Small Buck Shaming: Quit Making Excuses for Shooting a Small Buck

Just flip on outdoor TV or check your social media and you’ll likely find a hunter dropping some sort of excuse about a buck he or she just killed.

“He’s not the buck I was wanting, but I guess he’ll do.”

“He’s not the biggest buck, but we’re finally on the board.”

“He’s not one of my hit-list bucks, but I couldn’t resist.”

Why is it that hunters are seemingly apologizing or making excuses for the bucks they just killed? Is it because just a few weeks ago they were committed to some “Hit List” buck? Is it going to hurt their repuatation of being some type of elite hunter? Or maybe it’s just their best attempt to cover up a case of ground shrinkage?

Either way, you shot it…don’t shame it. Don’t down play the young two-year-old that you just punched your tag on. No, he’s not huge. No, he’s not the giant you had trail cam photos of. But he evidently got your heart pounding and adrenaline pumping enough to make you pull the trigger. Why not celebrate the moment instead of feeling like you owe the social media world an excuse or apology for shooting a smaller buck?

Ground shrinkage got you again? No big deal. Who really cares? Just don’t go trying to cover it up by calling it a, “Cull Buck.” You shot it. Own it.

One of the latest stunts I’ve seen hunters using a lot lately is referring to the young 2-year-old buck they just killed as an, “Old Warrior,” on its way down. Seriously? How ’bout we call it what it is. You killed a young buck. That’s awesome! That is, until you begin to make excuses and seemingly apologize for it.

Bro-Spike-2017

This spike buck is the smallest buck of my hunting career, but I loved every minute of the hunt. No regrets.

How Do You Let Go of Small Buck Shaming?

Just ask yourself, “What would Fred do?” That’s right! W.W.F.D

We need more guys like Fred Eichler. That sucker will shoot a year and a half old buck with his bow and celebrate like it’s the first deer of his career. No matter the age, and no matter the size, Fred Eichler truly loves the game. And he couldn’t care less what others think about the size of the bucks he kills.

Take the time this season to revisit your hunting roots. Remember the excitement that came with success in those early days. Regardless of the size, celebrate the hunt. God gave us the responsibility of having dominion over the critters we pursue. Don’t ever apologize or make excuses for the animals you take. Shoot what you want this season! No regrets.

Comments

  1. Great article. Especially if you are hunting highly pressured land or public land. You might have to go several years before even seeing a “shooter buck” let alone getting an opportunity at one. If you’re an experienced hunter and you have good land then yeah, you should be passing little bucks. There would be a lot less hunters out there if everyone had to wait on 4 or 5 year old bucks, new hunters would likely give it up if that was the standard. Harvesting any deer should be something celebrate.

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  2. Jacob marshall says:

    The problem I have is the hunters that shoot the small young bucks and then says “there isn’t a recipe for the horns” when earlier that day they passed on 20 different doe. I want to tell them why are you lieing? your lack of experience and ability to judge in the field is showing! That’s also why I tell people that they should carry binos no matter how far the distance you have to shoot. 9 Times out of 10 my binos are the first thing I raise unless its obvious it’s a shooter. I use to live in the U.P. and was almost disowned by my inlaws when I decided to pass a young 8 one year.

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      Judging deer in the field, has only to do with those television guys If he is a 3 years old, or 4 years old. If he is mature or not. If he can make a baby deer he is mature. If you don’t want to shoot him, then don’t However, for me, if he has a nice rack and he is old enough to breed, I’m shooting that ismature enough for this bow hunter.

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  3. I got my first buck amd my first with a bow this year. Mine is a spike and I couldnt be happier!

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      I know the feeling. I remember my first deer with a bow. It was a pike. But I felt like I had killed the biggest, wiliest deer in the woods.

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  4. KJ Houtman says:

    Love this. WWFD.

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  5. Love this article, Brodie! Thanks! I do remember those early years when any deer would make me nervous and shake, every deer still does! However, for me these days, it’s about managing a herd of deer. I want to see what deer can become. The trill of tag punches comes from arrowed does now. For me, there is no better feeling than to watch a buck mature after years of holding it because of hard work and habitat improvements, then selectively kill him. But to the article’s point, you’re correct in that deer hunting should be satisfactory to the one who releases the arrow or bullet.

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      Ryan, the deer here is wild a plains bronco. You don’t see them. We don’t have big plots of land with corn and beans growing in lush pastors. These deer are the king of hide and seek. They live and hide in hilly woods, with the winds shifting and swirling. If you don’t shoot a good deer when you get the chance, you won’t because another hunter will shoot it.

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  6. If you don’t think Fred was a trophy hunter you are ill informed. I dont think that sort of analogy is appropriate or necessary. Simply put “you were excited enough to take the animal and call it yours, don’t second guess it or measure it to someone else success”

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      I think ever time I hear a hunter say , ” that deer is only a 2 or a 3 year old, that deer is not mature.” He is to young to shoot. None-the-less, that deer has a rack with 14 points. but the hunter lets him walk. Only to find him dead at the end of the season from EHD. ( Epizootic hemorrhagic disease. ) That is poor management if you ask me. Now, all the hunter has of that young deer is a skeleton rack, eat up with EHD. He should of shot it instead of waiting until the deer is 5 or 8 years old. The odds are against them living that long. Take the trophy and be happy. Remember tomorrow is not promised!

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  7. great article and reminder to all hunters!

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  8. Great article! I still get the excitement if it’s a nice buck or a doe. I’ll quit hunting when I don’t get excited. This season I’ve had my eye out for a big buck I’ve seen for three years now, but I was just as excited to shoot a nice 8 pointer earlier today. No point in shaming anybody if it is a legal deer ethically taken.

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  9. problem today is too many are seeking validation on social media……loose the social media and constant need for validation and the problem goes away! i am proud of every deer i harvest and grateful that the lord allowed me the opportunity!

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      Amend my friend. Enough said.

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  10. Jim Ross says:

    I agree wholeheartedly ! I’ve stopped watching some outdoor shows because some guy passes on a bigger buck than I’ve ever seen during season waiting for a “shooter”!!

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  11. KYWildcat says:

    I’m glad someone finally said it out loud! Seems like the same thing happens with doe. I’m pleased as punch when we have meat that gets us completely through winter. Praise God and enjoy the woods!

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  12. Andrew Kaczmarski says:

    Love your point of view. Thanks for sharing it in this article.

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  13. I recently took a smaller buck 8 point maybe 110, didn’t measure him really. Was so happy I recovered and will be consuming with my friends and family. Thank you Brodie for telling it like it is

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  14. Well..Different strokes for different folks..what ever a hunter shoots they need to be thankful to God for the oppourtunity and ability..at the same time it must be mentioned that some are “trigger happy”..which I attribute to impatience and inexperience..and lastly the size of the rack is not a priority..putting meat in the freezer is!

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  15. Cory Sutton says:

    Sadly it will fall on deaf ears, Hunting has turned into who has the biggest ****!! the fun, the adventure, the journey, does not exist anymore, it’s all about big bucks and big bucks $$$! The monthly magazine called “Racks” sums up the entire hunting industry.

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    • Paul Blackburn says:

      Sad to say. Money is the snake in the apple tree of bow hunting today. Outlandish pricing of bows, tree stand is the reason young bow hunters are not getting into the sport. They can buy a good gun for less than half of what a bow and a tree stand cost today

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  16. Paul Blackburn says:

    If a guy is lucky enough to live where he can harvest spikes, thank your lucky stars. In Arkansas, we use to be able to do that. But the game and fish jumped in and said we could only harvest 6 points or better. Meaning they had to have 3 points on one side. With that rule in as law, my freezer went empty. The game and fish said we were shooting to young of a deer. Their reasoning was that we needed to let them get more points on them. So we could be shooting big trophy deer like on television. Well a few things happened when that rule went into affect. However, there was another rule in affect for bow hunters at the same time that the game and fish put in to law that law. It was for bow hunters that they could not shoot any does while gun season was open. Now, all this time we could shoot these two deer we were seeing, a buck and a doe. Now, we could kill four deer at that time. But now two were taken away by this rule. Now, you put into affect the degree of difficulty of killing a deer with a bow. That cuts down and just about to take away another deer, for the bow hunter, to not harvest that he is seeing plenty of. As the gun season is going on. The gun hunters are harvesting all the legal deer. Now, as the season goes on ; all the bow hunter is seeing is spikes an 4 points, and does. Deer he can’t harvest for the freezer. Now all he has a chance for are, is those big trophy bucks. Deer that move at dark. Those deer that you hardly see. Now you can take away another deer. That makes 4 deer that the bow hunter can’t harvest, through rules of law and difficulty. In my math class 4 from 4 equals zero. My freezer went empty directly because of those things. Now, we have to many deer on the land. Now CWD is spreading through out parts of the state. Luck for me, as of now, it is not in my hunting are. My wife says she don’t care because she is not eating any deer now. EHD, in the mid west is now killing hundreds of big bucks. May be the will have to start shooting spikes out there. I would like nothing more than to be like Fred. To shoot spikes or what I wanted . As long as I was a deer. How ever the 3 point rule is still in affect here. It haw been dropped in the CWD areas.

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    • Scott Foote says:

      Paul, sounds like a lot of finger pointing going on here. Regardless of the Rules/Laws that are in effect for your state, it is not their fault that you did not harvest a deer this season. If it’s the meat that you want/need for your family, you are the one choosing to hunt with archery equipment, which as you know is harder to do, but it is your choice. You are the one deciding how many hours you are putting in the woods. You are the one deciding where to hunt. I noticed your season starts Sept. 23rd and goes through Feb. 28. That’s almost 5 months of Archery deer hunting. That’s a lot of time to be able to kill a deer! If you are complaining about not being able to hunt during the gun season with archery equipment, then have you thought of using a gun? again if the soul purpose is for you to get meat, then I suggest you consider what you are doing wrong and not filling your tag.

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      • Paul Blackburn says:

        Mr. Foote, I’m just saying when it comes to making rules. The rules always hinder the bow hunter. Oh, yes it is their fault. When they take away your rights to harvest deer through a legal season, and put into affect rules that penalize only the bow hunter, – to not kill legal deer when your chances are highest. Does and spikes and 4 points are not just walking through the woods saying put an arrow in me. They don’t want bow hunters killing does during gun season because gun hunters were shooting them with guns and saying the killed them with bows. So the game and fish put that in affect not because of bow hunters, but because gun hunters were breaking the laws. None-the-less, when a bow hunter gets a chance to kill a spike or a doe when he has a chance; gun season may be open. Now, there stands a big doe, or a spike or a 4 pointer 15 feet away, but you can’t shoot it because gun season is open. Now, they put more bull stuff in affect. Bow hunters must kill 3 points or better. They, the game and fish should be on the bow hunters side, but they are not, even though we take less than 1/3 of the deer harvested each season. When they make these rules, they think of only the gun hunter. They have done nothing to help the bow hunter in the past 35 or 40 years. They only make it harder on us by making us pass test to hunt deer in the city limits. We don’t need to take any test, we just need the right to hunt inside the city limit. Like we are bad shots, and we are wounding up animals. They have made us criminals and painted us with that same wide brush that those people that’s use their bows to shoot their cats through the eyes. and shoot deer with practice points, making them look like a pin cushion. No, that not us. You damn right I’m pointing the finger. I’m pointing the finger at you and people like you that don’t know the real deal about bow hunting, and the game and fish commission. I’m pointing it at the game and fish because they hinders the sportsman freedoms to hunt and fish in this country by making those rules that you think is so righteous. They make rules that post us out, of national forest by locking gates to roads that should give us full access through the woods. I’ll keep pointing untill they and you get the point! I choose the bow and arrow because it is tough to kill deer with an arrow. It’s not about killing deer easy. It is about my right to do so with the weapon of my choice when the deer season is open. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’ve been bow hunting some 50 years with a bow and arrow. I would say that I’m a successful bow hunter. None-the-less, I don’t want the game and fish, and people like you to infringe upon my rights to hunt deer in season, with the weapon of my choice, by making up rules to hinder my success, and to lock me out and post me out of woods, that further hinder my chance for success that all hunters have paid to have the rights to. We as hunters paid for them to buy the land for our hunting pleasure. It our woods. We should have full access to all roads and trails in it during hunting season. If it was only about meat. I just go to the store and buy some.

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  17. andre lecours says:

    well said i agree 100%

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  18. Tim Stein says:

    I can appreciate the sentinent conveyed by the author. Personally, I subscribe to the theory that if you shoot little bucks, all you will shoot is little bucks. About 10 years ago, I resolved to only take mature bucks. Say that would score like 140 or so. It only took a couple of seasons to notice the results. I may not always get my “trophy”, but I always have at least 2 to 3 nice bucks in the area every year. If I don’t get a buck, I take a doe late in the season to put some meat in the freezer. I would also add that you should manage your herd the way you want. I totally agree with the author when it comes to the sentiment of “you shot it, own it”. I mean, isn’t the hunt kinda more about the fun, friends, and memories, as opposed to the score on a rack, or the pounds of meat you put in your freezer? Good luck to everybody this year, and happy hunting!!

    Reply
  19. Brian J Schrift says:

    Great article Brody! So true!

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  20. Brian J Schrift says:

    Sorry, Brodie 🙂

    Reply
  21. Joseph Finley says:

    I agree with management but this is a bit extreme I think a bow hunter should be able to kill a doe and mature buck anytime during a season.
    I think a season should be split but mostly archery only but that’s my opinion.
    If everyone shot immature deer all season you will wind up with a empty freezer anyway in a few years just depends on how many hunters are in the state.

    Reply
    • Paul Blackburn says:

      Mature, in the deer world is when a buck or doe is grown enough to breed and produce a baby.

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  22. Great post but remember to thank God and the deer for the sustenance provided to your family.

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  23. As a long time bow hunter I’ve shot many deer and I can tell you the biggest rush I had was holding back on a large doe at 10 yds who stopped in dry sumac. As usual she stopped before taking the last one needed for the shot. After what seemed like an eternity with me at full draw and her twisted necked lookin straight up at me, I was at the point where I was getting to have to let off the she took the needed step. I was seven feet up in that olé tree just standing in a Y of a fork, heart pounding in my ears, shaking from head to toe, arms burning like someone using a blow torch on em! I got to let fly and that nice deer was kind enough to run the 40 yds to the road and give up the ghost right there in the bar ditch! And I was so glad I could of floated to that road but arms were dead I could only carry my bow in the bent burning fingers (finger releasing bk then) was no way I could of drug her an inch. One of the best times ever! TROPHY…. An item a person takes for remembering. So whether it antlers or meat we are all “trophy hunters”.

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