Editors Blog

Huge Deer are in the Eye of the Beholder

Six-point whitetail.

The Facebook post was a definite cause for celebration. One of my friends had just posted a photo of a whitetail buck he had shot this weekend. He had been bowhunting, and shot a beautiful 6-point buck. I was one of the first people to "like" the post. Several others had also posted complimentary comments. Oh, but course, it didn’t take long for the naysayers to start chiming in.

"Young buck," said one individual.

"Puppy," wrote another.

That’s all it took, I’m sure, to take the wind out of the hunter’s sails. 

As sad as it is, that’s what deer hunting has become for a lot of folks. Somewhere along the line, things got blurry. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m the first to celebrate a huge buck. Check out my posts, and they’re everywhere. It’s all about the deer; I don’t care who killed it. However, I’m equally all about deer in general. Doesn’t have to be measured in inches; only has to have a smiling hunter behind it. That’s not only what it’s all about; it’s what it should be all about.

I’ve heard all of the arguments:

"You should have let that deer grow another year!"

"Just think of what he could have been next year!"

"Why didn’t you just shoot a doe if you wanted meat?"

Deer hunting is much more complicated than such sound bites. For starters, if you think such thoughts, you assume you know what type of property the guy hunts. You assume you know what the deer density is in his region. You assume you know how many deer he’s shot in his life. You assume you know how long it’s been since he’s shot one.

We all know what happens when you assume.

Maybe he only has access to a small private parcel. Maybe he hunts public land. Maybe he’s got 10 kids and doesn’t give a rip about antlers. Maybe he actually works for a living and only gets to hunt a couple days each fall. Maybe he loves eating venison and his freezer happens to be empty.

It doesn’t have to do with "just killing something." Deer hunting is an evolutionary process. To many hunters (inexperienced or not), a  6-point yearling buck walking through the woods is the equivalent of the biggest deer in the world. Asking them to pass up small bucks is a sure recipe for turning them off to hunting. In a way, it’s a lot like today’s catch-and-release mentality in fishing. The same guys who preach, "Throw ‘em all back," are the same ones who have photo albums stacked with images from 20 years ago that show them holding sagging stringers of bass, pike and walleyes. It’s a classic case of, "Do as I say, not as I did."

My strong feelings on this subject probably stem from the fact that I’ve seen many sons and daughters of avid hunters who have either dropped out of hunting altogether or never really embraced it from the start because they’re sick of hearing such garbage from folks who are supposed to be their blood brothers. 

Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t matter. This guy chose to use his tag on that deer. And he’s proud of it. If you’re happy for him, let him know it. If you are holier than thou, keep your mouth shut. And keep your fingers off the keyboard.

20 thoughts on “Huge Deer are in the Eye of the Beholder

  1. Phillip

    Excellent buck bigger than any of the two I have taken in the last three years since I started hunting white tails. I put what time I can in the field but with a full time job and family commitments. After so many days in the field waiting for that big one walk in, I am just happy to be lucky enough to fill one of my tags each year.

  2. sbcuffer

    This is so refreshing to hear from a deer mag. I choose to wait for bigger bucks at the risk of eating my tag. I shoot does to fill my freezer, but that is my choice. When did the "choice" go out of hunting. This buck is a beautiful animal and was the hunters choice. God bless him. People, don’t you get that if we don’t band together we will loose. If you don’t think this is a war for hunting rights you are delusional. Great story.

  3. American-Nimrod

    Beautiful! The sacred beast harvested is always a blessing! From scrub-bucks to wall-mount monsters, it’s all good! Wherever and whenever as long as it’s in the proper season that is designed around the truth, actuality, and reality of any local deer herd! My first buck was a 136 pound scrub-buck 5 pointer. I was 20 and it was the greatest moment of my life! I have funny, astounding, and memorable stories to tell of my kill shot with the .300 Win. Mag from 75 yards that will be retold even after I die!

    The anti’s, naysayers, and wannabe elitists that give nuthin’ but guff over such a perfect balance are extra chromosome laden chimps that need to be ignored until they go away!

    I luv self-evident and undeniable truths!

    Keep up the good work and carry-on!!!

  4. Bill

    While I agree with everyone posting in support of this hunter, the real question is where do these jackass holier-than-thou views come from? From the "hunters" who sit passively in front of their televisions and get programmed and brainwashed by the god-awful hunting shows on today that do nothing but glorify killing ONLY five-year-old bucks and B&C deer. It’s utterly disgusting–and these shows program our hunters to be ugly, greedy hunters. And self-centered ones at that.

  5. Jeff

    Great article, Mr. Schmidt. Just yesterday I related how 3 idiots tried to ruin my kid’s first hunt and deer by being nasty about his buck being small.

    I love hunting. Hunters… not so much anymore.

  6. Rod

    any deer killed by any means legally is a thing to feel good about. My first deer was a doe then a young forked horn like above. I was so proud of that young forkhorn that i made a small plack for his small rack on hung it on my campers wall. I had a lot of handshakes and grins from my fellow hunters as well. Something i will never forget

  7. Tess

    Every hunt should be a celebration, every animal taken should be a celebration..

    This statement.. "Doesn’t have to be measured in inches; only has to have a smiling hunter behind it."… Sums it up!

    Happy huntin’ ya’ll… Keep that spirit alive… Celebrate!

  8. Jeff

    As long as he did it legally and is happy — IT IS A TROPHY!
    Hunters telling others what SHOULD be killed is causing more damage to the sport and our image than any other issue.
    When these comments and size restrictions become the norm, how will we convince the public we’re not just trophy hunters?
    I’ve seen hunters, new and old, quit because of these small minded individuals comments.
    Tell your friend Congratulations!

  9. Tim

    I agree wholeheartedly. The elitist mentality that permeates the sport has proven to be more harmful than helpful. HSUS and other orgs. that aim to kill our sport or remove our tools LIVE for this division. It is well known that they use nebulous data to support their arguments and that, in their eyes, 4 hunters sitting at a table talking about a divisive issue becomes a "50% of sportsmen don’t support this(pick your issue)" thereby giving them a foot in the door to incrementally chip away at our sport. Keep in mind that Brady and HSUS have mutually beneficial goals- No hunting=no need for guns, no guns=no need to hunt.

  10. Craig

    Thats a damn fine buck, he should be proud that he killed it. You never forget your first buck. Killing a deer with a bow is very challenging and rewarding, nothing to be ashamed of there.

  11. MikeinMO

    Thank God and good management practices that there are very few places in the US where taking a young buck will do any real damage to the deer population. There are plenty of bucks at all ages available for hunters, and sadly a shrinking number of hunters to hunt them. Salute the hunter who brought this delicious animal to his family’s table.

  12. Aaron

    I agree to a point. But after you kill a few smaller bucks why not start letting them pass and shoot some does to fill the freezer. I have never killed a 2 1/2 year old buck so that is my new goal. Although I have also congratulated a grown man for shooting a spike this year. It was his first bow kill. I am thrilled for anyone to experience success in the field.

  13. bobow

    Well done Dan. For those that want to put down this kill to say let him grow, you could say that to every stinking buck out there unless it it 9-10 years old plus.

    People that put down a person for this are really "little people".

  14. charlie

    I would say congrats on the hunt. On the other hand all these dopes on TV preach all the crap about big trophy bucks.Look at the places they hunt with little hunting pressure compared to the everyday guy. I’m happy if it’s a doe or a 4 point or 8point. Sounds like they forget what it’s about. Happy hunting nomatter what you shoot….

  15. Rob Mathes

    Well said Dan! If a hunter decides to legally take a deer and has paid for his/her tag, then that hunter can harvest whatever deer they want. Regardless of the land they hunt. There may or may not have been other opportunities to harvest a different deer, that’s what makes hunting so fun. . . the unknown. If a hunter legally harvests a deer and enjoys doing so, that needs to be celebrated; NOT ridiculed. Shame on anyone who thinks otherwise!

  16. Jeff

    Our fellow hunters should be able to kill any deer they would like to put Their tag on. Today people are getting so judgemental about what other people kill which doesn’t make since because someone else killing a deer they deem to small doesn’t really have any affect on them. As hunters we should all be on the same team and be supportive of each other for each kill be it a doe or a buck of any size.

  17. Greg

    Who cares what kind of land it was. We all want others to respect our right to hunt, so it is just plain wrong for one hunter to direspect another’s right to legally harvest whatever deer they choose. We need to be supporting each other.

  18. KSWhitet8l

    Good post. I agree with you about the comment about you dont know what kind of land he is hunting on. If he killed this with a bow on public land that receives a lot of pressure, that’s something to be proud of. Also, if he’s new to bow hunting, what a great way to build experience. We’re all not the Drury brothers so let’s not forget what it’s all about, spending quality time in the woods with God and his creation!

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