MORNING COULD NOT come quick enough.
It seemed like I had already been settled in my tree stand for hours, but when I checked my watch, I saw that it had only been 20 minutes. The light layer of fog that moments ago was hovering just above the ground, was now starting to lift —just a little.
There he stood. I never heard him, never saw any movement. Yet there he was, looking more majestic than my game camera indicated. However, I am sure it’s the same buck.
His drop tines were unmistakable and set him apart from any other beast in the forest. He took a few more steps in my direction, and I could finally see his massive frame. My heart beat faster as the monster buck cautiously stepped closer and closer. Just a few more yards would place him in my shooting lane.
Now I ask you, isn’t that what every deer hunter wishes for?
A four or five-year-old whitetail buck might look like the one depicted above—and you might see one like that on your lease. However, in the real world, most hunters will end up taking a nice two or three-year-old deer.
Free-range whitetails that get that huge rack we all love to see, don’t get big being stupid. They know how to stay hidden during the day and like to travel under the blanket of darkness.
As a matter of fact, the only time you might see a monster like this is during the rut, when big bucks have one thing on their mind—and safety is not at the top of their list.
I realize that hunting television episodes will show a hunter scouting, waiting in his tree stand. They’ll even even take time to turn and talk to the cameraman about their hunt so far. Lo and behold, they score on a huge whitetail that would make us all drool with envy.
All of this is completed in 30 minutes, but that is not the way it happens in real life.
Can it ever happen? The answer is yes—even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. Can you win the lottery? Sure, but the odds are against you. That’s exactly why most hunters settle for that smaller buck.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Any whitetail you take, either with a bow or a gun is a trophy—your trophy.
Anyone who tries to tell you differently is not the one who spent hours in the woods with you, scouting—has not placed any game cameras out—has not put up any tree stands.
They have not spent the days and weeks it might take to finally see your trophy headed your way. The only thing they should say to you is ”Congratulations!”
If a young hunter bags a spike horn during his or her first year of hunting, is that not a trophy? Should they wait for that big buck to appear and pass up the excitement of taking their first deer? My answer is no.
Whenever we have a “newbie” join our hunting party, we try to make sure he or she is in the best spot to at least see some action. They might not get the shot they dreamed about. Or they might get that shot and miss because they were excited.
The point is that he or she will remember that first hunt, as being filled with action—and that is important.
If a young person gets up at oh-dark-thirty, takes a long hike in the woods, sits in a tree stand and sees nothing, I can guarantee that hunter will lose interest in this sport quickly.
I think hunter participation is down in numbers now because of the need for instant gratification that’s abundant in our society today. Young people are used to seeing action on their computer games all the time. The only way this might happen in real life is if the hunter and other experienced hunters in your immediate area agree to practice QDM (Quality Deer Management).
In any deer hunting game, you can shoot at a nice buck every five seconds. It makes it sound as if it might be easy to find a monster buck. However, boredom is not limited only to the young hunter. Many grizzled veteran hunters have also been duped into thinking that a monster buck will soon appear.
The entire outdoor experience is lost—what a shame!
If a hunter has spent hours and hours in tree stands, morning after morning with little sleep and long days in the heat or the rain, after a while, a hunter might just say “Enough is enough, and the first whitetail deer that makes the mistake of coming into my range is going down!”
That’s exactly why even a seasoned hunter will settle for a two or three-year-old buck and be thrilled to take it.
More and more we hear the familiar phrases that come as the season nears its end. “If it’s brown, it’s down” —or “you can’t eat the antlers anyway” — or “The younger deer meat is as tender as a mother’s kiss”
Whatever the reason you choose to take any whitetail of any size is a personal choice. You are the hunter. You are the one putting all those hours into practice. You are the person who exercised patience for weeks waiting for the buck of your dreams. You, and only you, should decide whether the deer you see is your “trophy” —or not. Despite what you may have heard size does not matter.
The only thing that really matters is that you have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]