Eye of the “buck-holder”

A few years back I heard a couple of hunters talking and showing off their buck.
Eventually it led to a few more hunters joining in the conversation and comparing their bucks as well.
I distinctly remember an older fellow telling a younger hunter, who I believe was in his late
teens, that his buck was no trophy. You could visibly see the younger hunters face “drop” with
what seemed like embarrassment or disappointment. I felt so bad for that younger hunter.

What is a trophy buck? Every hunter has their own perception of what they believe
defines a trophy buck. Let me tell you what I define as a trophy buck. A trophy buck for me is a
buck I have spent days and weeks patterning. It rarely happens when I have the opportunity to
harvest that buck, but when it does it’s special. It could be a buck I have been watching since
the summer or one that appears out of no where. If that’s the
case, it becomes my sole focus. It’s often not the size of the buck that make it a trophy, it’s the
hunters I am with, the camaraderie before, during, and after the hunt that make that harvest so
special. Naturally, we all would love to see that 140-150 inch class buck step out within shooting
distance. It would be fabulous. But let’s be realistic, that rarely will happen. I
have shot a few buck I specifically went after, and no, they weren’t the biggest bucks in the
state, but they were trophies to me. It is the chase or the story a certain buck
provides. It’s spending countless hours in the woods, watching deer along with all the hard work
you put into the seasons hunts. For me the hunt, the pursuit, and the memories from that hunt
give me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride when I finally put one down. I know
hunters that hunt public ground and have only shot one or two buck in their lives. I respect that. I also know
hunters that get a nice buck every year that hunt on private land. I also respect that. Both guys will tell you that
those bucks are trophies to them. The hunter that shoots one every year might tell you that the
6 pointer he shot 25 years ago is his favorite trophy because of the hunt, or because he “was with his dad”. You’ve heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well a trophy buck is
in the eye of the hunter. We all know every hunt, every kill, has a story that goes with it,
whether the outcome is favorable or not. You may not think that a hunter’s buck is a trophy,
but look at it from their perspective, they may be inexperienced, they may not have private
land to hunt, they may not have the same opportunities you or I have. But you know what,
they got the buck, they made the most of their opportunity. Regardless the scenario you need
to be happy for that hunter. That “hunting story” they tell may mean more to them than
you know.

Hunters need to stop being so critical of one another. The number of hunters in the
woods has been steadily declining, so let’s start encouraging not discouraging. Remember this!
And bite your tongue when you think of criticizing someone else’s trophy. Congratulate your fellow hunters for their accomplishments. We are a fraternity of hunters. I hope all of us share the same goals; ethical, quick clean kills, having fun,making memories, all while providing for our families.

Jonathan Samanas
Pro-staff writer

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