It is hard to define the words, trophy deer. Is it in inches of antler? The age of the buck? Maybe it is something deeper? Experience of the hunt, regardless of what the deer looks like? Time spent at hunting camp? As hunters, we have all heard the term “trophy deer”. For each of us it means something different. That is what I want to talk about.
Trophy Deer is a Deeply Personal Subject
Obviously, this notion is a complicated and deeply personal subject. Regardless of your geographic location, all hunters are talking about it. Some hunters are even obsessed with it. Depending on where one hunts, how, and for how long are where this relative and deep personal meaning come from.
A lot of people judge their trophy solely on the size of the rack. There is nothing wrong with that. Where the problem lies is when those people begin to judge other hunters based on their ideals. In my opinion, too many feel that a trophy is no longer in the experience or the accomplishment. They place the emphasis on the antler alone. With this attitude, it’s easy to see why hunters can be made to feel ashamed of their harvest.
There’s no doubt that you’ve seen a post from someone on social media in which they were criticized for the deer they chose to harvest. This happens way more than you think. It needs to stop! As a hunter, you are engulfed by a wave of emotions after legally harvesting an animal. Shame should not be one of those feelings.
Realistically Clarify What a Trophy is to You…And to You Alone
As a hunter, you must realistically clarify what a trophy deer means to you. And to you alone. Of course, trophy deer taken on public land in Virginia can mean something considerably different than one killed on a hunting club in Nebraska. In some parts of America any deer collected is still a major accomplishment for any hunter. There are plenty of places where deer are not overabundant or over sized. Still there are even more spots where deer are so heavily pressured that any harvested deer is worthy of high praise. Just remember that a trophy does not even mean it has to be a buck.
I’m sure all of us have those fond memories shared with friends and family in the deer woods. Days filled with laughter and excitement. Of taking our kids, first kills, last hunts, drag outs and more. And that, is precisely what a trophy is all about. It is solely in the eyes of the beholder. The humbling reality of “trophies” is that they mean little to anyone other than the hunter who collected them.
So next time you see someone post their deer on social media or at a check station, congratulate them. Encourage each other as hunters!
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