“Why would he shoot that buck?” Yep, that’s a real question from an alleged trophy buck hunter who saw this photo on Facebook the day the hunter shot it. Apparently, this 8-pointer was too small, too young or too who-knows-what for that person to share in the happy moment.
Why would he shoot that buck? First, let’s clarify: That he is me. Why would I shoot that buck? Hmm. Let me count the ways.
I grew up hunting deer in the Chequamegon National Forest — more than 1.53 million acres of the deer-unfriendliest public land in Wisconsin. Deer densities then (and now) were single digits for the landscape. That means a couple of does, fawns and a random buck for every square mile of habitat. No food plots. No fields. Just a literal sea of mature forest that’s more suitable for woodpeckers than whitetails.
We hunted that land mostly because my folks had a small cottage on a lake up there and we spent a lot of time there in the summer. We knew the gravel logging roads well and eventually decided to hunt deer there (310 miles from home) because of the solitude offered by the enchanted old-growth forest. We seldom got more than one or two deer during the season and most of those were does, fawns or the occasional yearling spike/forkhorn buck. To see a buck like the one pictured here would have been reason to celebrate. In the event we shot one like this, his head certainly would be going to the taxidermist.
Fast-forward almost 35 years. For the past 23 of those years, I’ve had the good fortune and blessing of combining my passion with my occupation. When I started at Deer & Deer Hunting, I had many gun-kills to my credit but had never bagged (had shot at a few) a deer while bowhunting.
I shot the buck pictured here last year here in central Wisconsin. I was hunting a 77-acre private parcel that is bordered by eight other landowners in a county that is home to 60-plus deer per square mile but also 19 bowhunters per square mile. This buck was the 157th deer I’ve killed while using archery equipment (second buck with a crossbow, and, yes, crossbows count as archery equipment). Thirty of those were bucks from 24 other states and two Canadian provinces.
Ten of those were so-called trophy bucks in that they would make the record books if I cared (I don’t) to have them officially measured. One would most likely rank in the Top 10 all-time for the state in which it was killed (Florida).
I don’t repeat these numbers to boast, or brag, or beat my chest. I recite these stats to get to the bottom line of this blog’s question: Why would I shoot this 8-pointer? Well, for starters, he was a trophy buck in my eyes. But that’s not the reason why. There are many reasons.
I could say it’s because I have limited time to hunt at home.
I could say it’s because we rely on venison as the source of protein to feed our family throughout the year.
I could say it’s because I’d rather get my buck tag filled so I can spend more time picking pumpkins with my kids, making apple cider and canning sauerkraut with my wife, and watching Aaron Rodgers throw touchdown passes to Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson on Sunday afternoons.
I could say it’s because I was hunting that evening with a good friend who couldn’t wait to see the excitement on my face if one of the bucks we’ve been watching all summer happened to stroll past my stand.
I could say it’s because I’m under the belief that antler obsession — either directly or indirectly — has pretty much ruined the American deer hunting tradition for nearly every hunter in my family and extended family.
Those are reasons, yeah, but they’re not why I shot that buck. I shot that buck because I watched him for nearly two hours before he finally came close enough for a shot.
I shot that buck because my heart was absolutely hammering and my knees were shaking as he stepped within range.
I shot that buck because my hands were quivering so badly that he actually caught that movement as I got into shooting position.
I shot that buck because the adrenaline surging through my system was so electrifying that it immediately burned a lifetime memory into my brain when he stopped in his tracks and bobbed his head in an attempt to see what that was up in that ladder stand.
For him, it was too late. My mind was made up, and my shot was fast and dead on. He died within seconds of my broadhead piercing his heart and lungs.
I shot that buck because I’m a deer hunter.
JOIN THE CAMPFIRE AT THE SATURDAY NIGHT DEER CAMP!
Deer & Deer Hunting invites you to our new Saturday Night Deer Camp, only on Pursuit Channel.
Saturday Night Deer Camp is a primetime block of shows kicked off each week with the award-winning Deer & Deer Hunting TV. Hosted by Dan Schmidt, Gordy Krahn, Mark Kayser and Steve Bartylla, the show is in its 14th season and covers everything related to deer hunting, from tactics and strategy to gear, biology, great hunts and more.
Following DDH TV, you can watch Destination Whitetail, The Given Right with Kenneth Lancaster and then Land of Whitetail. These four shows make Saturday Night Deer Camp your must-watch viewing this year.
Check your local listings for Pursuit Channel. It’s also available now on AT&T U-Verse, Channel 1644, among other networks.
Saturday Night Deer Camp: It’s all about the people, the places and the camaraderie that make hunting a lifestyle. Only on the Pursuit Channel!