Let them Go and Let them Grow

Dan Braman

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  • Prostaff Member Dan Braman

Countless times I have been sitting in my home watching a hunting show and some guy is in the top of tree whispering. “ Here he comes, what a buck.” Then, out walks a two year old buck with barely eight points and a twelve inch spread. Most of the time I always think to myself that there is no way he's going to shoot him. Then, BANG, and the little buck balls up in a pile. The outfitter, the hunter, nor anyone else will ever know the potential of the buck that just hit the dirt.

During a professional hunting career that has spanned 22 years, I have had the opportunity to be involved with around a dozen hunting shows. I know exactly how this works; the outfitters give an animal away simply for advertisement. Of course they give away their management animals because the true trophies are worth too much money. However, 7 out of 10 times it is not management animals being taken; it is young animals.

For example, last night a hunting show was in Kansas hunting whitetail. They shot a 2 ½ year old 8 point. So rather then wait and find something that was an obvious genetic inferior they whistled a broadhead through the first deer they saw. It completely disgusts me when this happens. Kansas has been known for huge whitetail for years and years. I actually bought myself a hunt in Kansas a few years ago and a fellow guide and I went up there.

Their operation seemed well run and the references we called had nothing bad to say. We went up a day early just to do some scouting. While riding around with our host he was talking to us about bucks that been taken in the archery season past. Numbers like 178BC, 185BC, and 188BC were common. Both of us looked at each other with skepticism because this was free range and that doesn't happen that often.

Early the next morning we were in our stands and sat until dark that night. I saw a ten-point buck around 11AM that may have scored 150 if he was lucky. The buck was 3 ½ years old and had potential to be a monster. My buddy Chaise saw a buck that he rough scored at 145 and looked to about 3 ½ also. At dinner that night our host asked us what we had seen and when I mentioned seeing a 10-point around 150BC he almost choked. “ Why in the hell didn't you shoot him?” Then and there I knew all the 180's we heard about yesterday were made up.

The following day a gentleman from Virginia crippled what he explained to us to be a monster. He was shaking so bad he pulled the shot and hit the buck in the flank. We volunteered to go help with the search. Keep in mind the hunts are advertised as guided but when you get there that only means someone drives your stand. The man from Virginia explained to us that the deer had a huge spread and long tines. He also said that he had mass and 10 perfect points. Lastly he said that his buck would easily gross 170BC.
Man, I was excited and wanted to help this gentleman find his buck. The blood trail was good for about one hundred yards then poof it was gone. Long story short, we found the buck and all the hunter could say was how big he was. The deer did in fact have ten points; the tallest tine was six inches. His main beams were 19 inches long. I personally tooth aged this buck at 3 ½ years old. The hunter then said, “ You know, maybe that buck wasn't as big as I thought he was; but, he's big for Virginia.” Well, we weren't in Virginia and it is that attitude that makes for small bucks when you are in Virginia. If 75% of the hunters in Virginia share in that belief there is no wonder the bucks are all small.

I feel like it is incumbent that people become educated about the animals they are hunting. I wish there was a way in which I could explain to hunters the importance of not taking the young deer out of the heard. But, as long as the TV hunters are killing the little ones, most of the general public will find nothing wrong with it.

I’ve read articles where people shot a four point because it was the last day of the season. Even worse, I’ve had client's fathers ask me to allow their children to kill a young deer simply because it will be their first deer. To me, that's not starting out with very good ethics. Before long that young man or lady will be making up their own excuse for killing the second one. Excuses are plentiful just watch the hunting shows. You will here things like, that's a good one for a bow, this was our last day here, old Joe Blow got a six point so I shot this young eight, this list goes on and on. I truly wish this could be stopped.

In my opinion, all young bucks with potential should be given a chance to grow. All the jake turkeys shouldn't be shot just because he came in or it was a kid's first hunt. Certainly my opinion on this issue will not parallel everyone else's, however, I would hope that more people would take the time to understand it. There is nothing on this earth I love more then hunting, I live and breathe it every day of my life. I practice what I preach as my son's first buck scored 174BC and the buck was 6 ½ years old when my son took it. Some people will say that where their son hunts there are no 174's around. More then likely the reason there are no big ones around is because they were shot before they had a chance to grow.

Posted by Dan Braman under Deer Hunting on June 13, 10 09:16 AM | Permalink

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