Tag Archives: Whitetail

The Illinois Whitetail Disaster

By Don Higgins
AHT Guest Commentary

I am blessed to have watched the whitetail herd in my part of Illinois rise from nothing to become the greatest whitetail herd on planet earth. As a kid running the creeks and woods of east-central Illinois we basically had no deer whatsoever. Seeing a deer track was newsworthy and announcing such a discovery was more likely to bring ridicule than belief.

Author Don Higgins with several Illinois giants from years of hunting the Land of Lincoln

Author Don Higgins with several Illinois giants

Then, slowly at first, the deer started to appear. When I shot my first buck back in 1979 I only knew of three men who had taken a deer and two of those were harvested down in southern Illinois.

Back in the early days Illinois was blessed with a couple of cutting edge whitetail biologist who were ahead of their time in their approach to state-wide whitetail management. Forest Loomis and Jack Calhoun micro-managed Illinois growing deer herd county by county utilizing county check stations manned by college students and started a new management approach that other states would soon adopt; either-sex hunting.

Up to this point, states that allowed deer hunting managed their seasons by larger zones or even state-wide and only allowed bucks to be harvested. Loomis and Calhoun put Illinois on the fast-track to whitetail stardom with their hands-on approach to managing Illinois most precious natural resource. These pioneer biologist deserve way more credit and recognition than they have been afforded.

Soon whitetails were at huntable populations in every Illinois county. Not only that but with the management approach of these cutting edge biologists, the state enjoyed a whitetail herd with great age structure and proper sex ratios. By the mid-1980s Illinois was home to a whitetail herd that would please any deer hunter. Monster bucks were present in suitable numbers in every county for those seeking the challenge while a growing population meant plenty of opportunities for the meat hunter as well. Illinois became the destination of choice for whitetail addicts from across the globe.

Then disaster hit. No, it didn’t hit with the force of a tornado that was obvious and clear to see. In fact many didn’t even realize anything happened. But it did. And it was bad. Loomis and Calhoun retired and some time following a new whitetail biologist was hired. Paul Shelton was a waterfowl biologist from Tennessee when IDNR director Brent Manning hired him to come to Illinois and oversee the greatest whitetail herd on earth. Shelton was noted for his “computer models for waterfowl management” and apparently the idea was that he could bring this experience to Illinois and use it on our beloved whitetail herd. The problem is that whitetails are not waterfowl and in the past 20 years Paul Shelton has yet to figure that out.

Today the Illinois deer herd is in serious trouble and Illinois deer hunters are finally seeing it. Most are blaming two straight years of massive deer die-offs from EHD as the culprit. They are only partially right. Today’s deer herd disaster is the result of 2 years of EHD and 20 years of bad management. The quality of Illinois deer herd has been slowly trending downward for some time but the casual deer hunter didn’t see it and most wouldn’t even acknowledge the possibility … until this year.

With a firearms season harvest that was down 25% statewide and archery harvest figures likely to mirror those of the gun seasons, eyes have been opened and voices raised. The thing is, most of those who are finally upset have no idea how bad things really are. The “harvest” may be down roughly 25% since last year but the “herd” is really down more like 70% in some areas. On top of that, if you compare this year’s firearms harvest to that of 2005, it is actually down 40%. If you think the deer hunting was off this year, mark my words, the worst is yet to come.

IDNR biologist Paul Shelton and his cohorts John Buhnerkempe and Tom Micetich are in over their heads and yet have never worked under a DNR director with the guts, motivation, desire or wisdom to rein them in and get them on track. Current director Marc Miller seems to be no different. Team Shelton has destroyed the great deer herd nurtured to life by Loomis and Calhoun, yet I am not sure if that fact is as sad as having a string of IDNR directors without the concern for Illinois deer herd to insist that the management of our deer herd get back on track. I find it frustrating and more than a bit odd that Illinois fish biologists do an awesome job of managing Illinois waters for quality fishing with well-designed regulations such as creel limits and size limits, yet our whitetail biologist manage our deer herd like high-school drop-outs using $1.99 Wal-Mart calculators.

I personally was at a meeting in Decatur a few years back where John Buhnerkempe was telling a group of hunters about the approach they take to manage Illinois deer herd. Buhnerkempe said that they simply look at the herd numbers at the beginning of the season and set a goal of how many of those deer they want to be killed by the end of the hunting season. He went on to explain that they don’t care how those deer are killed or which ones are killed, they just want to get the herd down to a specific number. I’m serious folks, that is Illinois’ whitetail management approach in a nutshell. No regard at all is given to setting regulations that will improve sex-ratios or age structure. Nope, just go out and kill X number of deer. What’s worse is they can’t even do this right as evidenced by this year’s dramatic drop in harvest. They are so slow to react to changes within the deer herd that calling them “reactive” rather than “proactive” is too kind. It takes them years to even address a problem and never really admit that there was a problem to begin with. Again, mark my words, we haven’t seen the worst yet.

This leaves us with the obvious question of “where do we go from here?” Personally I hold out almost no hope that we will ever again see a deer herd of the quality that we once had. I have heard a couple of older hunters note that we still have more deer today than we did in the early 1970s so we can turn things around and have a good deer herd again in a few years. Let me give you three reasons why this won’t happen.

First and foremost we had Loomis and Calhoun in charge in the early 1970s whereas today we have Shelton, Buhnerkempe and Micetich. The former were clearly cutting edge pioneers whereas I have seen absolutely nothing from the latter to hint that they even care about the resource that they are in charge of managing. On top of this IDNR director Marc Miller has shown me nothing to indicate that he will step in and insist that the ship be righted. Strike one.

Secondly we have a lot more deer hunters today than we had during the 1970s. I would venture to guess that we probably have 4 or 5 times as many deer hunters now as compared to then. That represents a lot more pressure on a resource that now needs to be expanded rather than simply maintained at current levels. On top of that we now have a younger generation of deer hunters who do not remember the days when we had so few deer that a hunter would typically go years between deer harvests. Most of today’s deer hunters have always hunted during a period when they could easily kill multiple deer each and every year. It won’t be easy, and will likely be impossible, to get this group to accept a more limited role as true conservationists. Strike two.

Finally, Illinois politics will never allow for the proper management of our whitetail deer herd. Besides the fact that hunters themselves cannot agree on what is best for the herd, we also have to throw in the wishes of groups like insurance companies who want all the deer gone and are willing to fork over the bucks (pun intended) to see that their opinion carries plenty of weight with politicians who make key decisions regarding the management of our deer herd.

Let’s face it, IDNR director Marc Miller is simply in his position because he was appointed to be there by Governor Quinn. It is no secret that Illinois politics is a dirty business and Marc Miller is really nothing more than a puppet whose strings are being pulled by someone else. Strike three.

In a perfect world the management of big game herds is left to qualified professionals. That is what created the Illinois deer herd that was truly the best deer herd on the planet. Loomis and Calhoun loved what they were doing and did so without politics tying their hands. The Shelton gang has clearly demonstrated that not only do they not know what they are doing with regards to deer management; they also don’t seem to care. Illinois politics is simply the final nail in the coffin.

Loomis and Calhoun left us the greatest whitetail herd of any state in the nation as their legacy. Now it’s Shelton and Millers turn to leave theirs. Just as decades later I remember and reminisce about Loomis and Calhoun, so too will others someday do the same with Shelton and Miller. Shelton created this disaster and this is clearly his legacy. IDNR director Marc Miller didn’t create this mess but he clearly came on board in time to turn it around. He didn’t. Instead he went along with status-quo and the wheels came completely off the bus under his watch. Shelton won’t do anything to right the ship, I am certain of this.

From what I have seen from Miller, I don’t really expect him to do anything significant enough to make a real difference either. Mark my words, we haven’t seen the worst. I just hope that 30 or 40 years from now someone remembers the names Shelton, Micetich and Buhnerkempe as the ones who destroyed the world’s greatest whitetail deer herd just as clearly as I remember Loomis and Calhoun as the ones who created it.

About the Author
Don Higgins is a freelance outdoor writer from Shelby County, Illinois who has had articles published in just about every major outdoor magazine. Don has also authored 2 books on hunting whitetails and operates Higgins Outdoors, a multi-faceted company specializing in wildlife habitat consultation and creation. He can be reached through his website – www.higginsoutdoors.com

DonsBookCoverScreen shot 2014-01-02 at 8.46.11 PM

Never How You Want to Find Them

As I found him.

Where I found him

My fears had come true. It was May 11, 2013 and I was out chasing spring gobblers in Upstate New York when I stumbled upon him. It was the end of the mystery – I now knew what had happened to this buck 8 months prior.

It’s something we as hunters never want discover, but unfortunately we do from time to time. Finding a dead rotten buck is never a pleasant sight, especially when it’s a deer you recognize. It’s a theme that many deer hunters experience, we focus in on a particular buck only to have the animal disappear for one reason or another. Such was the case here.

I had captured several trailcamera photos of this buck back in mid-September. They weren’t the best quality images, but I saw enough of the deer’s antlers to interest me. I knew the buck was a definite up-and-comer and I looked forward to monitoring his progress and finding him back the following season.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

The 2012 hunting season came and ended without a single sighting of this buck.

The next time I would lay yes on him would be that warm May morning. The buck lay dead nearly a mile from where my Bushnell Trophy Cam had captured those images of him back in September.

It’s always a bitter-sweet moment when you discover an animal like this. On one hand you’re relieved that you know what happened to him and on the other; you’re disappointed and saddened that he’s gone and won’t be around for the upcoming season. And then there’s always the question of how the animal died.

G5 T3 - Illegal in NYS.

G5 T3 – Pokes out from bone.

I began inspecting the 8-pointer for clues as to what may have lead to his death, and there in pain sight was the answer. A G5 T3 Broadhead was wedged in to the buck’s right shoulder blade. The finding left little doubt that the deer had been shot by a fellow archer and never recovered – most likely because the arrow never penetrated the deer’s vitals.

This story would end here if I lived in Texas or Illinois, but I don’t. I reside and hunt in New York State. I tell you that to tell you this: G5’s T3 Broadheads are illegal for hunting purposes in NYS.

A quick check of the NYS Department of Conservation’s website will tell you that ANY barbed broadhead is illegal. Period.

Image if T3 - illegal in NYS.

Image of G5 T3 – illegal in NYS.

Here’s how the DEC defines a barbed broadhead: “A barbed Broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees.”

Clearly the T3 fits this description.

I’m unsure of who shot the buck – and to be honest, I don’t really care, but may I suggest that he or she pay a visit to http://www.dec.ny.gov prior to heading out to the local pro shop to stock up on next season’s broadheads.

As for the buck, I salvaged his head and plan to do a european mount on him.

It’s a shame really, but at least I now have answers to my questions.

Mystery solved.

AHT “Shoot 25” Archery Training Program

It was a shot I took with the same confidence as a two-foot par putt – that’s the only reason I let that arrow fly. The 46-yard shot ended up true to its mark and helped me arrow my biggest buck to date.

Never before has archery equipment provided such capabilities to effectively shoot big game animals at distances once scowled upon by archery purists. And the only way to become more proficient at shooting those distances is to practice until your comfortable with them.

I wanted to create a way to practice, and track my progress, at shooting shots longer than normal. Headed into this year’s hunting season, I wanted to feel comfortable shooting well beyond my normal “comfort zone.”

I feel confident in that being the case before September 15 rolls around.

After a few modications, it’s my pleasure to share with you AHuntersTales.com Shoot 25 archery training program. The video blog entry will help explain the program too (nevermind the bald guy shooting so poorly).

The 25-shot program is simple. You shoot five arrows at 60 yards and measure the total number of inches away from the target you’re aiming at (for all five arrows).

[AHT Shoot 25 Program Scoring Sheet]

Then, you shoot five arrows at 50 yards and measure again. Next, shoot your five arrows at 40 yards, etc. You end up following the routine at 30 yards and 20 yards for a total of 25 arrows.

The downloadable scoring sheet shows how you take each of the cumulative inches away you are at each 10-yard increment, and multiply it by the respective number on the sheet (x1 at 60, x2 at 50, x3 at 40, x4 at 30 and x5 at 20).

Simply put, the program is much easier to shoot than it is to explain!

The primary goal of the program is to have fun, but it’s also designed to track progress over the time you shoot the program. My goal is to shoot it a minimum of three times a week over the next three months. Ultimately, I’d like to feel extremely comfortable shooting distances out to 60 yards.

Give it a try – and let us know how you’re progressing.

‘The Shed Buck’

'The Shed Buck' & His Sheds.

by AHT Contributor Greg Johnston

It’ll go down as one of the more memorable hunts in my hunting career, and certainly one of my most coveted accomplishments. ‘The Shed Buck,’ roams no more. He now rests in peace on my wall!

This, like many other hunting stories, started with a single trail camera photo. At the end of the 2010 hunting season, I placed my cameras back out into the field to take inventory of what deer had survived the New York hunting season(s). I was pleasantly surprised when a 2.5-year-old 9-pointer made a cameo in front of my Moultrie.

I knew who this deer was and, in fact, had watched him all through the summer months in a bachelor group with several other bucks. The odd part was that I’d never encountered him through the entire 2010 season and, to be honest, had forgotten about him by season’s end. Never the less, he was alive and that was a good thing.

'The Shed Buck' appears.

I closely monitored the one camera the buck seemed to frequent most. The plan was to try and capture as many photos of the deer as possible [I captured dozens] and, if at all possible, recover both of his sheds. It worked perfectly as on Feb. 6th the deer arrived sporting only the left side of his rack. That meant the right side wouldn’t be far from the camera location. Even better, I captured another photo shortly after which showed the buck had dropped his left side, too. I was very confident I would recover both of his sheds and begin building a history with this deer.

The buck appears with his left antler only.

I made several attempts at recovering the antlers, but the deep snow made it a difficult task – especially with my then 3-year-old son firmly placed on my shoulders. My luck changed as the snow began to melt in late March. I was able to recover both sheds approximately 20-yards apart. I was thrilled.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011 as I glassed my normal honey holes in search of this one specific deer I’d dubbed, ‘The Shed Buck.’ Try as I did, though, I never located the deer through the entire summer. I began to wonder if the deer had been hit by a car or if he had just moved out of the area as many younger bucks do. On Oct. 23rd I was given a glimmer of hope when I grunted in a handsome 8-pointer to within 30 yards. The deer locked up and presented me with a bad shot angle. I elected not to take the shot, but I began to wonder if I had just laid eyes on ‘The Shed Buck?’

I had a similar experience with the deer in early November as he chased a doe in from behind me but, as I reached for my bow, he caught movement and walked off in the opposite direction. I was sick. I noticed that night, though, that the buck had a fairly significant injury to his right leg. He walked – or hobbled – very slowly.

I hung several new stands in the following days hoping to get a crack at this big 8-pointer with archery tackle. Things changed on Nov. 18th when I harvested another one of my Hit List deer. This meant I’d have to wait until shotgun season to try and kill the big 8. In New York, hunters are allotted one antlered deer for archery season and then another antlered deer for the firearms season.

The first opportunity I had to hunt the area was on the afternoon of Nov. 23rd. It was unseasonably warm and a touch windy, but I headed out to one of the new stand locations I had recently hung. I climbed the stand only to discover I had forgotten my safety strap in a tree from the previous days hunt. I made the decision to climb down and hunt from the ground. I quickly formulated a ‘Plan B’ and began to maneuver myself about 100 yards to the south where I would have a good view of a natural travel corridor. It was the best I could do, given the circumstances.

As I walked down a mowed path on my way to the travel corridor, I glanced to my right and saw my number one Hit List buck appear out of nowhere. There he stood at 100 yards looking at me through the thick goldenrod. I raised my Remington 1100 .20 ga., centered the cross hairs and let a Winchester fly. The deer whirled at the sound of the shot and began to move in a northerly direction.

I took off running hoping to get a glimpse and another shot off at the buck, but when I got to where he should have been, I couldn’t find him. I figured one of two things had happened – either I killed him and he was lying dead, or he never exited the goldenrod field because of that bum leg. I slowly climbed onto a nearby dirt mound to get a better view where I saw the buck standing a mere 20 yards from me. Another shot from the 1100 anchored the buck for good. As it turned out, I never hit the deer on the first shot. His injured leg just prevented him from running too far.

A perfect match.

Only one question remained unanswered now and that was, was this indeed ‘The Shed Buck?’ I went back home to retrieve my 4-year-old hunting buddy, the sheds and the tractor. A quick comparison of the sheds to the deer left no doubt, that I had indeed, just killed ‘The Shed Buck.’ I couldn’t believe it came together the way it did.

Looking back, I think this was just one of those hunts that was meant to be. Earlier in the day I had contemplated hunting another property, but decided against it. You take that, coupled with the fact that I forgot my safety belt, and the deer’s injured leg slowed him down enough, which allowed me to get a second shot off.

The deer has a 19" spread with 8" G2's.

There is no more gratifying feeling for a whitetail hunter than to establish a history with a particular buck and then successfully kill him. It was one heck of a week in the deer woods for me, killing two of my Hit List bucks in six days – one with a bow and one with a gun.

AHT 8 Questions: Matt Arey

Matt Arey has been flipping and pitching lures on the waters of North Carolina for over two decades. He started doing it professionally around the country nine years ago.

Arey at an FLW Major Tour weigh-in

Arey, 30, is a professional on the FLW Majors Tour where he’s averaged nearly $35,000 in sanctioned earnings each year since 2006. AHuntersTales connected with the Shelby, N.C., native recently to chat about the outdoors as part of an AHT 8. For him, that’s more than just fishing. Like a lot of professional anglers we talk with, hunting is as much of a passion for Arey as fishing. When he’s not fishing, he co-owns a guide service called Rack and Reel Outfitters.

1) Ok, truth be told … do you like fishing or hunting better? Why?
My favorite would have to be hunting, hands down. First of all, fishing has been my full time job during the past five years; hunting is a way for me to relax and enjoy God’s creation, while also giving me a break from life on the road. I bow hunt almost exclusively now and enjoy seeing wildlife up close and personal in their natural state. I am amazed at the sights and sounds that a person can witness from a deer stand or duck blind. If I could figure out a way to make a living hunting, I would be happy to make that transition.

2) What gets you excited about the future of the outdoors?
Hunting and fishing conservation improvements over the last few years with extremely active groups definitely excite me. For example, groups such as Ducks Unlimited and FishAmerica Foundation are always working hard to enhance duck and fish populations while restoring habitat and improving water quality.

Arey with a Kentucky bruiser

Something else that excites me, especially on the fishing side of things, are the new tackle, electronic, and equipment innovations over the last few years. Innovative products such as the Evinrude E-TEC outboard and StructureScan have taken bass fishing to a whole new level. One of the main reasons I run the Evinrude E-TEC is because of its low emissions. I am eager I to see what other amazing products these companies have in store for consumers.

3) What’s your fishing “must have”? How about when you’re hunting?
The two things I must have when I am on the water are my Evinrude E-TEC and my Costa Del Mar sunglasses. The success of my career is largely dependent on the reliability of my equipment, and I surround myself with the best products available.

Since I love to bow hunt, the number one piece of equipment for me in the woods is my range finder.

4) What is your first memory in the outdoors?
One of my very first memories in the outdoors is going on my first deer hunting trip down in Council, N.C. with my dad at the age of 9. We were deer hunting with dogs, and there was a small doe that was chased out of the brush toward our location. I shot twice with my youth 20 gauge pump that dad had given to me right before the hunt and missed. The club we were hunting with would hold a “trial” for those hunters who were rumored to have missed a deer during the hunt that day.

If you were indeed “found guilty” of missing a deer, they would punish you by cutting off a piece of your shirttail and then hanging it on a line that was full of shirttails from over the years (as a joke of course). Well, long story short, part of my shirt became a victim and joined the rest of the bad shots that hung on the line, and as far as I know, it is still hanging there to this day.

5) You guide fishing and hunting too, right? What’s your favorite memory that includes someone else in the lead role with you guiding?
This probably involves a young boy and his father on a trip I took to Lake Wylie (near Charlotte) one day. Neither one of them had ever caught a bass over 3 lbs. The very first thing that morning they had doubles on, and both fish ended up surpassing (in weight) their personal records. I have taken quite a few trips with father-son duos and I have never seen as big a grin as the ones that came across their faces when both of those fish came into the boat that day.

6) We hear from people all the time that want to “make a living” in the outdoors. What is your advice to them?
My advice would be to take it slow and keep an open mind. If your goal is competitive fishing, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start out fishing local events to gain experience and see how you stack up and go from there. Whether I am guiding or fishing a Tour event, there is always room to learn more. Always remember that every day in the woods or on the water is a learning experience no matter how knowledgeable you think you are.

7) Every pro angler has a morning launch story that involves getting to a spot they wanted. Tell us your favorite!
At the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake, my wife surprised me for my 30th birthday, by flying to Arkansas and showing up to weigh-in. To top off the surprise, I was fortunate to have a good two days of fishing and make the top 20 cut. After day 3, I was sitting in third place and eager to start the final day of fishing.

I arrived to my first spot, went to get a couple of jerk bait rods out of my rod box and panic immediately set in. It was locked! I keep my truck and compartment keys on the same key ring, so normally my truck keys are always in the boat. My wife helped me launch the boat that morning and took my truck with her so she would not be without a vehicle at the tournament. She was headed to Rogers for the day and I knew I could not call her.

I debated on what to do and was hesitant to pry open the box, for fear of damaging my boat. After weighing my options and thinking about the opportunity to win $125,000, my mind was made up. Using a flat-head screwdriver and a lot of elbow grease, I was able to break the box open, while ripping through the gel coat and throwing fiberglass everywhere. It was instant relief to finally pull a rod out, but I was angry at myself for such a bone head move on such an important day.

8) Do you need an AHT deal for your boat? How about your truck?
As most pro anglers would tell you, sponsorship opportunities are few and far between, and my ears are always open. This doesn’t mean I have to put a picture of Kurt’s Tail on my truck or boat does it? … Oh wait, this is T-a-l-e-s, not Tails!

It was great to talk to you Kurt, Happy Hunting! Now it is off to Kentucky for me to chase some Christian County whitetails.

Thanks for the time, Matt. We look forward to seeing how you’re doing on the FLW Tour for many years to come. And keep us posted on your success in the woods. You’re welcome to share stories for the AHT readers anytime!

Action on the Increase in WNY

AHT Contributor, Greg Johnston Reports From the Stand:

The action is heating up here in Western New York.  I hunted Livingston and Ontario Counties this Saturday and Sunday where I encountered some decent action – including one of my Hit List deer.

Two does work past my stand.

Deer movement is on the increase and this week’s cold snap shouldn’t hurt things.  I hunted our Livingston County Farm on Saturday where I encountered over a dozen deer, including one decent buck that I wasn’t able to get a good look at.

Sunday was warmer and sunny, but I hopped in the stand anyway for an afternoon hunt.  I didn’t have high hopes, but movement was swift throughout the afternoon.  I was able to grunt in one of the bucks on my Hit List, but he locked up at 30 yards, behind a blow down.  With a bad angle and a tree in my way I had to watch him walk.

If it hadn’t been for that tree, I’m guessing this entry would have had a different headline and topic, but hey, that’s why we hunt.  It’s worth noting that I also encountered a 1.5 buck who was clearly in the seeking mode.

I’d say it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing those older more mature bucks on their feet and cruising during daylight hours.  So, if you’ve got the time, I’d suggest you plant your rear in the seat of a stand somewhere.  The clock is ticking…

Be sure to check back weekly as I continue to chronicle my season and monitor deer movement here in the Northeast.

Greg Johnston


Maurer Buck Coverage Nets Wall Hanger Response

With my roots running deep through the rolling hills of Western New York, I always pay attention when I hear about big bucks killed in that area. Those that have a great story or stand taller than most are often chronicled right here for my readers.

Jake Maurer, 17, of Bergen, N.Y., holding his opening day trophy (image borrowed from The Batavian)

But I’m sharing the next one for a couple reasons. First, the beautiful buck killed by Jake Maurer, of Bergen, is very impressive. The 17-pointer by a 17-year old is one that will surely go down in the annals of Western New York history as an elite deer – not only in the 2011 season, but of all time.

But I’m also sharing it because of the way The Batavian editor Howard Owens handled a couple posts that were critical to his online community news site for posting a picture of “a murdered animal.” Simply put, well done Mr. Owens!

Let’s chat about the deer first. The young Maurer’s dad, Jeff, provided the following to The Batavian about his son’s quest.

“My 17-year-old son, Jake Hunter Maurer, took this 17 pointer on opening day of this year’s archery season, Saturday October 15, 2011.
He was hunting alone on the evening of the first day of this year’s bow season and though the weather was not ideal, a little windy and cool, this buck meandered through and was the only deer that he saw that afternoon. It presented a 20-yard shot and Jake was able to make it a successful one.

He found his arrow and returned home for an hour then went back out with his friend and father to track it. It had only traveled about 80 yards where they found out just how big he really was. With 17 scoreable points, it may have to be recorded as a non-typical due to the abnormal points on the antlers. But it appears to be big enough for the NYS record book, whether it is recorded as a typical or non-typical.

Jake photographed this same buck with a trail camera a few weeks before season and figured out his travel habits between his bedding area and feeding areas. He found a tree to put a stand in and went there the first day even though other hunters may have stayed out of the woods due to the high winds and cold rain. We took it to a local taxidermist to be mounted and look forward to several meals from all the meat as it weighed about 200 pounds.”

Awesome deer, Jake. Congratulations.

Now onto the second topic. As I scrolled through the feedback (it should be noted that the story was shared by contributing writer Greg Johnston), I was interested to see how the online site would handle the criticism posted in the very first post. In reading Mr. Owens’ reply, I almost stood to applaud! First, I am pleased that he did respond to the feedback. Not every editor, online or not, would choose to respond to the unfortunate response by a reader with zero open mind.

I opted to post the entire response, as I thought it was both well written and provided in great detail why the reader could expect more photos of dead deer in the future on The Batavian.

“Two years ago, we published a photo of somebody’s trophy, and there was a complaint. Last year, we published a photo of somebody’s trophy, and somebody complained. This year, we publish a photo, and get complaints. And next year, when we publish a similar photo, we’ll probably get complaints. And the year after that and the year after that and the year after that.

This is a hunting county. We will provide coverage of hunting news as it’s available. Most people like it.
Part of living in a diverse society is you sometimes get exposed to stuff you don’t like. Not everybody is going to be happy with everything we publish, but once I start trying to please everybody, then everybody is going to complain about how boring The Batavian is.

First, no dead deer pictures, then no arrest reports, and then no sports coverage because you covered that team and not this team, and then no political coverage because some people find politics upsetting, and then no city council coverage because they’re just politicians, and then no court coverage because that’s a private matter, and then no new business openings because that just gives people a sense of false hope, and then no barn photos because not everybody likes barns, etc. and etc. and etc.

There’s always somebody who doesn’t like something, but so long as most people seem to like the coverage we provide, we’ll do our best to provide coverage of a diverse and broad range of topics in Genesee County, including hunting, which will invariably include trophy shots.”

Awesome response, Mr. Owens. Congratulations.