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A Smile or big antlers?
So having hunted for over 40 plus years, I have seen a change. Or maybe I have just been blind. So..........do you hunt for the fun or only for big antlers to brag? Is it my imagination or has the hunting conversations gone only to "SIZE" and the smiles (happy times) gone by the wayside? Just curious. :))))
I hunt for stuff with big antlers (whitetails in particular) because it is more challenging to me personally, and I am always having fun while doing so. I don’t see it as a mutually exclusive endeavor.
I Hunt for the friends I make and the times I have with friends and family. Pictures help.
I’ve killed some nice bucks and every year the personal pressure turned me into a very “particular” person, one year I simply didn’t have the time to put forth. So instead I ended up just relaxing and slaying a some does, it truly put the fun back into deer hunting for me. I still like trophy animals but I think I like killing a little more.
Antlers would be a bonus, but they’re way down my list.
T-roy x2! Im also happy as a lark to shoot smaller critters too, as demonstrated by my elk hunt this year. :)
Big antlers make me smile! In all reality I smile in every picture I take, be it an average doe or a nice bull elk. Hunting is fun, shooting stuff is fun, and I enjoy the whole process. Without a doubt though hunting and killing trophy quality animals is a total rush. I get enjoyment out of everything I harvest, but drawing back on a higher end animal is a totally different experience.
I love killing big stuff but if I had to gauge my core group of friends there is a smile during the hunt that makes the trip fun no matter what. I still feel like a lot of people have a happy balance.
I try to take mature males of a specie....if it fits that criteria it doesn`t have to have the biggest rack. I`ve always taken hunting too seriously to really have "fun"....enjoyment yes....fun, not so much.
It`s a flaw as hunting partners think I`m too intense.
For me it's about the whole process anymore. I hunt big mature animals to extend and fine-tune the process. Antlers are one reward, but not so much why I do it.
Bigger antlers are a product of more mature (and more difficult to kill) animals. If I shot the first juvenile animal that provided a shot opportunity, my hunting seasons would not last very long. Where's the fun in that? I choose to hunt mature animals because of the challenge. I don't shoot based solely on antler score and I don't get worked up over eating a tag either. Although eating tags probably has not generated many smiles....
I loved the challenge of the hunt. That often means targeting older age class bucks. If I filled my tag with the first buck I saw I’d have a buck down in a hunt or two. I’d rather hunt hard all season for a mature deer and eat a tag. Of course I shoot a lot of does, so I get a lot of excitement from that. I like big antlers but around here is completely possible to shoot 5+ year old bucks that won’t gross P&Y but I still target them. It’s one of the reasons I started shooting trad bows and this year I killed deer with a stone point and homemade broadhead from a file with my longbow. I want the challenge. With that equipment, everything is a challenge
I mix of both, I want to get some nice mature animals, so I don't kill as many as I used to. But I still enjoy and am very thankful for every second out there doing it!
deerslayer said it all. So typically in January I hunt for Muley's spot and stalk. Im not picky on antler size but I try to work in on a mature animal. I haven't filled a spot and stalk deer tag yet but im having a blast trying. With elk I've had great success and I dont mind tag soup, it's about the hunt for big antlers. Then in August/September I hunt high country for Coue's. I become a little picky meaning i want a really big antlered (trophy) deer which has me holding out for one, or I still have the December hunt and more time in the field, otherwise I would have killed the 6 different spikes I had at 10 yards or less. Now December, its about filling my tag. My plan this year, being i was limited due to work for time to hunt, I was to take the first legal buck that came along. i love Coue's meat and I love shootin stuff. I just happen to get lucky and have a mature buck show up this year. Which in turn for me was a huge rush! Funny how things work out like that but i got a whole year of great time in the field, great memories and huge smiles in the end with a nice buck, oh and yummy Coue's meat to boot!
I hunt more for the experience and the new people I meet.
Nothing beats friendship and enjoyment.
Plus, ya can't share the harvest (meat) with family and friends if ya only go for Antlers! haha
Good luck, Robb
I eat tags with grace but I eat meat to sustain my life. The more I can get from nature, the better off I am. And, sometimes, when I kill a critter, it's just to avoid inauthenticity in myself. I admit that is an impulsive act but, these days, I don't often ignore my prey drive.
To more directly answer the OP, I'd ask myself if antlers, skulls sizes, etc. were gone and records abolished, would I still hunt? Yeah, it's effectively the way I hunt, now. Smiles.
I hunt because I enjoy the challenge of getting close. I usually take younger animals as I believe the meat is sweeter they are also easier to get out of the woods, at 73 years young it takes me a long time to drag 120 pounds of dead meat out of the woods!
When I started bow hunting , I just wanted a deer. So the first few were 1 1/2 yr old bucks during the rut. The easiest to get. I smiled. Next challenge was to get an older buck. Passed the little bucks and it happened. Bigger smile . Next challenge was to take doe after gun season. Wow those old does are smart. It happened . I smiled REAL BIG . With some of my friends it's like a big competition . They are hoping to shoot something bigger than any of the group. Who cares . I just shoot what i want . Last 2-3 years , they never got a pic of anything I shot. I just say meat in the freezer. One guy is texting every morning and evening , wonder what each guy saw or shot.
I raised dogs for field trial completion for years. Got to the point if I didn't have a winner ,I wasn't happy. Quit the completion and told myself ,my deer hunting ,will not be a competition with the group. Just hunt for me . My wife now deer and bear hunts with me . So much more fun. We go on hunts out of state and the " group" ,never knows we even went. On one hunt,before I quit telling when I was going, the "texter" went as far as to call my 90 year old Mom ,three times ,wondering if she heard what we shot. These guys are in there 60's too. Don't need that crap.
Lots of horn porn out there. Money, greed, bragging rights, etc. due to it.
Personal sniff test: do I age or measure the doves, quail, ducks, rabbits, etc I shoot? Hell no! They are smiles!
Antlers are different though and I do hunt for the largest one's I can reasonably get. I also shed hunt a lot too and even though I love every deer sighting and every shed found I do get more excited about the big ones. With that said I've never measured a rack that I wasn't asked to.
“A hunt based on only trophies taken falls fall short of what the ultimate goal should be”
I’m with Fred. Some of the best smiling hunts I’ve had I only killed a spike or does, or nothing!
Hunt big bucks but never had a day where I wasn’t smiling!
Yep, can’t deny the genetic trait we have for the largest antlers. Resistance is futile.
That said the greatest satisfaction I get is a really good quick “draino” shot which kills the doe or buck in a few seconds. That is success for me. I get a very powerful feeling when that happens.
Some hunts I go to shoot a doe and some hunts I go to shoot the best buck I can find. I enjoy it all and think most of us are like that!
Many of the animals I hunt do not have antlers. When they do I hunt for mature animals, unique racks and situational events. By situational, I compromise if young hunters are along so they can gain experience. I hunt many states and generally with other hunters doing the shooting, therefore they set the tone.
Hunting for me has never been about myself, have probably been on over 1000 recovery's of deer, bear, moose, caribou, antelope, elk, etc. I am not a guide or outfitter.
But.... The times with friends,things we do and see are priceless!
What Charlie said.
I just had a couple of mature does bust me. I was going to shoot one. Now they are standing out there blowing at me. What a rush!!!
I'm in the group who have evolved in their whitetail hunting to the point where I pass on younger bucks and just enjoy watching them while waiting for one of the better bucks I've seen on camera, or in the field. As season end approaches, I'll take a doe, but still hold out for a mature buck....If you're talking elk, I have yet to take a branch antlered bull, so my standard is much lower. No cows in the first week, then any legal elk in the second week, of course it seems the cows know this as well.
I hunt for food. A large bodied deer with a nice set makes it even better.
I've elimanted treestands, went with a recurve, and I'm ground hunting only, on foot. enjoying hunting immensely again and any legal deer has become a trophy. To each there own. LtsRyd, I will agree with your post. The dollar amount spent has also changed a little.
I prefer big antlers, but I have fun whether they’re the end result or not.
Related or not, where I’ve noticed a huge change is at leagues and 3D shoots. They used to be a hoot, with huge turnouts. These days, the turnout is way down, and the majority are so danged serious they can’t have fun if it was staring them in the face.
I've been bowhunting for nearly forty years now and the reason for that is because of the sense of accomplishment I get from successfully taking my quarry with a weapon that requires the skill to do so. In the 1970s there weren't nearly the deer numbers we have now and so it was quite an accomplishment to kill any deer, with any weapon. Now, I can sit out in my blind and have not only a dozen deer un front of me, but several decent bucks to choose from, so naturally I'm now going to set my sights a little higher, trying to take a certain buck (or that dry, spooky matriarch doe that keeps me from doing that...lol). In my opinion it's just a natural progression that comes with age, experience and an inflated population of game. It's the same reason I still like to process my own animal and prepare my own recipes for the table. It's not about the size of the antlers so much as it is about the challenge and sense of achievement that comes with it.
So..........do you hunt for the fun or only for big antlers to brag?
I hunt for fun which generally for myself is chasing the genetically “superior” animal. If I was unable to share it with a single person I would still do it just as passionately. So bragging rights is definitely not the fuel. Last year however, hunting a corn field, I made up my my mind that I wanted to stalk a whitetail on the ground. I got into about 4 yards on a doe and drilled her with my stickbow. I also killed a 170 class whitetail the same year. I actually can’t tell you which was the bigger rush
Odd question to ask on an archery-only hunting site. If our sole purpose for hunting was to collect the biggest antlers, then we probably wouldn't handicap ourselves by hunting with the most primitive weapon available. We'd use a rifle so as to "reach out and touch 'em". I believe archery-only hunters do it for the love of the hunt and because we want to challenge ourselves.
On the other hand it seems very normal to evolve from merely shooting the same size dink yearling buck or raghorn bull, year after year after year, to eventually develop the desire to hunt an old, mature, more difficult-to-kill quarry. And enjoy the hell out of it!
Fun??? This old boy is just glad to be able to be out there anymore! And I do enjoy a nice rack! It seems my whole year focuses on elk hunting. I can't think of anything (anymore) better than September in the mountains. I know, I'm a sad case.
What I find interesting is a guy can kill something with big antlers, post a pic, and many people see him as a bragger. Kill a doe or young buck, post it, and your "sharing". I've smiled over every animal I've ever taken. I hunt for mature bucks now and enjoy my hunting more than ever, though I usually come home empty handed.
I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive! Anytime I kill a big deer I’m grinning from ear to ear! I’ve killed enough deer over the years that I don’t shoot young bucks anymore and haven’t in a long time - not much of a challenge. An old buck sure is, though. I feel fortunate to have killed him when it happens. Now when we are talking does I must say i love to hunt them. An old doe is pretty savvy and there are a lot more of them then old bucks. I thoroughly enjoy my doe hunts for sure.
One of my pet peeves is getting asked if I hunt for the rack or the meat - again didn’t know I could only have one or the other! I never ate a buck I didn’t like. I live in the Midwest and The oldest bucks are still like a good side of beef. Seems odd that is even a question.
When I started in 65 my goal was to get a shot at a deer, getting one with a bow was a big deal back then, it took 3 years to get my first. I shot my bow at least 2hrs a day, sometimes 4-6 hrs so I'd be ready for that ONE shot you might get in the thirty day season. Any deer would do. Now 54 years later I expect to see deer every time I go out and can take multiple deer so I don't shoot small bucks and try to take the oldest and biggest buck I can find. It can get frustrating at times but is always enjoyable being able to get within 15-20 yards. Does make up most of the meat we eat. I guess I'd have to both a smile and big antlers. Get a lot more smiles though!
There are some great answers for sure. I think Sticksender is correct, an archery forum is probably the wrong place for this post. It's quite apparent that most are out for the challenge/adventure, which brings the smiles and if the horns are big that doesn't hurt at all, might even make the smile a little bigger.
It’s also become quite the norm for guys to hunt for the ‘online story’
Smiles, horns or not.
I hunt for 2 reasons: the challenge and the meat. Sure I get excited if I get a big buck but I also get pumped over a fat doe. My family enjoys venison. I love every part of the hunt, from the pre season to the finished product on the table. Too much emphasis is placed on shooting big racked deer and not enough on enjoying each and every kill for what they are: a reward to the hunter for a well placed shot. If I could only hunt does I would still be out there loving it. I tell my son when he’s hunting “I don’t care what buck you shoot, just shoot the one that makes you happy”. That’s what works for us.
I hunted a couple days in 4th rifle this year, I passed on a bunch of young bucks (freezer was mostly full already)-it made me smile, it was a great hunt. I also killed my first bull elk, with big antlers-that made me smile too...
I hunt for fun, and I like to eat wild game. No legal healthy animal gets a pass.
I don't see them being mutually exclusive.
It depends where I am at and what time of season it is. A big factor is my freezer. I feel more pressure with my freezer empty than my wall. To each their own!
"it's the hunt, not the kill"
I love the hunt. I love to hunt for big antlers for fun. And for food.
Mature or eat the tag, regardless of critter or state I just don't care to mess with anything young/small, takes away from more chase time. Honestly I enjoy playing guide and helping out more than taking things myself anymore.
I don’t hunt for fun, meat or antlers. I hunt because I’m compelled to do so. I love it. And it makes me happy, but I just have to be hunting something. As much as I can.
I used to be hell on tweety birds with a BB gun. I didn’t take pictures, or eat them. But I had to be out there hunting, even at 6 and 7 years old. I’m thankful every day to live and grow up where I did, where I had room to roam and quite a bit of freedom.
Not all of my hunts are fun. Sometimes they are miserable. Whether bad weather, or bad luck. But I try to stick them out as best as I can. Because if I don’t, I feel like I didn’t measure up to the expectations I have for myself. I disappoint myself.
I’m really weird, in that the things that please me about a hunt or a season may change on a daily basis. For example, I usually don’t rifle hunt, preferring to bow hunt. But muzzleloader season usually finds me with a modern in-line with a big scope in my hand. I don’t know why, but they feel different to me, personally.
At home I generally am extremely picky. I don’t shoot many deer. I haven’t fired an arrow at a deer this year, and probably won’t. I want the biggest rack or oldest buck I can find. I generally won’t shoot does anymore. Because I expect a buck to be just seconds or minutes behind. Every time.
On travel hunts I’m not nearly as picky. I want the best animal I can find, but I’ve been happy in the past with small animals or females. And I’m sure I’ll be happy in the future with small animals or females on travel hunts.
At the end of the day, besides my compulsion to hunt, I hunt to bring myself happiness. I try very hard not to let the opinions, standards, or desires of others to influence my hunt, and therefore my happiness.
Bake said it.
I’m compelled to hunt. There’s just no other choice. This is what I explained to my wife when we started dating. Hunting, it seems, is just in our biological makeup, unless it is desensitized by culture.
Thank God for the health and friends to do it with, though.
It depends ... I do hunt for big bucks, and get one heck of a smile when I kill one ... however, I am also very happy when I kill a good Doe, I also get a big smile.... and since I am back on state land, I am very happy just to kill a "good buck" on there, so the 2.5yr old/164lb 8 pt I killed there gave me one hell of a smile this year... as did the 105lb Doe I killed there.... If I was back on the private I had hunted for 20 years, one place for 18 yrs the other 2 yrs, I'd have passed that buck, but on the state land, I am sure as heck happy to get him...btw, in 2016 I killed a 190lb/139" 8pt off the place, so my smile was a little bigger then ..... ;0)
These day's it's just to see and/or film something. Having low expectations keeps each encounter interesting. What I don't like is someone else dictating their expectations or desires on me....that brings out the frowns.
I have fun whether it’s for meat or horns.
Smiles for sure. Our bowhunting is about family and fun.
Smiles for sure. Our bowhunting is about family and fun.