Game Animal Nicknames

Our Favorite Nicknames for the Game Animals We Hunt and Fish

Lots of outdoorsmen and women love to give nicknames to game animals. These are some of the best we've heard.

Sometimes we become so enamored with the animals we pursue that they grow special places in our hearts. Maybe it's because they trick us so often and spoil our efforts. It often leads us to attach nicknames to our favorite game animals.

In an attempt to give them the respect that they deserve, these names may sometimes poke some fun at them, but they're well-meaning and technically signs of love.

Let's review some of the ones we have heard over the years, and see if we can find a few that are new as well.


There are cold water species and warm water species, saltwater gamefish, freshwater gamefish, and those who live in the brackish waters near our country's coast, but if they will hit a lure and put a bend in our rod, then we want to catch one.

Steelhead: Chromer, Hardhead

nicknames for game animals

Craig Raleigh

Chinook Salmon: King, Tyee, or Blackmouth

Atlantic Salmon: Landlocked Salmon, Fiddler

Brook Trout: Speckled Trout, Brookie

Largemouth Bass: Bucketmouth, Lunker, Hydrilla Gorilla and Bassquatch

Smallmouth Bass: Bronzeback, Smallie

nicknames for game animals

Craig Raleigh

Northern Pike: Water Wolf, Hammer Handles

Walleye: Marble Eyes, Walter

Bluegill: Bream, Sunny

Crappie: Strawberry Bass, Calico Bass, Papermouth, Sac-a-Lait

Catfish: Whisker Lips, Mud Cat, Polliwog, Chucklehead, Shovelhead

Tarpon: Silver King, Silver Sides, Poon

Red Drum: Redfish, Puppy Drum, Channel Bass

Bluefin Tuna: Tunny, Ahi

Striped Bass: Stripers, Rockfish

Bonefish: Silver Ghost, White Fox

Game Birds

If it flies and if we can make a meal out of it, we want to chase it. We know that a good gun dog is paramount, but naming your pet isn't the same as coming up with a nickname for these birds.

Wild Turkey: Thunder Chicken, Boss Tom

Ruffed Grouse: Partridge, Thunderbird

Ringneck Pheasant: Rooster, Ditch Chicken

Woodcock: Timber Doodle, Mud Bat

Sandhill Crane: Ribeye of the Sky

Canada Goose: Honker

Drake Mallard: Greenhead

Canvasback: Bull-Neck

Pintail: Sprig

Small Game and Big Game Animals

These land-based critters are the ones we spend the most time chasing, and sometimes getting defeated by, in our outdoor lives.

Bull Moose: Bullwinkle, Bruce

Coyote: 'Yote, Pasture Puppy

Bobcat: Bob, Wildcat, Bay Lynx

Elk: Wapiti

Grizzly Bear: Griz, Teddy

Pronghorn: Speed Goat

Whitetail Doe: Baldy, Flat Top, Dolores

Whitetail Buck: Stud, Swamp Donkey, Booner, Shooter, Bullwinkle

The Reason for the Nicknames

Depending on where you live and how long you've been hunting and fishing, the nicknames for these creatures will change from region to region. They are most often funny and quirky with a reflection on what they mean to each individual.

Anthropomorphism may be a big word, but it has a simple meaning: We just love to give names to things so that they are more immediately identifiable to us. If you say "Swamp Donkey" to just anyone, you may get a strange look. But say it to a deer hunter, and you better have pictures because they'll want to see just how big that antler spread is...

While we may have left some out, the fact is that we know these animals all so well because we've spent a lifetime learning them. That's a testament to how many hours you and I have spent in the field and on the water!

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube. Go to Rack Hub and use the coupon code Craiger for a new way to display those antler sheds!