<– Previous Article: Geometry Lesson
–> Next Article: Analyzing the Sounds of the Woods

By Dick Scorzafava

Today there are more trophy whitetails and more hunters than ever.   This increase in the sport of deer hunting does, however, offer some surprising tendencies.  Many hunters are losing the enjoyment of the sport as they pursue a monster buck.  Formerly they happily pursued deer; a deer, any deer or any buck.  When they filled their tag in a good hunt they felt successful and were content with their accomplishment.

Now more than ever the pressure is on to bag a “real” deer or a monster buck.  It seems as if fellow hunters are exerting this pressure to have others prove themselves not only as hunters but as “men” by harvesting a trophy class buck.  It seems to follow that this misguided peer pressure is threatening manhood itself, as manhood is achieved or sustained by bagging a trophy buck season after season.  Peer pressure also works like a status symbol, and the latest status symbol is none other than a big game wallhanger.

In order to insure their success and their achievement of these goals there are many individuals who have the means to afford very expensive hunts “guaranteed” successful in the harvesting of a trophy.

These types of trophies are just as “store-bought” as one purchased from a catalog or previous owner.

What this hunting philosophy does is actually cheapen the years of hard work and hunting many serious hunters have expended in their pursuits.  It’s like purchasing a college degree, sure it may look like the one from a serious student but it in no way represents the same personal effort or achievement.  It should in no way reflect the same sense of personal satisfaction.  But for some  less scrupulous individuals, hunting is not the point.  Rather the only important thing is bringing home a head to brag about.  Hunting involves many things.  It’s lots of hard work, long hours, stiff joints, cold feet, and ups and downs it is also the near misses, the joy of hunting and the thrill of harvesting a trophy animal.  These facets of hunting become of little import when a hunter is motivated solely by peer pressure.

This is not to say that those hunters who are true trophy hunters are doing themselves an injustice.  It is not an attack on the individual who wishes to heighten the challenge of the hunt by concentrating on a certain individual.  The one-on-one matching of wits with a mature and clever buck is the ultimate confrontation.

Trophy hunters are happy with their efforts at the end of the season even if they come up empty handed, because they had a  satisfying hunt competing with a whitetail buck.  They even look forward to the lessons they will learn and the experiences gained.  Typically this type of hunter has advanced year after year and finds that it is relatively easy for him to down a young buck.  Very often this type of hunter will use a bow to make the hunt even more of a personal challenge.  He seeks this greater challenge to extend his hunting experience and time hunting, not just to make a quick kill or put meat on the table.

The point is that there is nothing wrong with being a discriminating hunter, but neither is there anything wrong with having a good hunting experience that resulted in bagging a buck that was less than tremendous.  If a hunter has hunted a buck fairly and well he has no need to make excuses for his lack of antler growth or size.  Not all whitetail deer reach trophy proportions. Not all hunters can bag a record holder.  Obviously there are many million more hunters than there are record book listings, so it follows that many hunters enjoy the sport for what it is and they take an animal when the opportunity presents itself.

If on the other hand a hunter finds that he is passing up very acceptable bucks because they are not good enough he needs perhaps to re-examine his reasons for hunting.  He needs to return to the basics and stop letting peer pressure dictate his actions.  Most of all he needs to forget about what he’ll hunt and just enjoy the hunt.  There is nothing wrong with hunting a plain vanilla buck.  What is important is the hunting.

The whitetail deer is a fascinating and tempting animal.  His nature and environment offers hunters a lifetime interest and a life time of learning as well as a lifetime of  enjoyment.  If you find that this pleasure is being diminished by peer pressure maybe you need to find or hunt with different peers.  Maybe you need to hunt with someone whose ideas are more in sync with yours.   You should be hunting for your own personal reasons and enjoyment, not your hunting buddy’s reasons.

Think back to your last hunting season.  Were you happy with your hunt?  Did you enjoy the time spent in the woods?  Did you feel that you let good bucks go by awaiting a monster buck?  Did you feel that your hunting season was a good learning experience or an unfortunate fiasco.  If you feel that you weren’t happy or did not enjoy your last experience, re-evaluate your goals and re-frame your thinking.  Maybe you are an unwitting victim of peer pressure.  If you feel that you might be, adjust your attitude by getting acquainted with those who have similar views, and get out in the woods and begin really enjoying hunting again.  It’s not too late.

<– Previous Article: Geometry Lesson
–> Next Article: Analyzing the Sounds of the Woods