Ground Shrinkage: Top Excuses Hunters Make

By Brodie SwisherNovember 17, 2023

Deer hunting annually delivers a rollercoaster of emotions for countless hunters across the country. Those exciting moments immediately following the shot on an animal can take you from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows.  It happens every year!  You drop the string on a buck that you just know will easily win the local big buck contest, and just might be a new state record. He’s the biggest buck of your life! However, things change quickly when you walk up and discover he’s not near as big as what you remember from the treestand. 

It’s honestly a sick feeling. And it’s much worse when you’ve rallied the troops to help you recover this “buck of a lifetime.” It’ll truly make you sick when it happens to you. However, for your hunting buddies surrounding you, it’ll provide a pile of laughs, jabs, and jeers that’ll haunt you for the rest of your hunting career. Particularly when you begin to cover up your mishap with some of the standard excuses hunters make. 

What are these excuses? 

Let’s take a look below at the top excuses hunters make for ground shrinkage. 

Ground Shrinkage: Top Excuses Hunters Make

He's a Pretty Deer!

We’ve all seen it before. A frazzled hunter, struggling with ground shrinkage, lifts the small rack from the ground and does his best to act pleased with the outcome. Fighting back the tears, he says,  “Well, he’s a pretty deer.” This excuse sounds a lot like the comments made back in high-school about the girl that wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but she “had a pretty face.” 

He Looked Really Big From the Back

Every hunter will sooner or later feel the scorn of making a judgement call based on a buck walking away. They all look big walking away. Don’t do it! Let them turn sideways for a better look. Whistle, bleat, grunt, or yell. He’ll look back, giving you a better idea of what he really looks like. 

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He's a Good Cull Buck

One of the most disrespectful things a hunter can do is to blame his or her poor judgement of a deer’s size on the buck itself. Hunters do it every year when they label their ground shrinkage victim as a cull buck. In reality it’s just a young buck that never had a chance to reach its full potential. Sure, there are some goofy-racked bucks running around that may have genetics you’d rather not see passed on to the herd. But don’t be the hunter that uses the word “cull” as a crutch for poor judgement at the shot. 

He's an Old Warrior

Watch outdoor TV long enough and you’ll likely hear a show host use this one to cover up the shooting of a young buck. “He’s an old warrior on his way down,” they’ll say. But a closer look at the body features of the buck will quickly determine that’s a lie. There seems to be a lot of 2-year-old bucks out there passed off as “old warriors.” 

Those G2's Got Me!

A buck with tall G2 tines will immediately catch your attention. And for many hunters, that’s all they need to see. For some, tall G2’s is all the greenlight they need, and the shot soon will follow. Unfortunately, tall G2’s can be incredibly misleading. You better make sure there’s more to the package than a pair of impressive 2’s. 

Ground Shrinkage: Top Excuses Hunters Make

He Looked Bigger in My Binos!

Binoculars will burn you when it comes to sizing up your buck, particularly if you fail to look closer at other factors and features of the buck’s build. Young bucks look like giants when viewed with 10×42 binos under 100 yards. A quick look with the glass is all it takes to send some hunters into kill mode. This is a sure bet for ground shrinkage. Slow down. Take your time, and look a little closer at how the buck’s rack measures up to the rest of its body and ears? Always look twice before dropping the string. 

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That's Not My Deer!

One of the all-time greatest excuses for ground shrinkage is, ‘That’s not my deer!” It’s a response that’s been heard at countless deer camps across the country. It’s the expression that comes with the most shocking case of ground shrinkage. But as they say, the hardest part is admitting it. Sooner or later, the reality of the situation sets in, and the hunter is left kneeling next to a young buck, and a ground shrinkage story of his own. 

What about you? Have you ever fallen victim to an encounter with ground shrinkage? Comment below, and tell us all about it. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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