My Facebook post from yesterday concerning a scouting camera photo of a 10 point Wisconsin buck generated an avalanche of responses regarding whether or not the deer was a “shooter”. In other words, was the buck a trophy? Well, after reading the numerous responses, I’d have to say that opinions on the matter are pretty much equally split. I also have to say that a select few people on both sides of the argument believe steadfastly that their views on the matter are 100% correct.
Also, judging from the posts of several individuals, state game departments would be wise to start managing their deer herds strictly from a trophy standpoint…because “deer hunters are willing to spend huge sums of money to kill big deer”. I’m sure there are others who agree with this train of thought. State wildlife agencies should forget about trying to manage for numbers and instead implement management policies based solely on producing trophy class bucks. Wouldn’t
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that be great?!
In a word, no, it wouldn’t be great. Quite honestly, implementing such management policies could well spell the end of deer hunting, and hunting in general. Remember this, it takes money–a LOT of money–for state wildlife agencies to operate effectively and efficiently. While the idea of managing strictly for trophy bucks may appear appealing on the surface, there’s no way that a select handful of financially privileged hunters are going to be willing to “donate” the tens of millions of dollars that it takes each year to insure that state game agencies can continue to operate at an effective and efficient level.
And then there’s this; if such a policy were to be implemented, what then happens to the millions of deer hunters who can’t afford to chip in their fair share for these new trophy deer management policies and/or who have no intention of adhering to the new trophy deer management policies their home state has invoked? If they don’t have the resources to afford a deer hunt at home, I seriously doubt they’ll be able to come up with the funds to do an out-of-state hunt. So the outcome is inevitable. We’d lose millions of deer hunters and, just as tragic, billions of dollars in revenue for state wildlife agencies. Without adequate funding, wildlife management as we know it will cease to exist. All wildlife, not just deer, will suffer as a result.
In a perfect world we’d all have our little slice of heaven when it came to deer hunting; hundreds of acres of tightly managed ground inhabited by a bunch of giant bucks that never wandered off our property. We’d always have several 4 1/2 year old and older bucks to hunt without having to ever worry about somebody else shooting “our” deer. Unfortunately, for 99.9% of the deer hunters out there, this scenario will forever remain nothing more than a dream.
One more thing. In the event you don’t already know, we are in a constant, daily battle with the anti-hunting crowd. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re winning that battle. Fact is, we’re barely holding our own. Our ability to maintain our current foothold in the war against the anti’s is directly dependent upon sustaining hunter numbers. Unfortunately, we’re not doing real well in that battle either. Hunter numbers continue to decline almost yearly. Unless we can curb that trend, the future doesn’t look very promising. We must all do our part to try to recruit more hunters, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, political views, income level, place in life, etc.
Also, what’s considered “big” in one area may not be considered “big” at all in another area just down the road. For in the end, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. And everyone has at least a somewhat different definition of beauty. Likewise, what one person considers to be a trophy deer may differ dramatically from what another person considers a trophy. One of my most fond deer hunting memories concerns a doe I shot on my first ever deer hunt. That episode took place in the Wisconsin north woods more than 40 years ago. Yet I can still vividly recall the sights, sounds and smells of the moment. In my mind, that doe will forever be a trophy!
If I could ask that you take one thing from these writings, it would be this: We shouldn’t be so quick to convict and condemn other deer hunters for their views on what constitutes a trophy. What one person considers to be a trophy deer may differ dramatically from what another person considers a trophy deer. And what’s considered “big” in one area may not be considered “big” at all in another area just down the road.
Also, just because a whitetail does manage to make it to the magical age of 4 1/2 (which is consider mature) doesn’t automatically guarantee he’s going to boast a huge set of antlers. I spent the first 25 years of my deer hunting career chasing whitetails in the north woods of Wisconsin. There’s zero agriculture in that part of the state, which means the deer live almost exclusively on twigs, grasses and weeds.
Remember, in the end, beauty (and trophy status) truly is in the eye of the beholder.