Reality Check

As a society, we are more connected now than at any time in history.  With this hyper connectivity, however, reality has a tendency to get a bit skewed.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard how a lot of people are concerned that airbrushed magazine covers and carefully curated social media accounts of celebrities give girls and women an unrealistic view of beauty and the female form.  As silly as it sounds, deer hunting has followed this same trend.

Because of hunting magazines, social media, and hunting shows, deer hunters’ expectations of killing a monster buck have never been higher.  Deer management groups touting dubious results have lulled hunters into thinking there’s a 150 inch deer hiding behind every tree and if you’re not seeing them, you’re doing something wrong.  This mindset could not be farther from the truth.  Deer hunters, it’s time to get real.

The first thing you need to realize is that big bucks are rare.  Even in prime deer locations, true giant whitetails are a thing of rarity.  It takes a lot of things to go right for a deer to not only reach maturity, but also have a trophy rack of antlers.  I’ve seen captive deer that were in the 4.5 to 5.5 age class with less than impressive head gear.  It makes it apparent how important genetics are and not just age and nutrition.  Because age and nutrition are factors that people can somewhat control, folks tend to get discouraged when they can’t produce trophy deer when they’ve limited their kill and spent a fortune on food plots.  You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken shit, and if the genetics aren’t there, it’s not happening.  If you live in a place that’s never produced good deer, you should probably stop, “holdin’ out for a 150.”  Which brings me to my next point…

A 150 inch deer is big.  Damn big. Almost everyone now uses the Boone & Crockett scoring method to relate size and this has caused somewhat of a problem. The problem being the majority of people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.  When someone tells you how big the deer they saw was, automatically deduct 30 inches.  If they’ve killed it, deduct 20 inches until proven otherwise.    You get good at things by repetition and if you haven’t actually scored a lot of deer and secondly, seen a lot of big deer, you’re probably going to be pretty poor at field judging them through a thicket, running full tilt at dawn.  Even people who are good a judging deer make mistakes.  It also sets people up for disappointment when their 145 incher tapes out at 125.  People would probably be a lot happier if they ditched the score and went with a simple pass/fail system.  If he looks good to you, shoot him.  If not, don’t.  And quit apologizing for killing something you’re afraid your fellow hunters wouldn’t shoot.

In life, time is your most valuable resource.  The same is true for hunting.  You have to start getting real about how much time you’re putting in the the stand.  You don’t get much time to hunt?  Statistically speaking, being in the tree stand when a big deer rolls by is slim(outside of the rut).  The people you see on tv and in magazines kill big bucks every year because it’s their job.  They hunt every prime bit of weather from September to January in well known big buck states.  Their business is killing big deer and then making you believe there’s a shortcut you can take to achieve this success.  What you see isn’t real.  They didn’t kill the deer with the products they’re selling.  Most of the time they killed it by hunting a lot of hours in a productive place.

Unrealistic expectations are dragging this sport down.  We’ve gone from people who are just glad to be out in nature and appreciating the animal they kill to score driven dummies who apologize for killing a deer if it’s not a trophy.  Ten percent of the hunters kill ninety percent of the big bucks.  It’s been this way forever and will probably continue this way for the foreseeable future.  If you don’t get to hunt a lot in prime time places, the fact is you probably won’t kill a big deer with any regularity.  Big deer are rare in prime time places.  They’re even more rare in less than ideal places.  You aren’t Mark Drury and placing yourself on a pedestal does nothing but set you up for disappointment.  It is not noble to pass smaller bucks for 10 years when you’re hunting in a place that has no big deer.  Remember why you hunt.  Remember that this is fun.  Have realistic expectations and let the rest fall into place.