The Trophy Frenzy


The Trophy Frenzy

John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications


“If I hear ‘I’m not a trophy hunter’ one more time, I am going to pitch a fit,” said deer hunting friend, David Graves. Working a gun show recently, we got to talking about deer hunting and how it has been ruined by the false expectations of so-called “trophy hunting.”

If any and every deer hunter or any big game hunter for that matter were honest, they would have to admit in their heart of hearts that sure they want to take a trophy. But in this quest the true nature of hunting and the appreciation for the vast natural resources we enjoy by hunting is somehow being lost. Our expectations have been over inflated by the pressure to score on nothing but a so-called trophy class deer.

It’s ironic that in some ways the success of the white-tailed deer story in this country has resulted in so many terrific bucks being available to hunt. State wildlife management professionals have brought the deer back from the low ebb of just a few hundred thousand animals to well into the millions now. In many areas deer populations continue to expand meaning even more big bucks are out there.

Deer management practices, hunter self-restraints allowing bucks to grow older have produced some fantastic bucks in habitats all across the United States. Each season brings even more big bucks for display at local and regional big buck contests and wildlife expos. All this gens up the fever for hunters to take even more big bucks with huge racks.

Blame or not, the outdoor television hunting shows feed this appetite for bigger bucks as well. Hardly a kill is shown without the first inquiry back in camp is its “score.” There is often little said about the story of the hunt, the demands of the stalk, or the blessings of the harvest. The audience is compelled to believe that only trophy class bucks are worth taking.

Today, we have all witnessed young hunters taking their first huge buck, only to immediately turn to the video game or iPhone for texting or posting the photos. In some cases some of these kids hardly ever hunt again. Taking a trophy buck was simply too easy. There was no value placed on the quality of the experience, camp fun, fellowship, or other aspects of the hunt. This situation is sad, but played out again and again.

Hunters, parents, we are the only ones to turn this around to realign the realistic expectations of hunting, but also the quality of the event. Focus on the experience, camp life, enjoyment and the appreciation of the resource. In time maybe a trophy buck will come, too.

Avatar Author ID 67 - 1617833109

Award winning outdoor writer/photographer since 1978. Over 3000 articles and columns published nationally. Field & Stream Hero of Conservation in 2007. Fields of writing includes hunting most game in American, Canada, and Europe, fishing fresh and saltwater, destination travel, product reviews, industry consulting, and conservation issues. Currently VP at largest community college in Mississippi in economic development and workforce training with 40 years of experience in Higher Education. BS-MS in wildlife sciences from MO. University, and then a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Married with two children and Molly the Schnoodle.

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