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Thread: Different Facets of Trophy Hunting By Pat Wray.

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    Default Different Facets of Trophy Hunting By Pat Wray.

    Not Long ago, a friend happened to notice elk antlers hanging from a wall in my family room.
    "I'm a little suprised at you" He said, "I've read several articles you've written about how bad trophy hunting is and here you have a trophy on your wall"
    I thought seriously about his statement and decided he had made a couple of mistakes. First, he confused the concept of trophy hunting with having a personal trophy. It is accurate to say that I oppose the selective killing of the best and biggest animals of a species. I believe it imposes a reverse darwinian selection of the least fit, in which the lesser animals are left alive to breed and pass along their genes. Over time, one obvious result will be smaller, less capable animals.
    A look at the record books bears out this theory; with occasional exceptions, the largest animals of the back country have been taken in decades past. Whitetails, which are far more likely to benefit from human agriculture, and are often scientifically fed for maximum antler and body growth, haven't necessarily followed the same downward trend. But the whitetail situation reflects maximum human interference, a question for another time.
    Targeting the biggest males does more than simple remove the best genes form the population; it also has a negative impact on overall health health. Consider elk activity during the rut. A mature bull is ready to breed weeks earlier than younger bulls. The cows he breeds will become pregnant earlier and give birth earlier than those cows bred by younger bulls. As a result, the big bull's progeny will enjoy better nutrition for a longer time before they must endure their fist winter. Their rate of survival will be higher and they will come out of the winter stronger. His male offspring have a better chance of becoming dominant bulls. Females will be more likely to give birth to healthy youngsters.
    Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Problems associated with delayed breeding and birth continue through succeeding generations. When most breeding is done by young bulls, the problems compound themselves over time.
    But as I am against the killing of a big, mature animal when the opportunity presents? Absolutely not. When hunters target all legan animals, as opposed to only the largest, mature males, the harvest will contain a reasonable percentage of massive animals, but not so many as to endanger herd health.
    I kill a large elk or deer when I get a chance, but I don't focus on them to the exclusion of other, lesser animals. In general, I kill the first legal animal I see. Occasionally, that animal is very good, as was the case with the bull elk whose antlers my friend noticed. More often than not, it is mediocre. Fortunately, mediocre animals tend to be more tender and taste better than the big fellas.
    My concerns with trophy hunting are not just biological, but social. When hunters begin to think of game animals in terms of their record book scores, a critical element in the equation is lost. Our heritage as hunter-gatherers becomes a step further removed. The relationship between hunter and hunted changes from that of a predator-prey to something more akin to shooter-prize. When I hear a man say he killed "a 360 bull" I know his measure of success is made with a tape measure and not with his heart.
    The second mistake my friend made was adopting the technique of some political pundits of taking a complex issue and treating it as though it were very simple. Any discussion of trophy hunting must encompass the concepts of legality, morality and ethics, all of which can be murky and unclear.
    For instance, more and more ranchers are providing the opportunity to shoot large and essentially domestic elk and deer within small, fenced enclosures.
    Legal? In many cases, yes. Ethical? Questionable at best. But then, ethics are personal after all, so in lieu of a widespread ethical standard, the hunting community has adopted rules set forth by the Boone and Crockett Club and its archery equipment, the Pope and Young Club. Those entities establish guidelines for the inclusion of animals in their listings and they specifically exclude animals taken from small, fenced enclosures.
    But does their exclusion mean those animals cannot be considered trophies? No, of course not. The trophy label is even more personal than ethical standards. I have no idea why my mounted elk antlers would score because I just don't care. Their size isn't what makes the antlers a trophy to me. What does is the recollection of calling a nice bull in within 20 yards in a light snow, trying to coax him out of the thick timber and then dropping him with a cartridge my father handloaded specifically for the task.
    One of my other mounts is a pronghorn antelope buck. In therms of relative size, my buck would have to stand on his tiptoes to see "marginal". But I chased him over the Steens Mountain for three days and killed him on the third day after a five-mile stalk.
    In my mind he is a magnificent trophy and I smile every time I look at him. Sometimes I even laugh, because now that he is up close and unmoving I can see that his right ear is missing two inches off the top, probably the result of an early coyote encounter. All the time I was chasing him across the STeens I was comparing his horns to his ears and boy, they looked big. It's amazing how big antelope horns look when compared to three-quarters of an ear.
    I supposed I should respond to my friend. "You're right," I said. "Those antlers are a trophy, but not in the sense you mean. I don't care how they compare to others or where they stand in a record book. They do the same thing for me as the pictures in your house of your kids and grandkids. They serve as a memory tickler. And I never look at them without honoring the animal who wore them or giving thanks for the year's worth of meat he provided."
    "And there's one other thing," he said.
    "What's that?"
    "They are absolutely beautiful."
    "Amen."
    Published in Washington-Oregon Game & Fish Magazine November 2011

    These are my sentaments, he is better at writing down his thoughts than am.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Got little ones right in with bigger ones and no money spent on taxidermy.My hunt my memory heck my smallest bear is my best hunt story and I have the skull,some bigger skulls are long gone
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Well said and exactly how I have it in my head!

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    "When I hear a man say he killed "a 360 bull" I know his measure of success is made with a tape measure and not with his heart."
    That is my favorite self rightous sentence from that article.
    Speaking for myself personally, on the rare occasions when I am not out ruining the genetics of entire populations of species by passing up animals which have not yet had enough time to grow up enough and reach their genetic potential, I am measuring all the other things in my life with one true love - my tape measure. My career, my house, my car, my wife. In fact, ironically, inside my chest beats not a human heart, but a black and decker tape measure that I have modified to pump blood. For I have no heart, only a tape measure which I have no ability to love with.

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    Being serious though, I thought cows get bred/pregnant when they come into season. I have never heard of bulls not being ready when the cows come into season. I have a tough time imagining a bull smelling a cow in season and being "unready".

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    Quote Originally Posted by stick+string View Post
    Being serious though, I thought cows get bred/pregnant when they come into season. I have never heard of bulls not being ready when the cows come into season. I have a tough time imagining a bull smelling a cow in season and being "unready".
    Not a clue, I just copyed (actally, I only copied 4 paprgraphs, mom did the rest cause I was taking to long. lol)
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    Got little ones right in with bigger ones and no money spent on taxidermy.My hunt my memory heck my smallest bear is my best hunt story and I have the skull,some bigger skulls are long gone
    Yup. I hang small animals (like all the squirrel hides and grouse tails) along with my massive 36 inch moose. and dads big caribou big muledeer and small and big black tail antlers. and his almost perfectly symitrical, classic moose looking 39 inch moose antlers
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    The idea that trophy hunting contributes to a weaker and smaller membered population requires one to also believe that humans are not subject to the laws of nature. In other words, our effects on the natural world are somehow "different" because we are not part of the natural world. This is a false idea.
    For "trophy" hunting to have the negative effects portrayed in the article, humans must kill virtually EVERY large male in a population and kill them BEFORE they pass on their genes. This is difficult to accomplish. A male animal does not need to posses a large trophy rack/horns to have been sired by a large trophy size parent and to pass on those large, trophy genes.
    One must also believe that modern wildlife managers are not accounting for the removal of a certain number of mature animals from a population. This is also not true. Modern science, study of wildlife populations has allowed us humans to learn about wildlife population dynamics and managers use this information in the application of the hunting regulations that govern human hunters. An example is the 50 in./spike fork rule here in Alaska for many moose areas.
    One can certainly peruse the record books and see that the largest animals were taken in years past. But these are animals at the extreme end of the population. Even an unhunted population would not result in many members in the TOP trophy size. Looking at the mid range of record books, one would likely see that new members are added every year. Large, healthy, mature animals are still well represented in our wildlife pops.
    When a human enters the field, he has virtually only one ability.............his intelligence. He must hunt "smart" to succeed. This forces the surviving members to be "smarter". Just about every outdoor mag issue has articles on how to hunt the "smart" ones. Human hunting is additive to the selection of the "fittest" members of a wildlife population.
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    Hunting is very personal and we all hunt for somewhat different reasons. Trophy hunting probably does not ding the gene pool in places like Alaska because there is so much room for large animals to roam around without seeing humans. In places like Europe however, or the East Coast of the US, intense hunting pressure for long periods of time has removed the large animals from the gene pool.

    I read a passage in a famous book about hunting history that described the various types of hunters- trophy, meat, social, nature, and spirtual. Most of us are combinations of these. As I have reached my 60s trophies have become less important. I now care about meat, hunting with close dependable friends and being part of the food chain. Spirituality has become much more important, in showing reverence to an animal for giving its life. I now say a prayer to thank the animal instead of yelling and sending high fives.

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    Stick+string, I have on more than a dozen occasion watched a cow/cows definitely in heat get no response from large bulls,
    and this is early in the rut, cows and bulls bunched. I've see cows pester bulls to take 'action', the most common action taken
    by cows to try and prompt a bull to breed, is after a cow 'offers' their odorous rear end to a bull multiple times, then with no response,
    the cow will come up along side the bull, facing the opposite direction, and swing their head down between the bulls hind legs,
    then suddenly lift their head, sometimes I've seen the cow completely lift both of the bulls hind legs off the ground. This happens very fast.
    To me its the equivalent of being kicked in the nuts by a potential girlfriend. I figure if nothing else, the bulls testicles
    do get more blood flowing to the testicles after the 'head butt'. I've never seen it getting a positive, immediate result from the bull.
    One cow did this to 3 different bulls within about a 4 hour period, with no action from any of the bulls. (no,, not the cows period)
    My conclusion is both have to be in the mood to 'tango'.............

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    "The value of any trophy from the field depends not on its size but on the magnitude of the effort expended in its pursuit." ~ Aldo Leopold

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    I think the reason some areas see a decline in the numbers of animals taken sporting "trophy" sized racks by measure standards, is more a by-product of simply harvesting many animals before they reach that potential. The genetics are pretty tough to wipe out, and in some cases the females can pass along those genetics even when a inferior animal does the breeding from what I have gathered?

    Not all big boyz get killed as evidenced by some fenced game farms getting trails pics of males that nobody ever see's...
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    So I did a little searching around on Pat Wray... I will simply say I disagree with him on is subject.
    When someone searches long and hard enough and passes up enough bulls to kill a true trophy moose, he is taking a 10-12 year old animal. A true trophy sheep is probably 10+ years old. Those trophies have been making their contribution to the gene pool for a long time - they have probably bred several dozen cows or ewes.
    Now this business of saying someone who loves their large antlers really only loves the measurement, the number itself... They are effectively saying that trophy hunters do not truly cherish the memory of the hunt, the meat, the chase and the effort expended... That would be like saying that we, as men, are only truly capable of loving ugly or average women, that we could not really love a beautiful woman. You don't love HER, you just love her BEAUTY. Bravo Sierra.
    Pat Wray's hunting experiences are not more pure, more authentic, more genuine, more spiritual, more responsible, or more ethical than mine just because he shoots at the first legal animal he sees.

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    I have noticed that when I spend a long time persuing a particular animal, then when I actually get teh chance to harvest it I don't really get as much satasfaction, if you will, from it, because I think the persuit is what I enjoyed, not taking the life.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Maybe you'd find you enjoy wildlife photography more than hunting

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    Quote Originally Posted by stick+string View Post
    Maybe you'd find you enjoy wildlife photography more than hunting
    Maybe you'll find that everyone doesn't have to agree with your way of thinking.
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    Perhaps, with grouse and such small game, I always take a picture before I shoot it,

    Also, I dont agree with everything he says, such as "when a hunter says he shot a 360 class bull I know he is measuring his success with a tape measure and not his heart" I think thats kinda over the top, most people want to know how big thier animals horns are. I wouldn't intentionaly not measure a moose, I'd be freakin excited and try to make it as big as i could.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    for me it all depends on what is being hunted...our game animals are different and require different measures of management and theres obvious differences in criteria in what makes some species "trophy" while others it wouldnt matter a whit...ie: whens the last time you inspected the cape of a sixty five + inch moose (and i'm speaking of the "average" alaskan hunter, not the odd subsistence hunter who actually relies on his yearly moose or pile of caribou to live...) and passed on it due to hide color, or quality...chances are you didnt give a crap and shot him for his width, not cape quality...while there are some bear hunters who would rather take home an eight foot bear with a great hide than a ten footer with inferior cape quality...trophy hunting is simply far too difficult to stereotype and get away with than other things...theres just too many variables to what is considered a "trophy" and what isnt...not sure what the big deal is anyway...all this talk of trophy hunting vs meat hunting?...blah... blah... blah... if you ask me...its all just differing justifications for personal reasons for the killing of our game animals. i'll scoff readily in the face of any "meat hunter" that thinks he's better than me as i go about my duties as a guide...freely trophy hunting any of our great game animals...and i'll in turn freely scoff at anyone who looks on with disdain at the "tiny" caribou/moose/sheep/deer i successfully take while "meat" hunting for my family's table...all of you can kiss my ass respectively...no apologies on my part for partaking in either endeavor...




    "I'm a little suprised at you" He said, "I've read several articles you've written about how bad trophy hunting is and here you have a trophy on your wall"
    I thought seriously about his statement and decided he had made a couple of mistakes. First, he confused the concept of trophy hunting with having a personal trophy. It is accurate to say that I oppose the selective killing of the best and biggest animals of a species. I believe it imposes a reverse darwinian selection of the least fit, in which the lesser animals are left alive to breed and pass along their genes. Over time, one obvious result will be smaller, less capable animals.
    A look at the record books bears out this theory; with occasional exceptions, the largest animals of the back country have been taken in decades past. Whitetails, which are far more likely to benefit from human agriculture, and are often scientifically fed for maximum antler and body growth, haven't necessarily followed the same downward trend. But the whitetail situation reflects maximum human interference, a question for another time.
    Targeting the biggest males does more than simple remove the best genes form the population; it also has a negative impact on overall health health. Consider elk activity during the rut. A mature bull is ready to breed weeks earlier than younger bulls. The cows he breeds will become pregnant earlier and give birth earlier than those cows bred by younger bulls. As a result, the big bull's progeny will enjoy better nutrition for a longer time before they must endure their fist winter. Their rate of survival will be higher and they will come out of the winter stronger. His male offspring have a better chance of becoming dominant bulls. Females will be more likely to give birth to healthy youngsters.
    Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Problems associated with delayed breeding and birth continue through succeeding generations. When most breeding is done by young bulls, the problems compound themselves over time.
    But as I am against the killing of a big, mature animal when the opportunity presents? Absolutely not. When hunters target all legan animals, as opposed to only the largest, mature males, the harvest will contain a reasonable percentage of massive animals, but not so many as to endanger herd health.
    I kill a large elk or deer when I get a chance, but I don't focus on them to the exclusion of other, lesser animals. In general, I kill the first legal animal I see. Occasionally, that animal is very good, as was the case with the bull elk whose antlers my friend noticed. More often than not, it is mediocre. Fortunately, mediocre animals tend to be more tender and taste better than the big fellas.
    My concerns with trophy hunting are not just biological, but social. When hunters begin to think of game animals in terms of their record book scores, a critical element in the equation is lost. Our heritage as hunter-gatherers becomes a step further removed. The relationship between hunter and hunted changes from that of a predator-prey to something more akin to shooter-prize. When I hear a man say he killed "a 360 bull" I know his measure of success is made with a tape measure and not with his heart.
    The second mistake my friend made was adopting the technique of some political pundits of taking a complex issue and treating it as though it were very simple. Any discussion of trophy hunting must encompass the concepts of legality, morality and ethics, all of which can be murky and unclear.
    For instance, more and more ranchers are providing the opportunity to shoot large and essentially domestic elk and deer within small, fenced enclosures.
    Legal? In many cases, yes. Ethical? Questionable at best. But then, ethics are personal after all, so in lieu of a widespread ethical standard, the hunting community has adopted rules set forth by the Boone and Crockett Club and its archery equipment, the Pope and Young Club. Those entities establish guidelines for the inclusion of animals in their listings and they specifically exclude animals taken from small, fenced enclosures.
    But does their exclusion mean those animals cannot be considered trophies? No, of course not. The trophy label is even more personal than ethical standards. I have no idea why my mounted elk antlers would score because I just don't care. Their size isn't what makes the antlers a trophy to me. What does is the recollection of calling a nice bull in within 20 yards in a light snow, trying to coax him out of the thick timber and then dropping him with a cartridge my father handloaded specifically for the task.
    One of my other mounts is a pronghorn antelope buck. In therms of relative size, my buck would have to stand on his tiptoes to see "marginal". But I chased him over the Steens Mountain for three days and killed him on the third day after a five-mile stalk.
    In my mind he is a magnificent trophy and I smile every time I look at him. Sometimes I even laugh, because now that he is up close and unmoving I can see that his right ear is missing two inches off the top, probably the result of an early coyote encounter. All the time I was chasing him across the STeens I was comparing his horns to his ears and boy, they looked big. It's amazing how big antelope horns look when compared to three-quarters of an ear.
    I supposed I should respond to my friend. "You're right," I said. "Those antlers are a trophy, but not in the sense you mean. I don't care how they compare to others or where they stand in a record book. They do the same thing for me as the pictures in your house of your kids and grandkids. They serve as a memory tickler. And I never look at them without honoring the animal who wore them or giving thanks for the year's worth of meat he provided."
    "And there's one other thing," he said.
    "What's that?"
    "They are absolutely beautiful."
    "Amen."
    Published in Washington-Oregon Game & Fish Magazine November 2011

    These are my sentaments, he is better at writing down his thoughts than am.[/QUOTE]

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    The problem with "trophy hunting" is it's easy vilify by inference and misinformation. The common image of the trophy hunter is the wealthy guided hunter who is in effect a poacher; the guy who bribes his guide and continues to kill mature animals until one of sufficient trophy score is obtained. Yes, those guys exist but they are exceedingly rare.

    The other image is the city-slicker who drives out to the country, kills an animal, hacks off the head and heads back to town to show off.

    But what about the dedicated, ethical trophy hunter? The guy (or gal) who passes on animal after animal waiting for that heavy horned, past-his-prime "monarch" to show himself. These hunters often go home empty handed, and not because they didn't have clean shots at legal animals, but because the didn't find "the one". Nobody ever extolls these trophy hunters.

    I'd rather our ranks be populated with these hunters than the ignoramuses who think that a hunting license means the state "owes" them an animal.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    I don't understand why "the other guys" reason for hunting has to be wrong or less ethical than mine. I hunt for several reasons, mostly because I like hunting. But along with that is that I may want the meat and or the hide or I may just want to rid the earth of some particular animal. Rats for instance should be shot on sight and I doubt if I'd get much argument even when I just let them rot. I'm not a trophy hunter but it's because I really don't care how big or how many bumps a, to me, usless part of an animal is or has. That doesn't make me morally superior to anyone, it just means I don't care about some things that others do. If someone hunts primarily for the hide or the antlers, thats fine too provided they follow the law. Shooting a black bear over bait isn't something I would be real proud of but it would be an easy way to get a bear rug. If others choose to shoot a bear by baiting thats fine it's their choice and that's the way it should be. To me the hunt is about being in the woods chasing game with a buddy or two and then swapping lies around the fire late into the evening. Shooting something is a nice bonus whether with a huge rack or simply a large pile of meat. I have been hunting for about 50 years and have no idea what a score of 360 even means. The trophy is not why I hunt. To each his own.

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