Hunting season is finally here for most of us. For western hunters, they have been hunting since August, and bow hunters here in Texas started last weekend. For the unfortunate rifle hunters, they must wait until November. I have been hunting since the middle of August although, for the most part, it has felt more just like “chasing.” So now I’m on my third month of the season. I’m switching gears from being the hunter to being the guide slowly. As most of my weekends will be spent helping people shoot a big buck. Each new season brings new goals and new insights to the hunting world. Even if you don’t know when hunting season begins, you undoubtedly know thanks to social media. Post after post of big animals, and comment after comment of the “keyboard hunters.” (the hunters who seem to know everything about anything, can age a deer to the exact day of birth, and want the hunter to know that they have shot bigger bucks) This whole trend turned me away from the social media aspect of hunting. I get the impression that people want to shoot something with big antlers just so that they can put it on Facebook and Instagram so everyone can see how great they are. Now, not everyone who puts an animal on social media is doing it for fame so don’t go jumping all over my case. I have put many an animal online and am always happy to see the successful hunts my friends have. What I see that bugs me is the idea that “I have to shoot something so that I can show everyone” or “I only shoot big bucks or big bulls because that’s what all the pros do.”
I watched a hunting show the other day and on the show was a family who was very dedicated to deer hunting. One of the sons, in particular, was very, very picky on herd management. So picky in fact, that when his mom shot a very nice whitetail, his first reaction was to score the deer and then comment that he wouldn’t have shot that deer. I know for a fact if I did that, I would probably be in the ER after the beating I would get from mom. But his attitude towards hunting was strictly business with no room for fun. Sometimes we have to make business decisions in hunting. I can’t have one of my hunters shoot a buck that is out of their price range so sometimes I have to tell them that they cannot pull the trigger. But I am talking more about hunting for ourselves. With the huge lure of being sponsored or being on a pro staff, certain ideas of what hunting should be like have been twisted and changed in different ways. I have slowed down my social media posts because of this. So many aspects of hunting are meant to be shared with family and friends or are just to be cherished with yourself. Sometimes experiencing something amazing in the woods is best kept as a memory that the whole world doesn’t know.
My motto that I take into the woods is that when the right animal steps out in the right circumstance, I will shoot it. If I am hunting a ranch where only 5+ year old can be killed, then the right animals must be 5+ years old. (Disclaimer to the motto is that I follow all fish and game rules and restrictions in whatever state I am in) My goal is to find a mature animal and shoot it. But sometimes the circumstances dictate something different. I shot a 2.5-year-old deer last season in a snowstorm because I wanted to. Hunting in the snow in West Texas isn’t common and getting a buck to walk down a trail within bow range doesn’t happen every day. All that added up to me shooting the buck and him piling up 80 yards away. I have passed up deer older and bigger than he was many a time, but there was one thing that made me pick up the bow and draw back: I am out there to have fun. Whether you are shooting a spike whitetail or the biggest moose in the world, you are out there in the woods to experience adventure and have fun. Every hunter wants an animal that represents the work he put in the get in the situation where he/she was able to kill his trophy. Some hunters will shoot the first thing with fur and some won’t shoot unless the animal can have the label of Boone & Crockett next to it. Whatever your definition of a trophy is, don’t let social media dictate what you should or shouldn’t shoot. Take note of course and have a listening ear as there is good information out there that should be regarded. And as I stated previously, always follow all fish and game laws along with rules set out by the landowners.
Remember that being able to go out and explore the woods, mountains, and deserts is a blessing, and we need to make sure and treat it that way. Spend time with family and friends, and cherish the fellowship that comes with time spent chasing big bucks and even the small bucks. If an animal walks in that gets your heart beating, (and is legal in every aspect) don’t hesitate to think about what your friends or social media will think. You only have so many days to hunt. It could be 50 years, or this could be your last season. Enjoy the hunt. Someone somewhere wishes that they were in your shoes chasing the animals you pursue. Don’t look on the negative aspects or failures of the hunt. There is always a lesson to be learned in the good and bad times. Besides, a bad day of hunting still beats a good day in a classroom, at least that’s what I believe.
Good luck to you on all of your hunting adventures this fall. May your aim be true and arrows/bullets straight.