. Today, they do it online.”

Grit and Grace Outdoors operates out of the old Blackjack Bait and Tackle, located at 712 E. Seventh St. The facility has always been a bait and tackle shop since it opened in 1971, although it has undergone several ownerships through the years. The check-ins weren’t performed at Blackjack Bait and Tackle, however, but the Hilltop Grocery Store, located about a mile east of the Arkansas River on River Road. The facility was not just a grocery store, but also bait shop. The store has long since closed, but the memories remain.

“When they weighed in deer, people would go out there, seeing what was harvested for the day,” Grace said. “Those scales have been long gone since they’ve done the online check-in, and we’re trying to bring that tradition back for fun.”

The tradition first returned for the 2019 season, only limitedly during rifle season alone. It has expanded for the 2020 season to include archery, rifle and black powder. The deer will be weighed at Grit N Grace Outdoors, with prizes going to the largest doe and buck in each division.

“The does will have a chance for a fishing trip at Kaw Lake, and a crappie fishing trip,” Grace said. “If an adult wins the fishing trip, they have to take a kid fishing right along with them – no cost, just fishing.

Winners of the big buck competition will have a chance at a head mount for the harvested animal.

The youth deer season competition has already concluded. The buck winner was Lane Barrows, weighing in at 182 pounds, while the doe winner was Peyton McClure, with a doe of 89 pounds.

Archery and blackpowder seasons have already commenced, with blackpowder ending Nov. 1, and archery ending Jan. 15, 2021. Rifle season is Nov. 21 – Dec. 6, and holiday antlerless deer season is Dec. 18 – 31, leaving ample time for hunters to bring in their harvested animals to participate in the contest, and help bring back Newkirk memories and traditions. Those who participate just might have their pictures posted on the wall inside the store to display their big catch.

“Everybody go out and try to harvest a good, mature animal, and bring it in to Grit and Grace Outdoors,” Grace said. “Come in and look at the pictures we have along the wall, and the good times found in the great outdoors.”

For more information, contact Grit and Grace Outdoors at (580) 362-1016 or visit their Facebook page at


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