Skip to main content Skip to main content

To Shoot Or Let Walk

There are certain values that should come with releasing a round

To Shoot Or Let Walk
To Shoot Or Let Walk

It’s pretty much deer season all over the country and the collective B.S. has started.

Deer hunters know what I’m talking about: Every racked buck seen and missed was the biggest ever, every excuse in the book for missing has been laid out, and every tall tale imaginable has been spilled out around a camp fire.

In some ways those are the things that make the season special, the spice that livens a season up. But there are other forms of B.S. that can actually detract from the season.

That list is long and infamous. I was reminded of those things last weekend when a friend shot a 7-point buck on my property. It was a deer that for a growing number of deer hunters they would have passed on. A couple more years of age and it would have been one of those really nice, possibly magnificent animals that would have made a great story around the campfire.

Understand I have a different view on deer hunting than most folks. I am one of those guys who will let a lot of bucks walk in hopes of it growing up and becoming one of those heart-pounding experiences in a future season.

There are a lot of hunters who follow that same pass. Some of them get downright pissy about it. I’m not one of those. I still see deer hunting as a personal experience. The choices you make afield should be ones you are proud to make. When you level your weapon on a deer and take the shot, it should be one that you are proud to make. Not one you make because you want to get the monkey off your back or one you will ultimately feel guilty about.

The 7-pointer I referenced is a fine example of that. In Arkansas, we have a statewide minimum three-point rule, which means an antlered buck has to have at least 3 points on one side of its antlers to be legal. It’s a regulation that has done wonders for the deer herd, but actually done more for the hunters in the state in terms of giving them a better experience in the deer woods.

That said the 7-pointer was a legal deer, one in which if my friend would have been thrilled and excited to kill, I would have been thrilled and excited for him. A deer, any legal deer, that is brought to the cleaning rack should improve your day. If it does that, then the season has been successful.

But here is the rub. This deer sported a main frame six-point rack, with tons of character, bordering on non-typical status that some might call gnarly. Thing is, it was a 1 ½-year-old deer. Yet when the hunter brought it to the cleaning rack, his first response was “it’s a cull buck. Something we probably needed to take out of the herd.”

To that: I call total B.S. In intensively managed lands where there is very little pressure and the manager is trying to achieve something with the herd, then there might actually exist something known as a cull buck.

For most of us, there are not very many examples of cull bucks running around our property. It reminds me of the years before the 3-point rule, when hunters would say, “I killed a big-old spike. Something we probably needed to take out of the herd.”

For the record, it’s my belief there never was such a thing as a “big, old spike.” Maybe a big, young spike that could eventually grow to old age and into a really nice deer. But when one hit the ground, there was a lot of hidden guilt that accompanied the kill.

It’s similar to: “I shot it. I didn’t want to, but if I didn’t someone else was going to.”

The B.S. part comes in the form of making excuses for what you kill, by attaching a stigma to a deer that isn’t right or fair to the animals we chase. Typically natural selection takes care of the “cull deer,” typically age takes care of the spikes.

Understand, I’m not saying that hunter should not have shot that deer. Even though I would never shoot that deer. The issue is when you pull the trigger there are certain values that should come with the releasing of the round. If it’s a deer you want to kill, then there are no excuses or feeling of quilt. You should be happy or thrilled.

If those feelings are not there, then you are missing the best part of hunting.

Go to 2013 Deer Camp

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos


NuCanoe's New-for-2021 Unlimited Fishing Kayak

A bow-to-stern look at NuCanoe's Unlimited with NuCanoe's Ray Martinez and OSG's John Deshauteurs at ICAST 2021 in Orlando.

The Modern Air Rifle: Air Archery with the Umarex AirSaber

The Modern Air Rifle: Air Archery with the Umarex AirSaber

The big brother to the AirJavelin, the Umarex AirSaber uses high-pressure air to zip a 350-grain arrow at velocities up to 480 feet per second. That's more than enough to hunt big game or predators and it's accurate out to 70 yards. So, if you're looking for a tool to have fun with and/or hunt with, check out the Umarex AirSaber.

Beyond the Bait: Are Bladed Jigs Good Baits for Catching Smallmouth?

Beyond the Bait: Are Bladed Jigs Good Baits for Catching Smallmouth?

Bladed jigs are one of the hottest trends in bass fishing right now, but what makes them so effective? In this episode of Beyond the Bait, we'll answer that question especially as it relates to smallmouths and go over some tactics that will result in more hookups.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now