Growing Trophies Or Growing Memories?

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis | March 1, 2023

With most debatable topics, I have an opinion, a side that I know I stand on. With this one, I am just not sure. I can argue both sides. As I was going through the annual GON VOTES results, I saw a comment from someone in favor of lowering the Georgia buck limit to one. I certainly agree that there would be more mature bucks in the state.

As I look at my past, I recognize a shift in how I view hunting and what defines success. There was a time when I was all about quality deer management. I was specific to a fault with wanting to let the young bucks walk, and if I heard of a neighbor shooting a nice 2 1/2-year-old 8-point, I would cringe and shake my head at such a “waste” of a fine deer. I would say things like, “If you want meat, then shoot a doe.” I even used protein supplements year-round for several years to grow bigger antlers. 

Now that I have two young sons, I think about what I want them to experience and learn from time in the woods. I am not sure I am concerned anymore about letting a young 8-point walk if one of my boys is looking through the scope. By maintaining the two-buck limit, it allows for more “success” in the deer woods by providing more buck kills and memories. True, there won’t be as many bucks in the state, but what is more important, the number of bucks or the number of happy hunters? Some people may shake their heads at this and say that their happiness depends on the size of the bucks, even if they kill fewer. 

Also, social media has influenced the definition of a “trophy” buck. The bigger the better, right? I’m not sure I buy it now. But everyone in the state can see the size bucks that are killed and posted, and many of these bucks seem to be bigger each year. I think we can get caught up in the “trophy” status rather than the simple joy of the deer harvest. Heck, I even see some people complaining about their bucks being “small” even though it’s a big buck by many people’s standards.

Here is a scenario to make you think about the one-buck limit. You wait nine long months to deer hunt. Opening morning, you see a nice buck working the edge of a thicket, and thinking it is your big buck on camera, you let the hammer down, only to discover that he was not your target buck. Like it or not, you are done for the season (in terms of bucks). Better luck in 12 months, because that is how long you now have to wait to shoot another buck (unless you get selected for a public-land bonus buck).

Having said this, I will admit that I did not shoot a buck this year because they were all too “small” for me. I guess you can call me a trophy hunter, but I do not want to take away from someone else’s good time in the woods just because I want to let certain deer walk. You could also argue here that I didn’t see a buck worth shooting because we have a two-buck limit rather than one, LOL!

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