Pass Or Shoot? Why it Doesn't Matter.

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Sam Hogan | 7 comments

Deer season is under a month and a half away, and while it is eagerly anticipated, it comes with the age old debate, “Is this deer too small to shoot?” This argument is rarely a civil one as it generally appears in the form of ridiculing a hunter for taking a young deer or resenting the neighbors for taking the 2.5 year old you had let walk.

These are my thoughts on it.

As a deer hunter we all start somewhere. Three years ago I shot my first deer. It was a spike with a shotgun, but to this day I am more proud of that deer than any other. This year my goal is to take only a 3.5 year old buck or better. But that is my choice. If the neighbors decide to shoot every year and a half old buck I might sit down and have a civil discussion about shooting does instead, but I am very aware that what they shoot is their choice and while I may not 100% agree, I will be the first one there if they need help tracking or dragging.

What we need to remember is that regardless of what we shoot, we are all hunting for experiences. A big buck may be what you’re ultimately after, but at the end of the day you hunt because you fundamentally enjoy it. If you genuinely hated hunting no big buck would get you up at four in the morning to go sit in a tree. At the core we all enjoy being in the woods, regardless of what we shoot or don’t shoot. So why do I help the neighbors track and drag their spikes and forkhorns out every year? Because I am a hunter, and as a hunter I can enjoy building and being a part of other hunter’s experiences, even if the young deer I'm helping them drag is the same one I passed  countless times earlier that year. Being on the receiving end of their stammering, adrenaline filled phone calls, the high fives, and ear to ear smiles means more to me than what that buck could have been a year down the road. 

Now I don’t want to get political here and I am not generally a political individual but I have had this thought for years now and feel it should be mentioned. I don’t know many liberal hunters, and for good reason. But most conservative thinkers will agree that government should play a smaller role in day to day life.

So why are we inviting the government to tell us what we can and cannot harvest?

Why can’t we, as hunters, acknowledge that we may not all have the same goals when hunting, but we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and our youth hunters to positively participate in their experiences.

Next time you see a photo posted of a young buck harvested I urge you to try to put negative thoughts aside and remember some of your first harvests. Chances are you killed some young deer as well.

In conclusion, may your arrows, bullets, and bolts find their mark this year. May your bloodtrails be short and recoveries swift. Go and claim your trophy, whether that be a doe, your first buck, or a 150" Michigan monster- and have a good time doing it!

Posted in buck, deer hunting, doe, hunting, michigan, michigan whitetail pursuit


7 Responses

Fred Truschke
Fred Truschke

August 23, 2016

Not sure where to start with this article…. I do agree about civility ALWAYS being needed when discussing harvests and harvest goals. As a board member of QDMA, I cringe when I see blowhards banging their chests and deriding other hunters harvests. You know where you will never see that? Visit and QDMA chapter FB page or Michigan Deer Hunters- Let Em Go and Let Em Grow…. It’s not tolerated!!! So, you think it doesn’t matter Sam, I couldn’t disagree more. There has been a huge push nationally to advance age structure in buck populations as well as many other QDM principles. Many here in Michigan have embraced these concepts or are learning to embrace them. I was one of the core group of individuals that got NW12 APR zone passed. I started out on the opposite of this discussion but couldn’t ignore the data. One of the things I learned along the way was that deer hunters were leaving the sport in alarming numbers in Michigan and their hunter days afield were also dwindling. Some of the counties in the APR zone had LOST 25% of their hunters in ONLY 10 YEARS. Deer hunting as we knew in NW Michigan was clearly "broken’. Leelanau county was the only place that these terrible trends didn’t exist. The only difference in Leelanau county was a 3 point APR. Hunter numbers were steady and time spent afield dwarfed surrounding counties. Hunters in surrounding counties, like me, wanted what Leelanau had. A group of us drafted a proposal and began the years long “hoop jumping” required by the DNR and the NRC. In the end, 68.5% of hunters who hunted in the 12 county zone responded that they were in favor of trying the 3 point APR. Your statement about the “Government dictating change” couldn’t be more wrong. This was a hunter led initiative that I am proud to say that I was part of. After 3 years, the results have been nothing short of tremendous and we had to endure one of the worst winters ever two years ago. I poll hunters constantly and they are happy and embracing the regulation. They are telling the DNR the same thing. I will end with this, this regulation is NOT about big antlers, it is about advancing a minimum of 50% of the 1.5 year cohort of bucks to their second birthday. That’s all. Beyond that, hunters can choose what they’d like to harvest and you won’t hear a peep out of me or anyone else associated with this initiative. Well… Maybe congrats!!! The old “brown down” theory is dying in Michigan and APR’s just speeds the process along quicker. Hunters are learning to become stewards of the resource and not just “takers”, how is that a bad thing? Thankfully the vast majority agree.

Steven polley
Steven polley

August 22, 2016

I remember my first it would have been a 3 point or a fork horn but it was in a fight and one side was broken but not completely off. I remember the days I could sit by the highway and truck after truck had happy hunters in it. It is a big debate now due to more predatorial animals there are fewer and fewer happy hunters and less deer. It’s been sad but there will be a choice to limit what u shoot or one day stop deer season all together. It’s not the hunters fault it’s how the states and government came up with ideas to limit herds and save money and car accidents. I would be happy to shoot that buck but I would pass because I feel if we push it too far deer season will end up being haulted all together

Dan burns
Dan burns

August 22, 2016

Shot it on state land pass on private.

Dan burns
Dan burns

August 22, 2016

Shot it on state land pass on private.

Luke Jobson
Luke Jobson

August 22, 2016

I agree 100%!! It doesn’t matter which deer you shoot. Your tags already have the proper restrictions necessary to keep the numbers where they need to be. With the tag limits and restrictions your point is spot on…over the nearly 20rs and 30+ deer I’ve shot, I’ve purchased well over 100 tags my chances are already only 30% of harvesting my limit. A spike horn 1.5 year old isn’t ever going to become a 150" buck anyways. So those hunting for meat are just helping the gene pool. As a meat hunter if my large family only shot 120"+ bucks there would be none left. I can’t afford to shoot 1 nice buck ever 2-5 years because some trophy hunter doesn’t like my 1.5-2.5 year old buck…I’d be more worried about those shooting the 6 month yearlings with doe tags than a 4 point being shot by a meat hunter.

Todd
Todd

August 22, 2016

The problem here Carl is every area is not the same. To address the problem as a whole is a difficult one. Even within each county there are area where the population is too large or too small. We need to be deer managers as much as we are deer hunters. If you’re not seeing he numbers you’ve seen in the past, make your habitat self sustaining. Make it so the deer have little or no reason to leave. Again, on small parcels this can be difficult. There is no solution to the problem. We all are in different situations.

Carl Tokarchick
Carl Tokarchick

August 22, 2016

I agree we all got started somewhere !!! But right now (and opinions will vary ) our herd is a long way from its best!! There are areas that are loaded with deer and there are areas that they are are not as plentiful as they once were …so with this in mind I would have to concur that restrictions should be implemented….only for the welfare of the herd there are at this point far too many seasons and far too liberal harvest regulations ……I’m saying this due to ehd and the damage it did to a herd I hunted in southern Michigan …I went from seeing 15 to 20 deer a day to none …we are finally In that area seeing a few but the numbers from year to year are not improving at all …the herd needs to be addressed as a whole and if one area is hurt most aren’t the same !!

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