The term “trophy whitetail” has been the buzz word for countless articles, blogs, videos and campfire chatter. You might see the giant buck in your own mind as your buddy describes a 12 pointer he saw driving home from college, failing to mention that it was standing on the 18th hole at the golf course. These images are everywhere and for many can instill an unrealistic view of a trophy whitetail.

There are only a few places you can realistically pursue a giant whitetail and unfortunately, most of us don’t hunt there. There is always going to be the odd giant harvested in everyone’s hunting area and it’s good to know there’s a chance at getting a shot at one, but it’s important to realize what the average size buck is for where you hunt. You shouldn’t hold out for a 24-inch 12 pointer if only one of those have been killed in the past 30 years in your area or you might not ever take a shot.

The most important thing about hunting is the hunt, even if you hunt trophy bucks the hunt itself is the most important thing and keeping a realistic perspective will help you enjoy the hunt much more by increasing your success rate. So many hunters today lose sight of the hunt and only focus on the kill. I love to hunt mature whitetails, but I learned long ago that if I was going to enjoy bowhunting for years to come I would have to adjust my perspective.

Changing your perspective can be tough, but if you’ve been trying to target a giant buck in your area and let smaller bucks walk, take a good look at where you hunt and get a realistic perspective. If someone consistently takes a big buck every year, consider where they hunt. Is it private land with great deer habitat and lots of agricultural crops to pull the deer to them while you hunt a few hundred acres of woods along with several other hunters and no crops? Your chances of taking a giant are less than your friend with the thousand-acre farm and sole permission to hunt.

We see all these videos of hunters harvesting magnificent deer with a bow. If you watch these hunters a lot of the time they are moving around and whispering to their cameraman, which are in the tree with them, to get ready, all before making the shot. Now I don’t know about where you hunt, but even on the private land I hunt that would not work and the public land I hunt I dare say you wouldn’t even see a deer. I love to watch those guys and to see mature bucks acting normal because even that is rare in highly-pressured hunting areas as the mature bucks are always on the alert during daylight hours. At the same time I view those hunts realistically and know that it just ain’t going to happen that way where I hunt.

I can honestly say that some of my favorite hunts ended with harvesting a doe. A mature doe can be even more difficult to take than a mature buck and should be considered a trophy as well. I know that many hunters refuse to kill does but today, in most areas across America, the population is in good enough condition to consider harvesting a doe. With so many states limiting the number of bucks you can take, the doe can help extend your season and provide many more hunts–which is always a good thing for an avid hunter.

Hunting is a great way to spend a week or just a weekend with some friends but the hunt itself should be yours alone. If your buddy kills a great buck you should share that exuberance but never compare your buck or the buck you want to kill with his. Your day will come when you get a shot at a great buck and it will be your turn to relish the moment, but in the meantime it is important to enjoy your hunt. Keep a realistic perspective of the buck you want to harvest and let the hunt be the trophy and if the buck isn’t a giant, let the memory be the mount.

Image courtesy Ken McBroom

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