I passed on a solid nine-pointer last week. It was mature buck I would have been very happy with a few years ago, but it was not quite the deer I am looking for this year. A hunter must consider a wide range of factors when deciding whether or not to take a buck. The following list consists of what went through my mind.
Peace of Mind
Will the buck get hit by a car? Maybe. Will a shotgun hunter shoot it? Probably. However, I won’t feel responsible for limiting the potential of a trophy buck. I don’t mind passing on a fringe buck to have a chance next year. To me the reward of taking a buck that I have followed for years surpasses the regret of letting a buck walk away. The buck will breed this year and pass on good genetics to future deer in the area. Lastly, I enjoy hunting, and if I shoot a buck, then I have to be done for the season.
In Elk Tactics Don Laubach explains that standards change over the course of a season, but a hunter should stick to a game plan in order to feel positive with the end result. For instance, a hunter may hold out for a 10-point in the first week only to accept shooting a spike buck on the last hunt of the year. The hunter stayed committed to a game plan and saw it through. I see no problem with that as long as the hunter feels grateful to harvest the animal. Every couple of weeks reconsider what bucks you will pass or take. I have made the mistake of not fully understanding my expectations and in the heat of the moment ended my season before I should have.
Shoot it Later
I hear “Don’t shoot a buck on the last day that you wouldn’t shoot on the first” all the time, and it bugs me. If I have sat in a tree stand for three months and that nine-point walks in on a cold January morning, I will shoot it. Here’s why: I have seen the other bucks in the area and taken my chances. I had a lot of friends in college that at 10 p.m. claimed they would go home with an 8, and at 1 a.m. they brought home a 4. There’s nothing wrong with that. They swung for the fences and ended up hitting a slow roller to third. Go try to shoot the biggest buck in the area and if it doesn’t work out, then adjust your plans. If you’re offended that I compared women to deer, please understand that I have the upmost respect for both women and deer and believe that they should be paid equally for their work.