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Have we lost our way???


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Talking with the landowner and two friends yesterday an interesting topic/ discussion began that I thought I would throw out here for opinions/outlook. We were discussing progression in outlook of what you wanted to obtain hunting whitetails. We all agreed when we were young it was a buck, any buck. But as time progressed along it became larger racks and older deer letting smaller deer pass that in the past we would have arrowed in a heartbeat. Nothing that most of you haven’t discussed between friends. But the the landowner made an interesting admission. Granted this guy has a wall of bucks most would dream of, 11  in total all from his farm with the biggest being 156”. He said and I quote “ I lost my way years ago when I started hunting for the mature buck and rack by any means instead of enjoying the chase” when I asked what he meant by that he responded “All of those bucks were shot on my farm on my terms, over bait and I regret not trying to bag one of them on his terms”. He then pointed to a 125” buck and said he would have rather taken that buck on its terms traveling from point A to B than the other larger racks over bait. An interesting outlook and admission from years and hunts past. I asked why he doesn’t start now but he laughed and said “too late now, I lost interest that’s why I let you hunt my property now” I thought about what he said/admitted through the evening and kind of agree. I hunt travel routes and do bait also, but looking back now and thinking about it the most memorable or should I say satisfying were those hunts where I found the route, set up multiple times then got lucky. I vividly remember one buck I hunted for 7 weeks, waiting for the right winds and one November morning finally scoring. I remember the excitement I shared with a friend hunting the other side of the property. Seems every detail is still so clear so many years later. This post is no way intended to frown upon any legal means of hunting but it does make me think of what that landowner self admittedly said “ I lost my way” So the question is... Does it matter to you in the manner you take a mature animal or is it that you just make sure you take a mature animal? Do you have a deeper appreciation for an animal you harvest without baiting or does it not matter? Do you feel we have lost our way when it comes to the manner in which we pursue?

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I have always enjoyed the chase. Once i kill the buck i wonder how i am going to enjoy the rest of the season now that the buck i killed is dead. I enjoy being out in the woods chasing whitetails. And feel a little of a let down after killing a buck i eas chasing. So now for, i have taken a different approach. Bringing new hunters out and helping them kill their first deer. That  gives me a whole different emjoyment in the pursuit of whitetaols. I have killed deer on my terms and others on their terms. I enjoyed every one the same. So i do not share the same feeling as your farmer. I understand his feeling though. 

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I never hunted over bait.  I am from Pa and it is illegal and I only hunt public in NJ where baiting is illegal.  I very much enjoy the chase.  I like putting up trail cams finding big bucks then trying to get lucky all the while passing on small bucks. At least during archery.   Just my thought

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I enjoy the fact that shooting a mature buck is not easy!    I don't subscribe to one method, I employ all methods (except deer drives).      Lock-on or ladder stands near baited sites, lock-ons in known travel corridors,  lock-ons near natural food sources such as hay fields, corn fields or oak trees.  Climbing stand - when feel the need to make a move.  This year added a Barronett extra tall ground blind to the arsenal - I can easily move this around and shoot standing up with compound.   Definitely do not feel I lost my way - and totally ok to eat tag soup and keep enjoying the chase, and maybe this year I will have a bowl of tag soup but I  don't want to lower my standards just to say I shot a buck.   So many of my trophies were unique in how the hunt unfolded, and while a few have followed the same script out of my best stand, vast majority were extremely different.  

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I just wanna go. Just want a place to go with peace and quiet. I kill enough for what I need to get through until next year. I'm happy just seeing them, close or at a distance. I hunt over bait, I hunt spots that just look good, I hunt spots I just wander into the woods and sit down and see what happens. I'm not concerned over how I harvest something as long as it is ethical, clean, and quick. That is always my main priority. If I shoot something it is meaningful regardless of method. 

Peoples' individual methods, strategies, and motivations for hunting are shifting and no two hunters' means are the same. I don't think we've necessarily "lost our way", rather our way is just taking a different route as they ebb and flow in and out of hunting.

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2 minutes ago, JHbowhunter said:

I enjoy the fact that shooting a mature buck is not easy!

Imagine doing it without bait!

 

Definition of trophy is different for everyone. My mature 6 point with a bow at 19 yards is much more of a trophy than my 12 point monster I took with a rifle from 187 yards. 

 

Judging by your pictures- you have some REAL trophies and definitely dont lower your standards lol thats a high bar set!

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I shot my first ever Doe back in 2010 Opening day before sundown. They were walking in line away from be about 25 yards. I baited a lot that year because it was my first year ever hunting. I was thrilled as anyone can be for their first deer. I'll remember that forever. My first and only buck to this day, came that October while the buck was munching on the corn I had out. Harvested him and was excited. Tracking him and finding him made it that much better and that was by myself too. Anyways, for me, it doesn't matter if it's over bait or just the deer walking in on you at the right time and right place. If bait brings in the deer for me so I can get the meat and perhaps a trophy for the wall. Great. If not, I hope that deer walks in on me. 

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Never too late to change, and it doesn't have to be just about baiting and only hunting mature deer .  Treestands got boring for me and I was loosing interest.  Racks never really mattered to me, but I did get caught up in the hype for a bit of there being something special about them.  Always enjoyed the hunt and remembered the deer shot from the ground the most.  Going back to doing it that way made hunting interesting again and fun.  I don't see as many deer this way, but it's the hunt that makes hunting interesting.

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to me I will consider loosing my way if getting food was not #1 reason for deer hunting. This way I enjoy putting my hands on every single deer I kill several times from gutting to processing and eating  it. 
yes I do love taking good bucks but that’s just in addition to somethings already great. 

as to baiting I stopped many years ago and I enjoy hunting more because of it. 
 

 

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I have turned to deer habitat enhancement for enjoyment which has led me to  a deeper appreciation for the deer I hunt. Being 59 this month, I am thrilled to take any deer today almost as much as when I killed my first buck with a rifle in Pennsylvania at 14. I choose to shoot any deer that makes me happy under the circumstances (man made or natural) that puts them in-front of me.

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I never was big on baiting as many of you know. Can you really call it fair chase? That question is still pretty much left unanswered. I learned to let each to their own. I see the success and I'm happy for those who are proud of their efforts to harvest a deer. I, like the farmer in the original post, am certainly more satisfied when harvesting deer on their terms.

Now being somewhat handicapped I'll  just be happy to be in the game. There is a whole lot more to it just as there always was. 

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I should add - I also enjoy harvesting a doe a lot more than I used to.    I like the EAB challenge, and part of that challenge is to find the right one (no fawns), but thats just my preference.  This year's EAB doe  happened to not only be the largest doe I have ever taken, she was also dry which suggests she probably lost one or more to cars or predators early on.   She sure yielded a lot more meat than any doe I ever had butchered as well - I am with Lunatic on the entire aspect of it, starting with the meat. 

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It is no more noble to hunt a deer for it's antlers than for it's meat. I don't judge anyone's reason for hunting. I was raised a "meat" hunter. I never "trophy" hunted deer in NJ and have done a few out of state deer hunts and quickly realized that killing a "trophy" deer anywhere is a big task. It's not worth the effort to me. I have "trophy" hunted in South Africa because you can't bring home the meat. I killed a Cow Moose on my next to last day of a hunt in Newfoundland because I didn't want to miss out on delicious Moose meat. I am not satisfied with one or no deer a year in a quest to kill a "big one".  I will kill the first decent buck I can because I don't care about the antlers. I have enough on the wall already and it was not by design.  I don't look down on people who bait. On the contrary, I pity all the time, effort, and expense they expend for a hunting method that is marginal at best. I would guess that in an area with a good population, you would kill the same deer without bait. My family and friends like venison too much for me to hold out for one deer. In NJ, deer mostly hunt US. We sit in a stand and wait for them to find US.  If you get an occasional "trophy" it's because you probably earned it one way or another. I don't make that kind of sacrifice for antlers. I have several crossbows, a muzzleloader, and many firearms. I like to use all of them to harvest game. I don't own all of that to NOT use them.

Edited by archer36
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48 minutes ago, _X7 said:

I never was big on baiting as many of you know. Can you really call it fair chase? That question is still pretty much left unanswered. I learned to let each to their own. I see the success and I'm happy for those who are proud of their efforts to harvest a deer. I, like the farmer in the original post, am certainly more satisfied when harvesting deer on their terms.

Now being somewhat handicapped I'll  just be happy to be in the game. There is a whole lot more to it just as there always was. 

This fair chase is weird to me all together. Is it fair to blast a deer with a 30-06 from 150 yards. How about guys shooting from 900 yards, sitting on adjacent mountain?  No baiting but is it fair......chase? In reality the "fair chase" argument is very arbitrary and  it only works for the very person making the argument based on his own set requirements. Therefore, IMO, one can never win this argument.

Edited by Lunatic
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