By Alex Comstock
The term "Trophy" buck. What does it mean to you? I'd be willing to bet that it's different than what I consider a trophy, or what your friend considers a trophy. Yet, the phrase "Trophy Hunting" often is associated with deer hunting negatively, and I don't like that. But, at the same time I think it can sometimes be partially our fault as hunters. I believe we ought to explain to people what we mean by trophy hunting, and that just because someone says they are a trophy hunter doesn't mean they only care about antlers and not anything else.
See, it could be argued that everyone who deer hunts is a trophy hunter. For you, a trophy might be literally any deer. If you go out, shoot a one year old buck or a mature doe and are thrilled with it, that very well could be a trophy to you. You might not consider yourself a trophy hunter, but a trophy is in the eye of the beholder. Now, what I really want to get at is why I think the term trophy hunting needs to be explained more.
Trophy hunting is most often associated negatively by non-hunters who simply think that you're after a giant buck only for the antlers, the show, the mount, the "trophy". I've been in situations myself, and have seen situations where a hunter has been confronted, and instead of explain it, they have just said you don't get it, or something along those lines and walked away. I think this is the big opportunity right here that we as hunters need to capitalize on. If someone actually wants to engage with you about hunting, and they aren't a hunter themselves, taking the time to explain why trophy hunting probably isn't what they think could pull a lot of weight. It might cause them to re-evaluate how they think of hunters, and heck it could even give them reason to maybe want to get into hunting, and we need as many hunters right now as possible.
If someone were to come up to me and question my hunting ethics because I'm a trophy hunter, I'd take the following route to explain my side of the story. I'd explain that even though yes, I consider myself a trophy hunter, I'm not for the sole fact of big antlers to feed my ego. I'd go into depth explaining the hundreds of hours of preparation throughout the year that I put in, the fact that half the reason I hunt is because time spent in the woods and out in the field is a place where I'm as happy as can be. I'd go into the fact that even though I'm after the most mature deer in the area, which usually tend to have the biggest antlers, if I faced the decision of having to haul the meat out of the woods or the antlers, I'd choose the meat every time. I'd hopefully get the person to reconsider what they first think of when they here the term "Trophy Hunter".
Conclusion: Over the last couple of years since the inception of WhitetailDNA, I've wrote a few pieces of this style. Even though it's not the glamorous tactic or strategy on how to hunt mature bucks, these blog posts are just as important. Whenever you are afforded the chance, take the extra minute to explain what trophy hunting means to you.