Editors Blog

Big Bucks: Has Deer Hunting Lost its Way?


Best Deer Hunting and Venison Recipes

Smiles and venison are two of deer hunting’s best rewards.

by Daniel E. Schmidt

That headline is not a rhetorical question. I want everyone who reads this to respond to this blog and provide their thoughts. One sentence. That’s all that’s needed.

Deer hunting used to be about deer camp and good food and great friends. It used to be about “I’d like to shoot a buck, but I’ll settle for some meat if needed.” It used to be about friends and neighbors caring and sharing so much that compassion ruled above the number of inches on a buck’s head.

I’m not about romanticizing things that weren’t there. And I’m certainly not about time machines and fairy tales. I am about human decency and putting things into enough perspective that kindness and Christianity are above and beyond any personal agenda. It could be just me, but I see too much of the latter and not enough of the former in today’s deer hunting culture. Sure, we all love to daydream about shooting that buck of a lifetime. We buy new gear … treestands, trail cameras, bows, guns and ATVs … in hopes of giving ourselves a little bit of an edge in accomplishing these goals.

But how many of us draw a line in the sand and decide enough is enough during the course of deer season? How many of us say, “you know what, I’m out here to enjoy myself and have fun.” How many of us leave our self interests at the door and do everything in our power to make sure that our hunting partners, friends, relatives and blood brothers also have a good time out there?

Each year I hear about and see first-hand the ugliness that comes with property ownership, intensive trophy management and the insanely ridiculous goals of “managing” micro properties for trophy bucks. It’s a vicious cycle and, most times, one that’s centered around unattainable goals. In the end, many hunters find themselves unhappy, unsatisfied and downright surly when they realize they can’t keep up with the Joneses.

That’s it for my thoughts. What are yours? Agree or disagree? Or do you have a different take?

Bonus question: What are your overall thoughts and impressions of the deer hunting shows you see on TV? Do TV producers get it right? Are the shows you watching an accurate reflection of what happens in your woods? What would you like to see more — and less — on the hunting shows aired on the three major outdoors networks?

Checking out for today. I’m ready to hear from you!


7 thoughts on “Big Bucks: Has Deer Hunting Lost its Way?

  1. TJ

    A note to my reply YES TV SHOW ARE ABOUT BIG BUCKS. With that said I yearling buck is dumb last year I danced with one around a tree He thought I was a doe it was hard to scare him away without telling the other deer where I was. I let the young ones grow so they can grow up to be a challenge. Every show I watch is about the rack (Look at the size of this rack what a beautiful buck) yes the are beautiful even majestic I have some 200lb does around that are very smart but there are no doe permits in this area. So I hunt for bucks that are over a couple of years. I did like what hunter64 said about still hunting you have to become part of the environment and just enjoy being 4ft from a squirrel. ENJOY THE HUNT not just the rack or the meat the entire experience!!!

  2. TJ

    I agree with everything you said. We used to have a deer camp in the Adirondacks. There were no doe permits but the comradery was great. We had fun and told stories. I’m much older now and live on top of a mountain in the Berkshire’s of MA the deer population is small at best. And doe permits are scarce for good reason. I was bow hunting before the compound was even thought of .I made a re-curve in High School and still have and can shoot but I had to switch to the new tech. due to an injury. I do let young bucks walk by and I hunt a old wise buck. But if one of those younger bucks made it to 3 of older. My neighbor has friends come from the eastern part of the state where dear population are higher and that used to be fun but know most of the guys don’t even go out they just want eat and drink. To bad time has definitely changed things. I could write a book on this and the old days but I will shut up. Thanks for the topic.

  3. rmathes25


    I agree that “inches” are WAAAAY over emphasized in the TV world. I enjoy the shows that show the harvest of a 100 inch deer or even a doe, just as much as a 200″ non-typical.

    However, I personally LOVE bowhunting and know many “new” entrants into the world of hunting simply due to the advancements in technology on the compound bow. Sure, maybe some of these “new” entrants are a bit skewed on their views of a “trophy” deer due to some TV shows. But at least they are in the woods supporting the outdoor way of life.

  4. dsimcako

    Yes, attitudes have changed. Where I hunt there are a lot of factors for it. The biggest being a deer heard management plan put in place to control Chronic Wasting Disease. My grandfather told me stories of times in Wisconsin when there were “no deer”. Not literally of course – but close to it. He blamed hunters shooting too many does. When the state started to force hunters to “earn a buck” by shooting a doe first some hunters went to other regions of the state, but some got used to shooting does, justifying the taking of multiple does “just in case” they see more than one buck. Here, quality hunting is about “how many” for some. Killing every animal within 25 yards of your tree, showing no restraint or enjoyment from just seeing a deer. I know a person who has taken a buck, a doe, and 2 fawns this season – really? I feel like I’ve over harvested by taking two does over the past 4 seasons, I don’t understand taking 3 in one. I shouldn’t judge, they are following the regulations. I’m just scarred that by the time my children are old enough to take to the field that Wisconsin’s deer heard could return to numbers that my grandfather endured for a number of years.

  5. hunter64john

    I think Dan is right. When I started hunting in the late 70’s, hunters were everywhere. People were more apt to use a deer camp,or even stay at a hunter’s place for a few days. The memories of previous hunts are always retold. People were more wiling to help each other out. A tradition that I still carry out to this day. Nowadays, hunters use tree stands, which to me is a whole lot easier than the way I do it..walk the land. It seems to me, that sadly, more people are obsessed with getting that great rack(tv media plays a huge role in this), mgmt of food plots, etc. The plain truth is, if a hunter became stealthy in the woods, especially in snow, we’d all know just how hard and rewarding hunting is. For as long as I’ve been hunting, its the truth when I say even a doe can outsmart the average hunter. Hunting is about pursuing a quarry, using time honored skills and practices. Nowadays, people are more willing to go it the easy route to bag a buck..whether it came from the wild or a ranch with fancy food plots. That’s not hunting..that is systematically wiping out the population. We just haven’t thought about that yet. You can always eat a deer..but you can’t eat the antlers. Even tho I have taken some magnificent bucks over the years, I’ve never said no to a good sized doe, either. When people, and media start saying repeatedly about the size of the rack, it’s time for a re-education. Its time for hunters to start using ethics, conservation, and to start understanding what hunting is really all about.

Comments are closed.