Trophy Vs. Meat Hunting: Do You Hunt to Fill the Freezer or the Wall?

trophy_vs_meat_f

Trophy Hunting

Every "meat hunter" is a closet trophy hunter. Many would have you believe otherwise, and some even openly deride the practice of trophy hunting. Yet almost every blessed one of them, when offered a shot at a tender young forkhorn beside an honestly big buck, will shoot the big deer. Durned hypocrites.

Kidding, folks. Don't get your knickers in a twist. There's nothing at all wrong with maintaining that a young buck is trophy enough for you and fills your freezer to perfection, especially in areas where management practices don't favor bucks' chances to mature. However, trophy hunting, when correctly practiced, is a valuable conservation tool for hunters concerned about the quality of both present hunting and for the future generation of hunters.


Where plenty of mature bucks are present, the biggest, healthiest, strongest males breed the does, favoring future genetics. They more efficiently breed the does and shield them from continual harassment from hordes of horny, inexperienced small bucks, favoring conception and conditioning against the coming winter.


Additionally, mature bucks provide significantly more meat per kill. Many will argue that younger bucks are more tender, but when properly field dressed and aged, meat from mature bucks tastes splendid, chews easily, and the steaks and roasts are up to double the size — allowing you to shoot less game to get the same amount of meat.

So try not to shoot the baby bucks. Extend your time in the field and do the local deer population a favor by holding out for a mature buck. Forkhorns, does, and your freezer will all thank you.

— Joseph von Benedikt



Meat Hunting

I'll be honest: I could argue this topic either way as I am both a meat hunter and a trophy hunter, depending upon species hunted, season, and even time of day. I'm not committed to either camp 100 percent of the time. I'm an opportunistic predator. I think most of us fit into this category.

Sure, we all love to occasionally wrap our hands around the antlers of a wall hanger, and many of us pass up younger deer, but deep down we enjoy filling the freezer with delicious, healthy meat. At its core, the pursuit of meat is the real reason why we hunt. It is why our fathers hunted, and it is why our ancestors crawled out of their caves€¦to feed their families.


Meat hunting is also socially acceptable. Don't believe me? Go tell a non-hunter you hunt for meat. You will find they are often accepting of your passion. Tell that same person you hunt for trophies and you will never get the chance to tell them you pass younger deer or go seasons without pulling the trigger, and when you do tag a trophy, you utilize all the meat (and support the local economy by giving a taxidermist a few hundred bucks to preserve the part of the animal meat hunters throw out).

But forget about being socially accepted and let's talk about pure fun for a moment. I have spent many seasons passing game — more often than not, going home empty-handed. So this past season I decided to hunt purely for meat. Cows, does, small bucks€¦it didn't matter, I was filling the freezer.

And I found out I enjoyed the actual hunt; the appreciation of a clean, ethical shot; the time in camp; and celebrating the experience with family or friends more than I had in years. If those aren't enough reasons to be a meat hunter, I don't know what is.

— Mike Schoby

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 9: Aloha Axis Deer

Host Mike Schoby joins his buddies Jon Dubin and Jeff Johnston on the island of Lanai for a deer hunt Hawaiian style!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

Trending Articles

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field. Ammo

America's Top 10 Big Game Cartridges

Joseph von Benedikt

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field.

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study. Ammo

Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber?

Mike Schoby

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study.

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious marinades. Recipes

8 Best Venison Marinades

Hank Shaw

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

If you're a hunter, the last thing you want to see is someone else's pickup parked in 'your' spot. How-To

Hunting: A Competition Among Sportsmen

Jim Zumbo

If you're a hunter, the last thing you want to see is someone else's pickup parked in 'your'...

Get away from the bench to maximize your shooting skills. How-To

Practice These Shooting Positions to Be a Better Hunter

Craig Boddington

Get away from the bench to maximize your shooting skills.

Don't make field dressing a deer any messier than it has to be; make sure you have all the essentials before you go out this season. How-To

DIY Deer Field Dressing Equipment and Tips

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Don't make field dressing a deer any messier than it has to be; make sure you have all the...

A successful western hunt doesn't begin with elk. You first need to develop some experience as well as skills. North America Big Game

Western Hunting 101

Joseph von Benedikt

A successful western hunt doesn't begin with elk. You first need to develop some experience as...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.