By Craig Dougherty Photos by the Author
y son and I have more than 30 years of quality deer management and big deer under our belt, and we’ve learned a thing or two about killing big bucks. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that everything you kill doesn’t have to be big.
might be your last one. We want our seniors to kill plenty of next bucks before their last buck honors our camp game pole. Holding senior hunters to the same standards they had when there was fire in their eyes and a spring in their step is foolish. And the fool can be the senior or the other members of the hunting group. Seniors need to give themselves permission to take a lesser buck now and again. You never know, do you? Younger hunters need to support their seniors along the way. Everybody will be the better for it.
There was a day when we would never think about taking a buck that was not fully developed. In our part of the world, that often means a 5-year-old or older deer. That’s no longer the case. We now will occasionally take a buck that has not realized its full potential. The reason? Sometimes, you just have to kill something.
New Hunters and Seniors Get the Green Light We have always green-lighted beginning hunters at our camp. That means children and adults who have had very little deer hunting success. Research tells us that beginning hunters need to be successful if they are to stay in the sport for the long haul. We need every hunter we can get, and today’s new hunter is tomorrow’s rock picker or wood-box filler. Besides, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a beginning hunter with his first deer. The joy is downright contagious. On occasion, our camp is graced by a senior hunter. These men and or women have earned their seat at the head of our hunting camp table. Their eyes might not be as sharp as they once were, and their reflexes might be a little slower, but they honor our camp with their presence. These hunters have the green light, too. Most of them have killed their share of big bucks, but many are happy to take just one more buck of any size. It’s in their DNA. You never know when your next buck
66 WHITETAIL NEWS
/ Vol. 27, No. 2