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Location: Idaho
Joined: 09/20/2004
Posts: 3
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

As a new hunter one thing that bugs me is that so much of the educational literarure including videos, books, and magazine articles showcase trophy hunts often with expert guides.

I live in Idaho and hunt elk and deer. For now I only go after cows and does. There are more tags available, more animals, and it's an easier way to start. Once I'm proficient at hunting the females I may decide to try some buck hunts and go for the rack but for now that is not important to me.

In too many of these vidoes and articles all they talk about is going after bucks. They often feature hunts with guides which go a lot more smoothly than those of us hunting alone on public land with no one to guide us to where the animals are.

I wish they would address both needs. I'm fine with the articles, books, videos, etc. on big buck hunts but I also want to see some equal time spent on beginning hunters who won't have guides and only want a female.

Granted there is a lot of overlap but for the beginner it's helpful to point out the overlap and the differences. If I watch a video that features a lot of bugling to attract an elk buck how do I know if that same bugling will work for a female? Do you bugle at all for cows? Do you use cow calls? Do you skip calling at all? Also, a lot of these videos feature rut hunting. I have yet to hunt during the rut so is bugling worth it then? How would you approach a cow hunt different from a buck hunt? How do you best scout public land? Etc.

I don't see near the availability on these topics versus the big buck hunts. Now maybe 90% of hunters want the big buck and it makes sense for these information providers cater to them. If not though then I think they should provide more balanced training. I get tired of watching hunting magizine columnists go hunting during the rut with an expert guide and maybe an expert bugler from a company that manufactures bugles! That's cool and has some value but that's NEVER going to happen to me unless I win some dream hunt drawing.

Any thoughts?

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Joined: 06/18/2004
Posts: 66
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

elect son:

Interesting question.

I suspect most of what you are observing can be explained by analyzing the business of hunting. I'm not saying I'm the guy who has all the answers and have analyzed this fully -- observe the "suspect" verb I employed -- but think about it some along the lines I will suggest and see what this illuminates.

I think that many hunters have been sold on the idea that the objective of a hunt is an animal with big horns. If you want to bag an animal with big horns, you can improve your chances a lot by spending a lot of money; if you want to bag an animal with big horns but you can't spend a lot of money, this is going to be difficult. This is a general statement and won't hold in all cases. For example, I think many trophy class pronghorn antelope are located on private ranchs that sell leases to outfitters who require you to pay them lots of money to hunt for the big pronghorns through them. This is not to say that ALL trophy antelope are found on private ranches, but perhaps the public land doesn't enjoy the same game management emphasis for trophies as does a private ranch.

If you want an animal with big horns you may be sold a gun to do the hunt of a lifetime: "You don't want to go undergunned on your once in a lifetime elk hunt, your 'hunt of a lifetime.' " What does "elk hunt of a lifetime" mean? I suspect it means paying an outfitter a lot of money to pack you into the wilderness where you can shoot a bull elk with big horns. Is an elk hunt for a 3 point rag horn elk or for a cow elk a "hunt of a lifetime?" A whole chain of expensive gear can be sold based on the desire of the hunter to get an advantage that may allow him to bag the animal with bigger horns.

Consider my points in reverse. Do you need to hire an outfitter and hunt on a private ranch to get a modest buck antelope? Do you need to hire an outfitter to bag a doe whitetail or doe mule deer or a cow elk? Do you need the superbanger magnum to go on a cow elk hunt, especially if you are liable to get a chance to hunt cow elk next year or the year after? Do you need the laser range finder if you don't need the absolutely biggest buck pronghorn in the county but are happy stalking and shooting any healthy buck pronghorn?

These are just my thoughts. Big antlers means business. The trophy hunter is a consumer. Think about operators of automobiles as consumers. The manufacturer conceives of a new product that he can make money on selling to the consumer, he produces a marketing campaign to convince the consumer he wants the product, the product is sold to the consumer, and the manufacturer pockets a tidy profit. Do I really need the 4WD package on my SUV?

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 09/20/2004
Posts: 3
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

Good points. No doubt it's all about the money. They want to sell you on the glory of a "once in a lifetime" hunt. When month after month your favorite hunting mags feature stories about monster bull/buck hunts it may get you longing to go on such a hunt. That in turn provides income for the guides and others.

Who hires a guide to hunt an elk cow or deer doe? Probably no one. They make their money off the big racks so that's what the mags and videos cater to.

There's also a pride issue I think. To some guys hunting a cow/doe is wimpy. What's the challenge in that they ask? What do you have to show for it afterwards? I have seen a few stuffed cow heads in my local hunting store but by far 90% of the wall mounts are males with horns, antlers, etc.

To me though I still get the thrill of the hunt, the enjoyment of the outdoors, and a freezer full of meat (if I'm successful). Hunting on public land is no sure thing even for a cow/doe. I don't think I'd enjoy a hunt where a guide did all the work and I'll I had to do is aim and pull the trigger no matter how massive the animal was. Nothing wrong with that but to me the satisfaction comes from finding the animal and getting into a position to shoot.

Last year I had an elk in my sights ready to shoot and my rifle jammed. I never got a shot off but I still went home excited that for the first time in my short hunting career I successfully found and snuck up on an elk and had a clear, easy shot from 75 yards. Now I have some confidence I can do it again. I had no guide, no recommendations. I was even hunting alone. That cow would have meant more to me than a monster bull elk a guide had led me right to.

If I had the money, I'd prefer a hunt where an outfit helped me out in terms of lodging and maybe a horse but left me on my own to find the animals. Maybe they could point me in a general direction but that's it.

That's me though...

Maybe I'll start my own line of hunting videos for the rest of us ;)

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Location: West Carleton, Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 12/23/2002
Posts: 1264
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

I have seen many outfitters who offer "non-trophy" or anterless hunts at drastically slashed rates. Usually you find this info in the small print on page 9 somewhere. Or call and ask.

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Location: centennial, co
Joined: 03/24/2003
Posts: 59
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

Personally, I've gotten relatively fed up with all the emphasis on antlers, horns, trophies, etc. Not unlike many other hunters, I enjoy watching hunting shows on TV in the off season and even during the season. But the one thing that always irritates me is that, 99 of 100 times, when an animal is taken and the hunter goes up for the first look and they kneel down next to it. What's the first thing they do? They start counting points and talking about how it will/would score.

It's gotten old and tired. Not to mention the standard it sets for people who don't understand that there's more to hunting than bagging the next world record...well maybe "settle" for something in the top 5. Just once I'd like to see somebody kneel down next to a 180-class deer and ignore the rack and say, "Man, I bet this deer weighs 300 lbs." I think I might go into shock if I ever saw that.

Of the shows that are on TV, I've actually stopped watching a number of them because all they do is focus on the "trophies." I can't say I'll ever watch another show that has anything to do with Jackie Bushman, even moreso since he now has a show simply titled "Racks TV," which is based on one of his publications, "Rack Magazine." Again, I might go into shock if he ever came out with a show called, "Cow/doe TV," based on another would-be publication, "Meat in the Freezer Magazine."

I've held this contention before when I said that I'm a meat hunter first. But I'll also be honest in saying that if I were to take a so-called "trophy," then sure, I would most likely hang it on my wall. Truth be told again, if there were two bulls out in front of me - one a 7x7 that weighs 700 lbs. and one that's a 4x4 that weighs 1000lbs. (all hypothetical, of course) - I may have a hard time deciding which one to take. I can't say that I wouldn't take the first one, but that's only in the case that I'd have a choice. That choice notwithstanding, I'm not going to limit my hunt to only a "trophy." I would still take that 4x4 if given the opportunity.

Well, this small novel has taken a bit more than I had planned to write. But I just wanted to throw in my two cents. I can tell you, though, that when I head out (3 weeks from tomorrow - woohoo!!), I will be carrying a bull tag, cow tag, and a third tag - either a buck or doe mule deer tag - I haven't decided yet. I'll have to sleep on it.

Good luck to y'all this season, and be safe!

Kupe

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 09/20/2004
Posts: 3
Too much focus on trophy hunts?

Here's a good case in point. I recently reviewed a "Big Game Hunt" video from the North American Hunting Club. One of the feature hunts was some guy from the club going on a bull elk hunt in the West. He had with him a local guide and some guy from a company that made elk calls who was an expert in using them.

So the guide takes them right to where the big bulls are then the guy with the elk calls starts bugling. Before long this huge bull elk comes into view bugling. He has a big rack (don't ask me how many points...) and this guy has an easy shot on him. Most hunters would have peed in their pants and shot him then and there. But not this guy. He thinks about it and decides there might be something bigger out there (i.e. bigger rack) and lets this one go! Sure enough a little time later after more expert bugling a smaller bull but with a bigger rack comes into view and this time he shoots.

I would have shot the first one without hesitation and I actually thought it was a more impressive looking animal even though the second one had a bigger rack. My prized "trophy" would have been the picture I took of the bull after I shot it not his rack.

The only value this video had to me was an example of what an expert bugle calls sounds like. The video contained no explanation about when to bugle, how to bugle, whether to bugle or cow call, etc. So it really didn't teach me a thing. I also know that I will probably NEVER go on a hunt like that with 2 experts with me. I hardly call that a hunt. All the guy with the gun had to do was sit tight, aim, and pull the trigger. The other two guys did all the "hunting". When he got to shoot the bull was frozen, broadside, and very close. Granted with nerves he could have still missed but it doesn't get any easier than that.

I just would not enjoy that. I also don't have the big bucks needed to mount a big head and rack nor any place to hang it in my house.

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