One of my hunting goals is to take a symmetrical eight pointer in velvet with a bow. He does not have to be Boone and Crockett big, nor Pope and Young big. He just needs to be in velvet, have 4 points on each side that are fairly even in length, and look balanced.
For those not familiar with the terms used, as a deer or other antlered beast grows their antlers, they are in velvet. Velvet is a soft covering of the antlers. Once the deer rubs the velvet off, the antlers cease to get larger.
Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young refer to the two most common and well known organizations that keep records of North American game animals. Boone and Crockett keeps up with any type of fair chase kill as well as found animals. Pope and Young restricts their records to bow kills. Entry into either of the clubs records has to meet a certain criteria based on different scoring methods and measurements as well as ethical standards of the hunt. These entries are what is considered a trophy animal.
But what is a true trophy? I would be as excited and proud of the velvet symmetrical eight as I would a Booner (slang for a Boone and Crockett entry). Would this not count as a trophy in my eyes?
Of course it would. But sometimes we get caught up in what a trophy is in others’ eyes. Has it become just an extension of our school days?
You know what I am talking about. You become close to that cute girl that sits beside you in class. You casually mention her name while playing with your friends and several of them start making remarks about some feature they don’t like about her and just like that, you throw a cold shoulder. You like her still, but there is no way you would ever let her nor anyone else know.
Jeff Foxworthy runs a comedy routine about deer hunting and trophies. He plays a scenario where a huge buck is laying in the back of one pickup truck and all the guys in the hunting club are giddy over the size and stature of such a beautiful animal. Then, they work their way to the next truck where a much smaller deer lays. “That’s good eatin’ right there,” one says.
“Yep, the young ones are good and tender,” comments another. No longer will this hunter take an animal of that size again. Not when his hunting buddies are around anyway.
Opening weekend of bow season played out in a similar way. I was hoping to drop a couple of does for the freezer. The burger and sausage is getting low from last year’s hunts. Even my wife joked with her co-workers about me needing to go out and gather us some meat.
The morning’s hunt began at 3:30am, as I have done nearly every opening season over the past decade. Within 15 minutes of entering the stand I had three deer below me within ten yards of the stand. Unfortunately, after another 15 minutes, a torrential downpour flushed all the deer deep into the woods for cover. There was no action the rest of the morning.
That afternoon I again entered the stand. I watched as a small cow horn buck exited the tree line to my far left. Behind him three does and a small fawn sneaked in as well. They all walked away from the stand further to the left.
While I watched them graze on the beans I caught movement closer to me on my left. A six pointer, still in velvet must have entered the field out of sight and worked his way through the field towards me. He continued to close the distance and came as close as five yards from my tree.
He was a little spooked and darted away before stopping to look back once again. I pictured him making a turn and doubling back, which he did. At 17 yards I came to full draw and settled the 20 yard pin where the heart would be.
And I moved the string from the anchor position and waited for him to leave. My thoughts of shooting a buck that was too small overcame my intent of putting meat in the freezer.
I wasn’t on a guided trophy hunt. There were no size restrictions. The land is not managed for trophy deer. Yet I let a good four to five months of food walk because of the size of the antlers.
There is no right or wrong as to what happened. Only a question we all must ask ourselves at times. Why?