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

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt. Whitetail

Field Skills: Closing the Deer Deal

Mark Chesnut - December 24, 2019

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt.

It's not over after the deer rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead. Whitetail

Make Late Season the Great Season

Mark Chesnut

It's not over after the deer rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead.

Amid CWD concerns, the evolving regulation of attractants may change the way you hunt. Whitetail

Deer-Urine Bans: The New Normal?

Carolee Anita Boyles - March 27, 2020

Amid CWD concerns, the evolving regulation of attractants may change the way you hunt.

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground. Whitetail

The Shakes: When a 6-Pointer Becomes a 3-Pointer

Jeff Johnston - March 12, 2020

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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