Defining Trophies

It seems like more and more these days I keep seeing these debates on social media on how we should harvest animals.  One side screams let the smaller ones walk and harvest mature animals while the other side says they like to provide food for their family.  If we set back and look at this debate with an unbiased opinion both sides are correct in their own way.  What makes this situation bad at times is when one side is so strong in their belief they not willing to consider the others.  This is a recipe for disaster and quite frankly is the last thing we need in the hunting community.  Most of the time the end result is a lot of hard feelings and in some severe cases it has even ended friendships which it terribly unfortunate.

Let's face it, every hunter regardless of the reason they are hunting dreams of seeing a true world class legend of an animal walk into their sights.  However, this is not going to happen to the vast majority of us.  When you set back and look at the hunting community as a whole, most of us work 40 to 60 hours a week.  Then when you throw in family functions such as kids playing sports and other community events it leaves us with just a few hours to hunt each weekend.  When you add all of this together most hunters are going to be satisfied with whatever they can get.  After juggling their busy schedules, just the time setting in a tree stand is a trophy in itself.

If you look up the term "trophy" in the Webster's Dictionary it gives you a couple of definitions.  One definition says that it is something gained or given in victory or conquest.  Another is a game animal or fish suitable for mounting as a trophy.  It also states that it is something that is prized for qualities that enhance prestige or social status.  Out of all of those definitions not once did it mention age of the animal, size or how full your freezer is.  The definitions are worded in a way that would allow anything to be considered a trophy.  How a trophy gains prestige is the amount of effort that was put forth by the hunter to get the trophy. 

When a hunter is so proud of an animal that they share it on social media in my eyes they are defining it a trophy.  It is unfortunate when the hunter and animal is judged solely on what others see in the picture.  What that picture doesn't show is maybe that hunter had some financial issues and had to sell their bow and that animal was taken with a bow they borrowed.  Or they have a loved one in the hospital and found a little time to spend in the woods to clear their minds and had some success.  They also could have been working a lot of hours at work and was not sure if they were going to get any time at all to hunt.  Whatever the case may be these types of challenges that the hunter has to overcome just increases the value of their trophy.  That is why it is not up to a hunter to define what a trophy should be for another hunter.

A true hunter will consider other hunters and should respect how they choose to spend their time in the woods and what they define as a trophy.  Remember, a trophy is not defined by its size.  Instead a trophy is the value in which the sportsman places on it through their efforts, ethics, pride and most importantly their respect for the land and the animal they harvested.  Happy hunting and good luck on your next trophy!


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