By Michael Deming

The New Year is upon us and all the big game seasons will come to a close this month if they haven’t already for a good number of us. It is now time to start planning your schedule for the New Year and hopefully that trophy of a lifetime.

After spending nearly a hundred personal days in the field last year and talking to hundreds of other hunters, one thing stood out to me which needs to be addressed. On numerous occasions in Colorado, Utah and Arizona, I spoke with people who talked about the lack of quality animals in the area. Some of these hunts were premium limited entry hunts and others were general over the counter opportunity types of hunts. The states manage these hunts differently and try to accommodate all of their constituents by giving a fair amount of opportunity with a fair amount of trophy potential types of hunts. It is a very tough job, especially when everyone they are trying to please is a self-proclaimed expert at wildlife management (that’s a story for another day).

Regardless of where you have a tag, the lack of trophy animals is a very common statement around hunting camps. As the seasons start to wind down, I ran into many of these hunters back in town or as they were breaking camp. They often had a small 2-point buck or a rag horn bull which they harvested on their last day of the hunt. I am a trophy hunter and filling a tag with a juvenile buck or bull isn’t a practice that I personally partake in and I’m not going to tell anyone that they should take on my philosophies.

There are many people who take to the woods each and every year for just the experience of the hunt and the desire to fill their freezer with healthy and tasty venison. However, these people aren’t the ones complaining about the lack of trophy animals. We don’t need the Fish and Game of any state to set trophy units if we just managed ourselves. If you are looking for trophy animals and discouraged about the lack of them, please don’t be the guy that shoots a 2-point standing off the side of the road at the last light of the last night. Let them grow up and develop that trophy potential you are truly looking to harvest. It only takes a couple of years of doing this to truly turn a unit around. I know not everyone is going to partake in this philosophy and many will continue their practices and support their decision by saying, “if I don’t shoot it, someone else will”. If we can save just one young deer as a group, we have made a difference.

I would also like to see us make a difference in our sport by sticking together. What I mean by this is that traditional bow hunters hate compound bow hunts, compound bow hunters don’t want crossbow hunters around. Rifle hunters hate that bow hunters get to hunt the elk in the rut. The list goes on and on. While the anti-hunters all stick together as one cause “hate all hunters”, we make their job easier by tearing each other apart. This doesn’t help our cause and makes us very susceptible to losing the battle. A very common military tactic is “Divide and Conquer”. Please don’t let our heritage be taken away from us and our future generations because we can’t come together. Hunting is hunting and if it isn’t the style or type you want, this is America and you have the choice of not doing it. However, it could be how your neighbor grew up and is their passion. Use this as an opportunity to learn about their heritage and stick together as a group. There are many more of us than there are Anti-hunters and we can defeat them if we stick together.

And finally, as we ring in 2015, the countdown is on for the new Sportsman’s News Membership Program. The official launch will be this February, but keep checking back daily at www.sportsmansnews.com for full details on this exciting event. We will have a soft launch to work out any bugs and for those of you that get registered first, the odds will be unbelievable. No specific details yet, but there will be over $300,000 worth of trips and guns to be had during the first calendar year. Please sign up for the digital edition of Sportsman’s News while visiting our website and you will be notified when we do the official launch.
Happy New Year to All.