Along The Trail 11-30-17

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Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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By now, we’re well into the middle of Indiana’s deer firearms season and we’ve been through several weeks of archery hunting as well.

Despite what had been probably the worst opening day of “gun” season in recent memory, some really nice bucks have been taken by some happy hunters.

I follow several sites and pages on social media and to no one’s surprise, most of them revolve around hunting and the outdoors. Each time I check in, the pages are filled with photos of successful hunters posing with their prize. I enjoy seeing and reading about other hunters having a good time in the field, especially when someone takes their first deer or when a young hunter connects.

But – and there is always a but – it irks me when someone posts a photo of their deer and the comment starts out something like this… “Well, he’s not the biggest buck in the woods” or “Was hoping for a nicer deer, but this one will have to do.” Why does a hunter feel the need to justify to anyone the animal that they took? I just don’t understand that sort of thinking.

The way I see it, if you decide to shoot a deer, then be happy for the deer you get. If you’re concerned that it’s too small, it’s as simple as this: don’t squeeze the trigger or release the bow string. There is this pervasive thought in deer hunting today that if it isn’t a trophy buck, it isn’t worthy of being shot. The outdoor industry and “professional” hunters on television have pushed a narrative that killing a big buck is the only thing that matters when it comes to deer hunting.

I really do admire my friends and fellow deer hunters that consistently take mature bucks. They put in the time and understand what it takes to be successful year after year. Everyone that hunts deer wants to take a nice buck, but the reality of it is, most of us don’t. Big deer don’t become big by being stupid and it takes a lot of skill and some good luck to bring home a mature big buck.

If you’re a deer hunter and an active user of social media and you choose to share photos of the deer you take, be proud of the animal and be grateful that you had some success. When we put qualifiers on our deer like “He’s only a six pointer” or “At least it will be nice and tender”, we belittle the entire hunting experience.

Hunting isn’t just about bringing home a monster whitetail to hang his rack above the fireplace, and if that’s your sole motivation for being out in the woods, my opinion is that maybe you should re-think why you hunt in the first place.

– David Hewitt