Category Archives: Gun Hunting

My Formula For Not Keeping Score

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The question is better than the answer I told him. My friend had stopped over to the house to take a look at the buck I had harvested earlier that day. That’s a nice buck Greg, he said. What does he score? I haven’t put a tape to him I said, and I’m not sure I ever will.

The buck, a big 9-pointer with a small G5 on his left side that could possible make him a ten, was one of the heaviest racked New York State bucks I had ever killed in my 20-year plus whitetail hunting career.

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I had anchored the buck on the afternoon of Nov. 19 with a Winchester slug fired from my Remington 1100 Special. The encounter happened by chance, as I ascended to my stand for the afternoon hunt and spotted the buck standing in a nearby CRP field. A few shots from the stand and a finishing shot from the ground, and the buck was mine for good.

After admiring my kill, my buddy’s question really got me thinking. How do we as hunters really value our trophies? Is score the end-all, be-all in the whitetail woods? Gosh, I hope not. I’ve never been big on score; in fact I’ve never had any of my deer officially scored. That’s just not me. I hunt mature deer, period.

Why, you ask? My answer is pretty simple really, I feel putting a label/score on a deer diminishes the hunt I had for him. Personally, I like to let the memory of the hunt marinate in my thoughts a while. It’s kind of like placing a back-strap in a bag of spiedie sauce for the weekend. Follow me? You have to let it sink in. To me, slapping a number on a trophy buck too quickly devalues the animal.

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Now having said that, I recognize the fact that The Pope and Young Club and the Boone and Crockett Club set whitetail records based on the score of a buck’s antlers size. My fear however is that in the new-aged world of whitetail hunting with so much emphasis being placed on harvesting trophy deer, the sport of hunting is getting lost in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with and practice Quality Deer Management. I enjoy hunting big bucks and like killing them even more, but does the score of a deer inflate or lessen the worth of the animal or hunter? I say no.

I embrace and cherish the sport of whitetail hunting. I live and breathe whitetails. Anyone who doubts this fact can ask my beautiful wife or taxidermist. I just don’t feel we as hunters should base a trophy on a series of numbers.

What say you?

Cat Tales:

I’d like to give a shout out to my Dad who spent the majority of these past summer months conducting a Timber Stand Improvement Project on our property. Dad and I are committed to growing big deer, but with two young children and a full-time job, much of the grunt work gets left to him. He rarely disappoints. Thanks Dad!

I’d also would like to publicly congratulate my friend and good hunting buddy, John Koska who put the hammer down on this mature 8-pointer while hunting my property December 1st.

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I cannot tell you how many bucks John has passed over the years on our farm looking for the right deer to take. This guy seemed like a fine candidate. Way to go John!

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Season Recap – Antler Discovery

Four antlers, two deer and one lucky hunter. That pretty much sums up my 2011 hunting season. As documented here on AHT I killed a deer dubbed ‘The Ghost Buck’ on Nov. 19 with archery tackle in hand.

'The Ghost Buck' Mount

The only history I had with the deer was a single trail camera photo – or so I thought.

On Nov. 23 I tagged another hit list deer I had dubbed ‘The Shed Buck.’ I had both sets of sheds from the deer from the previous year. I was thrilled with the outcome of my season – one that I deem my best in my nearly quarter century hunting career.

'The Shed Buck' - And The Sheds


The story however got even better in early April when I picked up ‘The Ghost Buck’ from my taxidermist. After securing the buck in the trophy room and admiring him I recalled a set of sheds my then 3-year-old son and I had retrieved the previous year. We had found the sheds just a stone throw away where I arrowed the buck.

The Sheds

I dug through the shed pile and located the antlers in question. I held them up to the mounted animal and was amazed to see that they were a near perfect match. The deer had grown significantly, but carried the same characteristic – sweeping beams with small times, and more of them on his left side. There’s no doubt in my mind that indeed the antlers I found in 2010 are a match set to ‘The Ghost Buck.’ This discovery means I have matching sheds to both bucks I killed in 2011. You can’t ask for a more satisfying feeling in the deer hunting woods.

Proof that passing young deer grows bigger deer.

To say I’m tickled would be an understatement. We’ve put a lot of effort, time and money into growing deer on our properties.

My accomplishments in 2011 are the result of this effort. Taxidermy photos of ‘The Shed Buck’ expected in early May.