Are we as hunters getting too caught up in the “big buck craze”?
Over the last decade, the deer hunting world has changed significantly. Bow as well as firearm advancements and accessories have helped a lot, but the massive surge of technology is really the driving force.
Social networks, YouTube, and other sites have made it so easy to share our experiences with each other online. While this is fantastic, it is, in my opinion, also starting to drive down morale between us hunters.
People are beginning to look past the experience of the hunt, focusing on the size of each other’s deer. Don’t get me wrong; bragging rights between buddies are part of what gets us out in that stand before daybreak. But this is starting to go beyond that.
It seems that nowadays, you can’t post a picture of a buck unless it’s more than four years old with at least a 120-inch spread. If you do, you are bound to see comments like:
“Should have let it walk until it got bigger.”
“I’d eat tag soup before I would shoot something that small.”
“Need to leave those size bucks for the kiddos to shoot, not a grown man.”
It is honestly very upsetting to see other hunters call each other out like that. These comments are demoralizing, hurtful, and downright rude to the person who decided to share their experience with you.
Can you imagine yourself in their shoes? You put in countless hours scouting an area, picking the perfect spot, and many early mornings and late evening waiting for your chance. All that work finally presents you with an opportunity to take a deer. You take a picture and share it with the world… to be made fun of.
Are you starting to see my point?
Some people just don’t have the opportunity to let younger mature bucks pass to keep growing into monster trophies. In some areas, if you let one walk, you will probably hear a gunshot from the next farm over as someone else drops him. You are then left with an unfilled tag or are forced to rush to find another to fill it with.
We also need to look at a newcomer’s point of view. They probably spend more time looking at these photos and reading comments than anyone as they go after their first few deer.
Your first deer hunting experience is unforgettable, whether you’re 10 or 50. Most of our first deer are not trophies by any means, except to the person who shot it. We must not forget that.
I recently saw a young man in his early 20s post a photo of his first deer. It was a smaller six-pointer he had taken with a bow on public land. You could see the pure excitement on his face as he posed for the photo.
The comments were mostly positive at first, but some people had to ruin the moment for him. One read along the lines of:
“Congrats on your first deer, but I would have let that buck walk. Should have waited for something bigger to walk by.”
Are you serious? It was his first deer. Could he have waited it out until later in the season? Sure, but then he might not get a deer at all. I mean, the chances of a big buck just walking by in broad daylight outside of rut are low, especially on public land.
By saying these things to new hunters, you are putting it in their heads that all that matters is the size of the deer you take, not that you’re actually out there enjoying the experience.
If all new hunters begin to think they should only spend their time going after huge, mature deer, they are going to quickly become frustrated. This could start to seriously hurt the tremendous turnaround in people getting involved in hunting that we’ve seen over the last few years.
We just need to move away from this mindset of “big buck or no buck.” Just get out there to enjoy nature, the thrill of the hunt, and the bond we all share as hunters, not to mention filling our freezers with delicious, all-natural meat.
The next time you see someone share THEIR deer hunting trophy, help build them up, not tear them down. As long as that deer was taken legally and ethically, just say, “Congrats, nice deer.”
Just because you don’t think that deer was anything special doesn’t mean they didn’t.