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What's Your Trophy?

Updated: Jan 14, 2022


More often than you'd think, we have conversations amongst ourselves, Kevin Kossowan, Jeff Senger and me, on what animals to harvest and why. For example, do I wait to harvest a mature buck with my general tag? The obvious answer is "yes" to most people. And having spent most of my hunting career focused expressly on trophy whitetail buck and big boar Black Bears, it is hard to disagree with the allure of being close to big animals. Those specimens are a special challenge, and my heart beats especially hard when I have those chances. But, here's the thing, an (almost) equally great challenge is to harvest the best possible table outcome. A yearling fawn, a calf moose. The opportunities to shoot at the smallest, most tender and tasty animals present themselves at about the same rate as trophy animals for me and my hunting style. Should my heart beat fast then? What will people say about my choice to harvest such an animal. Do I care what they say? Despite what should be the case, these things play out in my mind. I realize completely that they shouldn't...but they do. Less and less as I get older thank goodness, but it's still there, in the background. What will you think of me if I harvest a fawn whitetail?


"What about the reason that we hunt, or at least the reason why we should be hunting...the wild food. Is that a trophy?"


There's the people that will admonish a hunter for taking a fawn, simply because it is young. And I get that sentimentality actually. But the fact of nature is that it is the young who are most vulnerable, the most predated upon. From a conservation standpoint, it is more sustainable to harvest the young deer from a herd. Nature compensates, and the next season, more twins are born. I would imagine that to harvest only mature, and especially "trophy" animals, from a herd would significantly weaken the genetic structure of the entire herd. The animals that have survived to maturity are the individuals who have the strongest ability to survive what nature throws their way. They are the ones who should be left to pass along those genetics.

And what about table fare? What about the reason that we hunt, or at least the reason why we should be hunting...the wild food. Is that a trophy? Kevin and I were talking about that just this morning. I have photos of food; Kevin prepping a confit'd buck neck, 50 yards from where it was harvested a month earlier. I can remember the experience of helping with the harvesting of that animal. I remember the smells, sights and sounds of the entire event. There isn't a rack on my wall, just a picture of a memorable meal. The same goes for pictures I have of a fish in a fry pan over a campfire. A great meal, and complete memories of that same fish taking my hand-tied caddis dry fly and the subsequent fight. The colour of the light in the canyon, the cold shock of the water as I grabbed that fish from the net to dispatch it quickly. Trophies.