Are you a trophy deer hunter? What exactly does that mean? Is it something that is measured in numbers? Maybe for you it is a buck that scores a minimum of 170” , and for someone else it just needs to have horns of any size on its’ head. Yet, for others, it doesn’t need antlers at all.
So, what about me, am I a trophy hunter? And, what is my idea of a trophy? Well, to answer that in short, I consider every single deer that I take to be a trophy! Now, don’t get me wrong; I do have standards. I do not believe in shooting small bucks. Again, everyone has a different idea of what a small buck is, and to be completely honest, every buck cannot be valued on size alone. Sometimes a buck reaches maturity but never grows a really large rack. And in my eyes, any mature buck is a true trophy, regardless of rack size.
Okay, so what is my idea of a small buck? Personally, I do not like to shoot anything less than 150”. With that said, yes, I do have bucks on my wall that score less than 150. However, these are mature bucks that simply did not score that well. The buck that I consider to be my greatest trophy to date only scores in the 130s after deductions, but he was a very old buck and he had an amazing rack. He just did not score well. Also, remember, this is just my idea on what a trophy buck is; your idea might be different. And, maybe where you live the deer do not get as big. I realize antler size can vary by region. If that is the case, though, pursuing a mature buck becomes even more rewarding.
Getting a mature buck where you live is impossible, you say. Believe me, I’ve heard that excuse a million times. And, it is that type of thinking that prevents you from getting a mature buck. You have to change your mind set. I assure you, there are mature bucks everywhere; they are just harder to come by. You have to do your homework to find them, and then you have to be willing to put the time in to hunt them. Harvesting a mature buck is a challenge, but it is also extremely rewarding!
Alright, enough about bucks for now. Earlier I stated that I consider every single deer I take to be a trophy. So, what do I mean by that? Well, deer are beautiful, magnificent, and intelligent animals. They are more than just antlers to hang on the wall; they are food on the table, and most importantly they are living creatures. While many people have the image of hunters being heartless animal killers, we as hunters typically have a greater respect and connection with the animals that we hunt. Now, that is not true of all hunters, nor of all game. But, I believe that most hunters feel that respect and connection, especially when they are hunting for the purpose of putting meat on the table. And, as a deer hunter, I can honestly say I feel it!
So much for getting away from the topic of bucks! There are some deer hunters that hunt for that trophy rack only, and not for the purpose of eating the meat. I personally have a hard time supporting these hunters. I completely understand the thrill of getting that trophy buck. I know the excitement and the rush you get from the kill. And, if you are simply a trophy hunter, then donate the meat. Maybe you don’t like the taste of venison, or you just don’t want to mess with it, then do something good with it. Don’t let all of that meat go to waste; there are so many hungry families out there that could benefit from your generosity. And, there are numerous programs in place for this purpose; it’s as easy as dropping your deer off at a participating meat processor. So, continue to hunt your trophies, but do it with a greater purpose in mind.
Okay, now back to what a trophy is to me. So, I’ve covered how I feel about buck size and maturity, food for the table, and my respect and connection with the deer I hunt. I consider all of these things to be essential parts of being a trophy deer. But, there is one more aspect that makes every deer I take a trophy. And, that is a memory. I have a wonderful memory from every deer I have ever taken. Each and every deer has a story behind it. There may be no antlers on the wall or no life-size mounted doe standing in the corner, but there is a beautiful memory that no one can ever take from me. And, in my mind, these memories are trophies; they are moments in my life that have special meaning to me.
Well, that pretty much sums it up. You now know my idea of what a trophy is. You may not agree with me. And, that’s okay; this is just my opinion. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinion. What do you consider to be a trophy? How do you feel about hunting for a rack only? Please leave your thoughts and comments below, or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.