Fundamentally we hunt to provide a natural, lean source of protein for ourselves and our families. Of course due to modern amenities hunting is not a requirement of survival any longer but apparently some of us are still programmed with the hunting gene. I bring up the subject of “Antlers Not Required” as a bit of a reminder that we do hunt for the meat and the meat alone. If there was not food involved at the end of a hunt would hunting have ever been created? That’s a pretty deep thought but something to seriously consider. There are tons of other benefits to hunting that I’ll save for another day but the fact of the matter is that if you are hunting you should be eating what you kill. I want to shoot a cagey big racked bruiser as much as the next guy but the success of my season does not ride on that accomplishment. Your freezer should truly be the measure success for any given hunt or season.
With that being said we should not feel ashamed or any less proud of shooting a doe or a cow. I also disagree with a more recent trend of piling up the does as almost a chore rather than an opportunity. If your land or state game populations need managed then please do so but do not lessen the accomplishment and importance of adding life sustaining substance to your cache. This is not an article discussing trophy hunting, whether or not to let young bucks walk, only being a real hunter if you kill an animal with an antler score greater than X, it is merely a gesture to remind you that when you take an animals life, regardless of size or sex, be thankful and appreciative of the gift you have been given and do not judge others by the gifts they were blessed with.
This last season is a prime example for myself. I started the season early with an archery doe to get my meat supply moving in the right direction after depleting the supply from the previous year and followed that up with a cow elk during a DIY backpack hunt. As the year progressed I realized I did not have enough venison to carry my family through the summer months and utilized a late antlerless season to bring everything together. My seasoned revolved around food and because of that my season was everything that I could have hoped for and more. So just remember why most of us are out there and be congratulatory of others and thankful for your kills regardless of size or sex. Oh ya, and be sure to share some of that summer sausage and invite neighbors over when you’re grilling up deer burgers!