Deer hunters evolve. The first challenge is to harvest a deer, any deer. Next, they need to harvest a herd of deer. Then, they target a BIG BUCK. Finally, their skills, and mind, are ready to challenge a specific buck!

All hunters are not the same. During this early season, it is appropriate to discuss the new growth that hunters and bucks are capable of. Some hunters consider hunting a calling while others just a hobby. The sport of hunting is filled with ranks of every type. With experience and time, hunters and hunting changes.

Not all bucks are created equal. Every rack is unique and has a personality. Deer behavior and patterns are also unique and changing. BIG BUCKS don’t get BIG because they are stupid. Big Racked Bucks have survived and learned from encounters with predators and dangers, including man.

 Wildlife managers use hunters as big game management tools. Certain deer may need to be culled from the herd. If there are too many does, then they become the target. A well-timed doe hunt can be effective at maintaining a healthy deer population. Ecosystems have a certain carrying capacity. If there are issues with disease, certain critters may be undesirable. Quality control can dictate which genetics are wanted in the specific deer population.

Targeting specific deer makes hunters better hunters. The only way to get better at shooting deer is to shoot more deer. When hunters evolve, the outcome is to not shoot just any, first, big, antlered, deer but to shoot just one specific deer. The hunter must stay afield longer and become familiar with just one targeted deer. During the hunt, hunters will be surrounded by other deer that they will not harvest. Hunter attitude, purpose, and excitement changes. Now the hunter can relax and observe deer in a relaxed manner. Deer school 101 is now in session.

If you are hunting on a game farm, you can target a specific deer as well. Removal of a certain deer will impact the herd. “Cull Deer”, can be one option. These deer may not be of the quality a client, or land manager desires. Prime bucks with heavy, large, non-typical, or unique racks are in more demand. Certain larger bucks will have a specific value.

Selecting a specific deer makes the hunt more exciting. The moment you have waited for is often the result of an extensive commitment, hunt, or hunts. You have learned so much about this one, specific deer. Respectfully, you must now harvest it with your one best shot. Make sure that your hunting, and shooting skills, are at their best.

The part I hate most about deer hunting is killing them. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the hunt, meat, shooting, butchering, beauty, healthy food, and every other aspect of the hunt. Catch and release fishing allows the catch to go free. I wish that were the case for hunting. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a coupon for groceries, and antlers, after you tag a big buck?

The sadness I feel when tagging a harvested critter is important. Especially after hunting a specific deer, that I have become so familiar with. If I felt nothing, then I would have a problem. This moment of mortality becomes an opportunity for a respectful ritual. As hunters, we are closer to the land than others. It is respectful to give a prayer of thanks. If I am leaving the butchered carcass, as in elk hunting, I face their remains into the setting sun. A sprig of grass, or sage, is placed into the deer’s mouth. I cover the carcass with branches and leave it for the other creatures of nature. Life is a natural cycle and one day, hunters become part of the cycle too. If I remove the whole deer, then it is treated respectfully and with care. Now it will become healthy food to feed my family.

There are one or two more levels that hunters can evolve too. Currently, I have discovered that teaching others how to hunt safely, successfully, and ethically, is the next step in my hunter evolution. This includes putting down the rifle, bow, black powder, and other guns, to tag my critters with a camera. My trophy room would be a gallery of close and unique shots of specific deer that I hunted. The biggest problem I see is that I can’t eat pictures.

It is most important for all hunters to evolve to the most sporting and ethical hunter they can become. Never stop setting new goals or challenges. Your example is important, and impacts all hunters. Deer hunters love deer. Treat all with the respect they deserve.

Hunt safely and ethically,
Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing.com.