True trophy bucks come with age, not from arbitrary antler configuration restrictions.
I can pretty much guarantee you that no man in the history of planet earth has ever wanted to put an arrow into the pumpstation of a whitetail buck more than I do. Buck hell! Any deer broadside within 30 yards would do just fine thank you very much.
You see, at a very young age I began following my dear old dad into the mystical Northern deerwoods of Michigan with a bow and arrow in my little hands way back in the not so roaring 1950s. We didn’t really know what we were doing in those early years but our passionate bowhunter spirit was pure and driven and we really worked at it.
Swear to God, try as we might, we never killed a deer! In fact we rarely saw a deer! But just seeing tracks, droppings, the occasional spoor and that effervescent distant waving white tail turned us on no end, and our backstrap dreams never diminished one spit!
Many years later after surely 1000s of hours of hardcore hunting, I finally arrowed my 1st whitetail on a grand October morning in 1970 and that thrilling, magical moment lives on in my very being nonstop to this day! The earth moved I assure you!
Killing a maniac, ultra-high strung, over-pressured Michigan deer with the bow and arrow is truly one of life’s most challenging, borderline impossible endeavors, believe me.
Like most hunters, when a legal deer gives it to me, I take it!
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Well, for a very long, long time that was my mindset, but over the years as I increased my hunting season time afield from days to weeks to months, I learned more and more through painstaking trial and error and naturally became more deadly and selective.
Eventually I learned the simple system by which we can age deer on the hoof and I began to pass up on bucks under 4.5 years of age.
A trophy hunter I am not, though I must emphasize that every kill I luck into is a hard earned trophy to me regardless of species, size or gender.
I cannot think of anything in life that is more personal than making the decision to kill an animal for all the right reasons. I cannot imagine being so belligerent as to think anyone has the audacity to make such a decision for another.
Sound science dictates an annual harvest of surplus animals based on habitat carryon capacity and population dynamics, along with winter weather conditions and other science based determinations. This percentage of surplus harvest has nothing to do with the age or trophy considerations.
One has to only look to some of the best quality deer management states and regions like Buffalo County Wisconsin and South Texas to prove that contiguous landowner’s decisions and a consortium of regional hunter decision making has and will always produce the biggest and best bucks.
With more and more landowners and hunters learning how to age bucks on the hoof by body conformation, the increased gratification of bagging a mighty stag is spreading like wildfire across the country.
The venison from a doe fills the bill for backstrappers while we balance the herds while at the same time we let the younger bucks walk with visions of future encounters for headbone excitement, if that is what you prefer.
True trophy bucks come with age, not from arbitrary antler configuration restrictions. With APRs, a 1.5 or 2.5 year old buck with legal antlers would be the absolute worst buck to kill. Conversely, a 6.5 year old stud that doesn’t qualify with legal APRs would be illegal to kill, yet would be the ultimate specimen to take out of the herd.
I find this way of thinking to be classic bureaucrat folly, overbearing elitism and extremely wrongheaded for anything resembling real quality deer management.
Fortunately my beloved birthstate of Michigan just came through in a pinch and made the right decision by turning down mandatory APRs.
The vast majority of hunters I share campfires with, young, old, novice and veteran alike agree with the individual choice approach to quality deer management and a quality deer hunting experience.
Let deerhunters across America open up and increase the communication and conversation on how to age bucks on the hoof, focus on reducing doe numbers where applicable, and come to an understanding that trophy quality deer is in the eye of the beholder, and that we the people deerhunters can make it better without further divisive, complicated and non-science based regulations.
With more than 40 million albums sold, rock legend Ted Nugent is equally well known as the nation’s most outspoken proponent of our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, conducting thousands of pro-gun, pro-freedom, pro-American interviews in major media worldwide. Nugent is a New York Times best-selling author whose works include “Ted, White & Blue —The Nugent Manifesto;” “God, Guns & Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Kill It & Grill It.” This year, his award-winning Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV show celebrates its 500th episode! For allthings Nuge, visit www.tednugent.com
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