Is Counting Inches Killing Deer Hunting?

By Brodie SwisherDecember 17, 201825 Comments

LAST UPDATED: December 22nd, 2020

It was about this time last year when we posted the article, Small Buck Shaming, here at Bowhunting.com. If you haven’t read it, go back and check it out when you’re done here. The article resonated with thousands of hunters across the country that are tired of the trophy trend that seems to be pushed as the new standard for all deer hunters. They’ve had enough of hearing outdoor TV hosts say that anything less than a giant buck is, “…just not good enough.” This time around, however, I want to give you a closer look at how, for some, counting inches is killing deer hunting.

No, I’m not against scoring deer. It’s obviously cool to know how your buck measures up. But when you find yourself disappointed in a buck that you took off the face of the earth because he’s, “not quite big enough,” you have a problem. When you find yourself counting inches for no other reason than to beat the next guy, you have issues that need to be addressed. I’ve seen guys get so caught up in antler inches that it was eating away at their lives like cancer.


And if you need a real-world look at how counting inches is killing deer hunting, we’ve got you covered. Below is the story of a woman that allowed antler inches to seemingly ruin Christmas. She’s like that crazy soccer mom, only worse. She’s a deer hunting mom that got way too caught up in counting inches.

big buck walking - It's-Okay-to-Let-the-Deer-Win-1
What do you count as most important in your deer hunting pursuit?

Here’s the story from Daryl Ratajczak, former Deer Coordinator for TN Wildlife Resources Agency…

About ten years ago, I was working late trying to get a few things wrapped up that had been laying on my desk way too long. Even as the deer coordinator for Tennessee, you are sometimes tasked with menial jobs that require you to be cooped up in your office. It was with great relief that I received a phone call from a woman who wanted to stop by my office after work with a deer her son had killed two months earlier. Her hope was to get it scored by an official B&C scorer and present her son with the framed score sheet for Christmas. I had nothing pressing going on that evening so staying after work and helping her provide this gift for her son was my pleasure.

The lady arrived at the office and immediately upon seeing the deer I knew it was something special. It turned out her 14-year-old son had taken it during the October Young Sportsman’s hunt. The deer was not only the talk of the family, but it was also the talk of the town. We took the mount into the conference room and you could see the look of excitement in her eyes as we began taping up the deer in preparation for scoring. It took about twenty minutes as I walked her through the measurements, even having her assist me with holding the cables so she felt part of the scoring process. When all was said and done and the numbers were recorded, I excused myself to use the scoring program in my office to make sure there were no “human-caused” mathematical errors.

I was impressed when the numbers came back. Her young son had taken a brute of a deer scoring just over 164” typical! I returned to the conference room anxious to tell her the final score. When I announced the net score of 164-1/8” and congratulated her, her demeanor drastically changed. Her happy jovial mood was suddenly swept away and tears began to fill her eyes. She actually became quite distraught.

“There must be some mistake!” she said. “His grandfather told him it was going to score over 170” and make the record books! I can’t show him this scoresheet. He is going to be devastated!” We double checked all the numbers to satisfy her denial. Upon her realization the score was indeed correct she grabbed the mount and hurriedly gathered the score sheet, crinkling it up in her free hand. I guess there was going to be no framing for Christmas.

Clearly, this women took the number of antler inches entirely too serious. When you are moved to the point of tears, anger, and disappointment over what your deer scores, you really ought to reevaluate your motives and purpose. This attitude is disrespectful to the animal that has fallen for our pleasure, and it goes against everything the hunting heritage was built upon. Enjoy the hunt. Count the moments and memories that you’ve spent hunting with family and friends.

Shoot the big bucks when the opportunity comes your way, but don’t get so caught up in counting inches that you miss out on what the hunt is truly all about.

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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