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University » Articles » Judge Not

Judge Not
by Russell Scarbrough


Photo courtesy of member "Grabwad"

With the direction of deer hunting today, I am always thinking about this new idea that we all have to harvest monster bucks while hunting, or that we somehow don’t measure up to today’s fabricated standards. I can’t help but wonder if these new, self-imposed rules have already or will one day diminish some of the joy and fun that we once enjoyed while hunting deer in years’ past. A person also has to ponder: “Will these new rules eventually cause hunters to not care as much about the hunting experience itself and instead just the gross antler score?” I think when you push the “big buck craze” too much, for some people it can become a total distraction and these people might say, “Hold up. This whole thing has gone too far for me.”


Many big buck hunters forget their own humble hunting upbringings, forcing their kids into a craze that can often lead to frustration and eventual lack of interest in the sport.

With out a doubt, the more intense the management, the less enjoyment some hunters will have. I believe that all deer hunters are entitled to a positive experience when afield, and if shooting a doe or a young buck provides them with that enjoyment, then so be it. It should be the hunter’s personal choice and his alone. I can promise you that 99.9% of hunters today who are managing and farming for trophy bucks have shot one or several young bucks in their hunting past. One thing that boggles my mind are the guys who have just started bowhunting being misled by a friend or co-worker who has been hunting for years. The experienced hunters somehow convince the new guys that they need to tag a trophy buck and nothing else, or their efforts are somehow unworthy.

Sometimes I find myself asking the question: “With all the rules and media pressure on shooting trophy bucks, are we drastically reducing the number of hunters who might decide to take up the great sport of deer hunting just because they have the misconception that they shouldn’t take a lesser buck?” If so, how much good have we actually done as deer hunters if we increase the size and number of older class bucks we are harvesting, but at the same time reduce the number of friends, family, and new hunters who will keep the tradition going?

One of the biggest problems we have with deer hunting today is trying to make everyone’s expectation levels the same across the board. Newcomers to the sport—and even veterans—should have the option of harvesting any buck they choose at that particular moment, as long as it’s within the guidelines of the state or property the hunter is hunting. I prefer to make my decisions on a hunt-by-hunt basis. Your own personal deer hunting religion tells you to either pass on the little bucks and wait on what you judge to be a good buck by your standards, or take the first legal buck you can. Today, some are adjusting the rules for those people who want to take trophy bucks and disregarding the feelings of the hunters who are just as happy shooting a nice little 6 point. Various skill levels and levels of satisfaction differ from person to person, and some deer hunters need to realize that hunting trophy bucks and raising trophy bucks is not what everybody wants to do.

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