When Lightning Strikes

Posted on January 10, 2017

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The Aftermath of Shooting a Record Class Whitetail

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It only takes a fraction of a second. The buck is in your sights, your heart pounds, the trigger is reflexively squeezed and then, silence. As you walk to the location where the animal was standing when shot, you begin to see bits and pieces of buckskin and bone. The closer you get, the larger the beast becomes. Once at the kill scene you are filled with a flood of mixed emotions, one of which is complete astonishment at just how large a specimen that now lies dead at your feet.

 

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Depending on your priorities, the first reaction could be to pull out the cell phone and begin typing out tweets or Facebook posts, thinking your conquest is a docu-drama where everyone on your friend list is sitting on pins and needles awaiting the results of your hunt. They in return will reply with requests for photos, size, weight, points, etc. as if this process is a checkout line at the local grocers. Others will be content to savor the moment on a more personal level, reflecting on every aspect of the hunt. The more contemplative types will take the necessary steps to ensure good photos are taken, field dressing chores administered and a game plan is formulated to drag the giant out.

Regardless of your personal response at taking a buck that may well be better than what 99.9% of all whitetail hunters will ever have the opportunity to see, much less shoot, you are now in for an unexpected ride.

 

Ugliness

 

The oft used quote, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” aptly depicts a segment of the deer hunting fraternity when they learn that some fortunate bloke has shot something much larger than they have. The personal elation, excitement, gratification and happiness that you initially felt – as you should – will now be diminished by some that are green with envy over your accomplishment.

You see, there are folks that cannot believe that someone else deserves or should have the opportunity to shoot a record buck. And when it happens their jealousy comes oozing out like puss from an open wound.

The first assault is to question the ethics of the hunter with snide inquiries like, “Was the scale certified?”, “Did someone witness the weighing?”, “Was the animal completely cleaned out?” My question in response is, why would anyone assume that the lucky hunter would behave dishonestly? The answer to that question is obvious; it usually comes because those asking have these tendencies themselves.

 

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The second barrage is to assume that the hunter is a liar (of course not that bluntly) by looking at the hero shots provided and judging the legitimacy of the claimed weight and score. And then, to further validate their sour grapes, produce images of a buck they once shot as a comparative. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Apparently, there are some that can view a photograph and discern the weight and score of that animal. Kudos to them as they are far superior to most of us mere mortals.

The third round of volleys are a bit more disguised as this group asks about the hunter’s field dressing skills. Was the evisceration opening long enough? How could you possibly get the paunch out of such a small opening? Was the anus still attached? (After all, poop does add some weight, I guess?)

By now you are thinking, who would go to such an extent to ruin, wreck and spoil an occasion that should be an otherwise joyous one? Jealous and envious sore-sports that cannot get over the fact that someone other than them shot a buck that they can only dream about, that’s who. These are small-minded people that are so insecure with themselves they need to find a way to diminish another hunter’s accomplishment; they must delegitimize another’s accomplishment to make themselves appear superior.

 

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Sadly, the above actually transpired this past deer season in my own home state of Maine. A gracious hunter who by good fortune or skill shot a buck that dressed out north of 280 pounds. It remains to be seen, but his buck could indeed be the heaviest shot during the 2016 season. Instead of being whole-heartedly celebrated for this accomplishment from our red coat fraternity, a minority felt it their duty to put the guy on trial.

My thoughts about these folks evokes a rant that goes something like this: “Well guess what, you did not shoot the buck! You were not given that opportunity! You have never shot a buck that weighed that much! And all your misgivings, surmisings, and opinions are not going to change that. Get over it. And by the way, why do you really care regarding another hunter’s buck? Unless he/she has done something illegal – that’s why we have a warden service – what is your beef? Perhaps you could become the reporting station cavity checker, weight certifier, character determiner and hunter worthiness attendant!” There. Those are my thoughts.

 

Retribution 

 

Although he was more than gracious in his responses, and given the fact that he went the extra mile to ensure there would be no questions (weighed the animal on two different scales, photographed the digital weight with the buck hanging, had a warden present) he was still met with negative insulting questions and comments when he proudly posted his conquest to fellow deer hunters. A simple congratulations would have sufficed, rather than the judgmental interrogation that followed.

 

The Afterglow

 

Although I do not know, nor have I ever met this hunter, I am personally no stranger to shooting heavyweight bucks. Regrettably, the vitriol from a few small-minded malcontents is nothing new and will always rear its ugly head whenever someone accomplishes deer hunting feats that surpass anything the naysayers have ever experienced. For this guy and all of us that head out on opening day with the thought of shooting something much larger than what we could ever dream or imagine (If that is not your thought, it should be) on that lucky, radiant day, if either by luck or good fortunate you happen to bring that giant beast to bag, then may it be a momentous and joyful occasion you can forever look back upon with fond remembrance.

 

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May we, as fellow huntsmen and women be gracious, complimentary and admiring towards the accomplishments of those who have done what we hope to one day duplicate. And if we are so fortunate to do so, think about the kind of response we would like from the fraternity ourselves, and deliver that message.

 

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Do not allow the minutia from a few drown out the applause of many. Don’t allow anyone to rain on your parade. After all, they say lightning never strikes twice.

 

All images and text on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

© 2017 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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