I have a couple of friends who live in a couple of the country’s top areas for trophy whitetails. I chat with these guys quite often over the phone, and though the topic of our conversations rarely begins with deer hunting, it usually ends there. Somehow, big bucks always seem to work their way into the chatter.
Over the last few months, my friend Mark has been telling me about this one huge buck he’s been hunting. He figures it would score about 170 Boone and Crockett points. Just yesterday, he was telling me about another monster recently taken in his area that grossed over 200. Like me, Mark did not get his buck this year. But there’s a considerable difference: He passed up several that I not only would have shot but probably considered putting on my wall.
It’s the same way with my friend Scott. He kills what I would regard as a freakishly enormous buck just about every year. And when he doesn’t, it’s usually because he passed up several deer that I would consider only very, very big.
Anyway, whenever I talk to these guys, I’m always struck by the disparity between what they consider to be a big buck and what I consider to be a big buck. When they talk numbers, they’re usually talking in the 140 range and up. I, on the other hand, can’t imagine seeing a buck of that size in the woods. It would be akin to watching Bigfoot waltz under my stand. I wouldn’t know whether to wet my pants or wind my watch, let alone shoot.
A guy at my friend’s Adirondack deer camp shot the biggest buck I have ever seen outside the pages of a book or magazine. To my eyes, and to all the guys up there, this buck was a freak of nature, the deer of a lifetime, beyond huge. But in fact, even if it had been taken with a bow, it would not have made the Pope and Young record book.
The second biggest buck I’ve seen other than in a book or magazine is still, by my standards, a buck of lifetime. And though I can’t actually speak for them, I imagine Mark and Scott would have considered passing this buck up.
All of this boils down to this question: How big is big? I imagine that Scott’s and Mark’s idea of big is probably skewed by what’s available to them where they live. Big, to them, is probably enormous to most of us. By the same token, my idea of what’s big is likewise skewed in the opposite direction. Big to me might not be so big to many hunters.
So, in an attempt to get some idea of the average, I ask you: What do you consider to be a big buck? Of course, there are other factors that can make a given animal a buck of a lifetime, but considering only rack size for the sake of discussion, what would be a buck of lifetime for you, at minimum? To take it even further, what do you consider a shooter buck? Do you pass up any bucks, and if so, where do you draw the line?
I’d like to hear from you. You can send your responses, including your name and hometown, to firstname.lastname@example.org.