Trophy Minded: Is Trophy Hunting Hurting Our Sport?on Sep 23, 2012
Coinciding with the proliferation of older bucks has been a boom in the whitetail-hunting industry. And the emphasis clearly has been on growing and hunting trophy-class whitetails. There’s a glut of television shows, web sites, magazines and books that glorify the trophy lifestyle. How many times have you seen a decent buck walk under the stand of your favorite TV hunter, who leaves his bow on its hook, looks into the camera and says, “He’s a good one, but he needs another year or two to really blow up!”
“I think TV has had a lot to do with the trophy mindset,” said a bowhunter from Ohio. “Everybody wants to be like those guys on TV now, hunting for the biggest racks around.”
But TV hunters, websites and magazine editors are only producing what the public wants to see.
“You’re going to sell more DVDs if they’re full of 160-inch kills than if they’re 110s,” a professional hunter said. “That’s just the way the business works. The demand for seeing big bucks is there.”
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It was unheard of for a whitetail outfitter 20 years ago to impose a minimum score restriction on clients. A few had minimum point requirements, but now it’s common to walk into a camp and hear that all bucks under 125 inches or 140 inches, etc. are off limits.
“If you don’t do that, guys will shoot all your future trophies before they have a chance to grow up,” a Missouri outfitter said.
Jeff Brown is a Pennsylvania bowhunter and a state bowhunting education instructor. He’s noticed an impact of all the hype about trophy bucks. “Everybody talks about inches of antler and record books these days,” he said. “If you shoot a 115-inch eight-pointer, you’re made to feel like you did something wrong. What happened to just enjoying the hunt?” Doty sees some good in the growth of knowledge of and interest in antler scoring.
“We can communicate better about the bucks we’re seeing,” he said. “You can say, ‘I saw a 10 pointer,’ but there are small 10 pointers and there are big ones. If someone tells you they saw a 150-inch 10-pointer, then you can visualize what they saw.”