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It is a funny thing growing up; some people choose to embrace it, and some people will still be that wild and crazy guy or girl you hung out with in college. Same holds to the evolution of the hunter.
Some will still be of the mindset of the young bull in the story no matter how old they get, where he wants to run down the hill to get the cows. Where some of us are the old bull and say let’s walk be smart, and get them all.
Looking Back at the Evolution
I can remember like it was yesterday the excitement of completing the hunter’s safety course when I was 12 years old, knowing that I would be able to participate in the fall hunting season with my parents.
For years I sat and watched as both my mom and dad went out the door at the farm to crawl up in a tree stand. Or watched as they packed the truck to head west for Elk or Mule Deer. The time was finally here; it was now my time to be a part of this fantastic family tradition.
I remember being so excited when I watched my Easton 2219 aluminum arrow out of my Golden Eagle Carbon Hawk find its mark on a spike buck after missing so many deer with my bow that season at the age of 12. As I get older the harvesting of an animal Buck, or Doe, Bull Elk or Cow Elk, Coyote, Squirrel…
Whatever it gives me that rush and feeling of satisfaction as if I was 12 again. The game has changed quite a bit for me in my evolution, from being that teenager that only cares about shooting big bucks or limiting out on ducks and geese. At the time it was my gauge at that time to prove to the world I was an accomplished hunter.
Evolution Full Circle to Today
To now where I only care about harvesting a mature buck or doe, and if I don’t shoot that limit of ducks or geese I will sleep just fine. It’s about the experience now; it’s about drinking a cup of coffee as the sun comes up with my black lab Leica waiting in anticipation to retrieve my birds or watching him flush a Rooster for me in Western North Dakota.
Seeing the look in my son's faces when that turkey gobbles, ducks commit, or I walk in the house with the words of Dad got a buck on my lips. That is what it is about for me now.
Harvesting deer on our property is so rewarding especially with the blood, sweat, and money we have invested. Knowing what we know of the land, and how the deer move through it can be relatively easy to harvest one.
I find my kicks in growing them, making sure there is enough food to hold them all year to make our safe ground harbor. Then being able to sift through all the excellent deer for the truly mature deer, and sometimes the starts line up just right for us to do just that.
I was fortunate this past weekend November 24th and 25th to end my season with a bang… literally. Saturday night I was able to harvest a substantial mature Minnesota doe. Then on Sunday night, I was able to take a buck we know all too well as “Big Ugly.”
Evolution of "Big Ugly"
A deer that has been living in our place for the last three years and has not advanced in his antler growth one bit. He jumped to the top of the list of deer to take out of our deer herd, so he was not passing his genetics on to future generations. Laying on a fence line where I have harvested many deer, I found myself with my crosshairs on this giant bodied old buck. At 237 yards with my TC Encore, I made a perfect shot, dispatching him in seconds.
No, he is not a 170-class giant, but he is an old monster bodied mature buck that I set a goal in September to take off our farm. I was just as excited with fooling him and harvesting him humanely than I was if I shot a 170-inch stud. As I made that walk back to the farm to get everyone to help me get this big joker out of the cut corn field, I couldn’t help but giggle and smile.
Thinking to myself, I have made the transition. I have matured as a hunter and conservation steward. I find more joy in little things like watching squirrels wrestle and chase each other through the woods than being annoyed of their presence. Knowing I was going to be able to call my two little boys and tell them dad got a buck made me smile.
So, to all those 12-year old kids completing the hunter’s safety course, and 17-year-old kids looking to fill tags and shoot limits. Take it from me, enjoy every little step of that journey because it is a magical one. When you have those little moments like I did walking back to the farm by yourself in the dusk as the sun was setting knowing you did something you set out to accomplish, you will giggle and say that guy knew what he was talking about in that blog post.
It is indeed a shame that hunting is a dying sport, we need to dig in as hunters and help support it and make it about the traditions, and experience for generations to come! Hunting is so much more than what you see on the Outdoor Channel, it’s about time spent with family and friends, and that makes the whole experience addicting.
Another tip, if you are in a funk on harvesting deer. Shave in the Power Stache-Fu Man Chu, worked for me this weekend and will most likely make an appearance in falls to come!
Good luck to all of you who still have tags, be safe and shoot straight!