Some hunters are always after the biggest, best, or trophy. This means age, size, and health. As critters get bigger, they get older. This also means tougher meat, more contaminants or disease, and less appetizing food in the freezer.
Years ago, when I was learning how to bow hunt, I wanted my first bow deer to be a buck. Then it had to be a big buck. After passing on hundreds of does and small bucks, I feasted on Tag Soup. My bow buddy told me, “If you want to kill a deer with a bow, you have to learn how to kill a deer with a bow.” He suggested that I tag the next fat and healthy deer that I see.
My first bow deer was a 2–3-year-old doe. He also showed me how to butcher and cook the deer. “You can’t eat Antlers!”
Hunters all evolve and change as hunters. Older hunters have eaten their share of tough and stringy meat. This taught them to feast on meat and not on horns. One of my friends tagged a huge bull elk. When we skinned the massive critter, the meat was blue! We tried everything we could to make that elk taste good. Even the grind was chewy and stringy. No tenderizer, aging, marinate, or technique seemed to work. Big Bulls are tough!
Over the course of a hunting lifetime, you will tag some trophies and other great critters. Enjoy them all. Take what God sends your way. During one of my Western Maryland hunting camps, we all were at our stands before light. The snow was coming down and it was Dammed Cold!
As I scoped the valley of thick rhododendron and laurel, I saw movement. It was a nice buck beelining for the thick cover. He was trying to get out of the weather. This was the only deer I saw, and I took my first, best, shot.
Back at the camp, my feet were propped up by the woodstove. I had a mug of coffee and could look out the window at my buck hanging on the meatpole. Everyone else were afield and on the hunt. They all had great stories of what they saw, but they were looking for a bigger buck or…
Boy, the woodstove sure felt nice!