Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Our Choice

Who's going to shoot the big one this year? We all think to ourselves under our own breath, I sure hope its me. Lets turn this hope into reality. As outdoorsmen we have choices. It will take time, discipline, and patients. I love the land in which I live and see huge potential in it. Great things happen when people work together, and I believe in my fellow outdoorsmen. The outcome of our decisions reflect and dictate our success and future.

The Minnesota archery season is well on its way. Year after year I put hours upon hours in a tree and watch as these small bucks with huge potential pass by. Thoughts of how they would look in 3 years flood my mind followed by a slight head shake. I am not perfect in my passing of deer by any means, but as I mature so do my standards. I wish I would have started long before I did. One of the very top traits a person needs to learn, especially in the hunting category, is self discipline. After hunting your butt off with little success you have a 1 1/2 year old eight standing broadside. It can be very hard to pass up this opportunity. You need to stop and ask yourself, will I be 100% happy with this deer? No one needs another small rack being kicked around on the garage floor. You can come up with reasons to justify taking this deer yes, but will you be totally happy with him? Remove yourself from the moment and be honest with yourself. Chances are, you wouldn't be. For some maybe you would and if that's the case, shoot. Any animal taken on their home turf is a trophy in my eyes and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Every deer we shoot doesn't have to be a monster, no, but I believe, most of us, would really like to start seeing more of a higher age class on the deer where we hunt.

Minnesota is a melting pot for habitat. Look at the surrounding states and what's going on with them. The Dakotas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Canada. All well know for the established age class of whitetails. All the habitat from these states comes together in Minnesota. So why the small bucks here? These other lands are managed so well not only by the law but by the landowners and more so, by the hunters. They have seen the results and want to preserve them. If the law and the people who make them are not willing to sacrifice and implement stiffer management on young deer, we can. As outdoorsmen, we have choices. We don't need them to dictate what we shoot. We can do it ourselves. When we have spent our hard earned dollars on that tag in our pockets it gives us the right of choice. The choice to take, legally, the deer we want to take.

I've been in some of these other states and the attitudes are promising. Even the young people learn these standards at a young age. Let the small ones walk. This gives me hope for my own homeland. People are people and we are those people. If I didn't believe we could do this I wouldn't be writing about it. We can. I say that with confidence. Imagine the amount of enthusiasm and motivation you would hunt with knowing you have a super chance at wackin' a big boy more than you ever have. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a long term plan pay off and pay off it will.

There are so many justifications I hear and at one time have said myself. This is the most common one, I believe. If I don't shoot him my neighbors will. Lets break that one down. Yes, this may be so, but if you take the deer he has a zero chance at making it. If you pass him, at least he has some chance. Boom! You just did it. You just gave that deer more of a chance than he normally would have. If everyone did that I could only imagine how many shows Minnesota would be on. Shooting a deer just because someone else "might" doesn't sound like a reason to becoming happy with your harvest. Say this deer does get shot from the next guy, take pride in your growth and doing your part and continue to do so. Hard work is always rewarded, in one way or another. One person can make a difference. Each and every one of us is only one person. So, in all reality, one person makes up all of us. Yes, it will take time, but if we can make this a mindset and a standard to follow, in time, I assure you, results will be seen.

By no means am I saying to be perfect right off the bat. Nor am I saying to never slip up, but instead, just make it an effort to at least think of my words. Minnesota is a special piece of the world and we can make it even better on our own by our decisions. For the most part, I believe it's something we all would like to see happen. So lets start! We don't need anyone to make the decisions for us. We can use our right of choice to our benefit and make this land and the animals that inhabit it, what it and they deserve to be. So this fall, please, lets work together and let'em walk.