I always thought the deer hunting community was an inclusive one that stuck together. However, I recently found out by accident I’m actually on the outside looking in.
I came to this revelation when the Outdoor Channel shared a photo on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts that I had originally posted on the Mahoney Outdoors social media accounts. The photo was a very nice, 3.5 year old buck from our farm. The caption read something along the lines of “Pass or shoot in your neck of the woods?”
I didn’t need to read the comments to know that most people would have shot him in a heartbeat. I had a chance to take him at 30 yards with my .44 pistol this year; however, I elected to pass. But apparently my decision makes me a “rich”, “stuck up”, “greedy”, “product endorsed”, “high fence hunting”, “TV show schmuck” to the mass public. After seeing such comments, which were just a couple of many examples, I couldn’t help but wonder if I truly was an elitist in their eyes.
I always thought of my situation as simply being fortunate enough to practice quality deer management on my family’s property. No, we don’t own a high fence operation or thousands of acres. It’s a modest 280 acre piece in Central Missouri. We have good crops and food plots on and around us, heavy timber filled with giant, acorn producing oaks, and about 30 acres of 7-8 foot tall native grasses.
Most of our neighbors are the types who subscribe to the “if it’s brown, it’s down” mentality. There’s nothing we can do about that so we focus on what we can control.
That is, we put painstaking effort and unbelievable time into providing habitat and resources that will keep deer (especially big bucks) around with a sense of security. We practice low pressure tactics all year round, especially during deer season. For instance, during season we do not drive vehicles into our property unless it is to haul out a deer that was shot. We also take scent elimination showers in conjunction with washing our clothes in scent elimination. We are careful not to overhunt one particular location. And when we check cameras, we do it on the way in and out of the deer stand to prevent unnecessary trips into the woods.
But most importantly, out of all of our low pressure tactics, we don’t shoot young deer. We do our absolute best to pass on anything under 5.5 years old unless it is deemed a cull buck. Yes, we realize we might never get a shot at a certain buck again, but we can’t control where he goes or what he does. We can only control our management practices and our decisions when he is standing in front of us. In order to get the Boone & Crockett caliber bucks we want, we will continue passing up young, immature deer that score in the 120-150 range. They will never reach the target size or age if we kill them at that point.
Plain and simple, we are diehards when it comes to our quest. We eat, sleep, and breathe quality deer management and deer hunting 365 days a year. We hunt nonstop waiting for “the one” to walk out. In mindset and passion, we are like every other deer hunter out there, or so I thought.
But if spending all my free time throughout the year preparing for deer season and constantly strategizing to kill the biggest buck possible makes me a stuck up schmuck, then so be it.
I guess I’m an elitist. And I always will be.