Fame, Notoriety and Prominence – Can and should they be considered for the deer hunter?

Posted on December 18, 2018



It’s not always the size of the man or the magnitude of his determination that counts.
It’s often the height of his hip boots. – Gene Wensel


Words have meaning. They leave impressions. And yet the careless pen waxes on about unrealistic feats in order to sensationalize and sell that which is usually quite routine. Because most now operate in eight second soundbites, the creation of a hero, catch phrase or brand is easier than ever – you just need hire someone whose responsibility is to market it on social media. But is greatness really great without substance?

Who is the greatest? Muhammad Ali believed he was, dancing about the ring during his heyday as a heavyweight boxer with the self-proclamation: “I am the greatest.” Yet, as life marched on with Parkinson’s disease overtaking him, Ali’s once prominent, unabashed declarations were relinquished to the dust bins of frailty. We also remember in the story, The Wizard of Oz, the scene where Oz unabashedly declared, “I am the great and powerful Oz” only to find out later that an insecure old man was pulling the strings from behind a façade.

During the 2008 summer Olympics the question was asked, is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete of all time? Is he the greatest Olympian? Or, is he the greatest swimmer of all time? Do his eight gold medals in a single Olympics make him such? Are the 2018 World Champion Boston Red Sox a better baseball team than the 2004 World Champion Red Sox? Determining who may be the greatest of all time in anything is subjective at best, and it all becomes relative as to how one makes the comparison.



The contemplation of greatness, and the individuals that go all-out with such ambition is nothing new to the human race. Those that strive for excellence primarily begin their pursuit for personal fulfillment. However, once achievements have been reached, some far and above what most could ever possibly imagine, the personal accomplishments often lure them to self-glorification. The adulation, it seems, is too much and we begin to bask in the glory bestowed upon us by those also wishing to accomplish similar feats.



We live in a culture here in America that elevates our heroes to god-like status, where these heroes become our idols. We want to “be like Mike.” We could blame the media for hyping such things, and although they are often the culprits for bringing it to our TV, social media, printed page and computer, it really comes down to each individual’s choice whether to buy in.


The Deer Hunter



The deer hunting world is not immune to this malady that so permeates our society. But how does anyone judge who fits into such a category of being the greatest? How do we compare ourselves with the legends that have gone before us? What would be our measuring stick? After all, Meshach Browning killed 26 deer in one day’s hunt. Has anyone bettered that in recent memory? In his lifetime, Browning shot more than 2,000 whitetails and 500 bears, an accomplishment that could not ever be matched today due chiefly to game laws and set seasons. With that said, does that make Browning a better deer hunter than the guy that without fail, bags his deer each year?

Perhaps we, the deer hunting fraternity, as a collective whole have fallen victim to a shrewd trap, one which has insidious consequences. When you finally, at long last, put your sights onto one of the most elusive creatures in the forest wild, and bring that buck to the meat pole, just by the sheer act of squeezing the trigger or releasing the arrow, you have decided to take this particular animal. With that, you find fulfillment and joy in your accomplishment. So, what is it that eventually robs the hunter of that initial excitement? It is often when we begin to evaluate our success against another’s. Whoever may be the ‘hot shot’ deer hunter prevalent in the sporting press or seen on the seemingly endless line-up of hunting shows becomes an unrealistic standard.


To our chagrin, we as hunters routinely compare our own accomplishments to those from whom we crave acceptance. That’s the baggage that is carried around. Then it feels that our own pedestal is being threatened when someone out-guns us or shoots a “better” buck. Our insecurities immediately surface, usually with ill effects or thoughts towards the party on whom good fortune has fallen. The remedy is this: stop comparing yourself to someone else!

Hunters who are driven to achieve specific goals are often equally motivated to showcase their success. Those that rise to the occasion become the most prolific. But does that make them great? Each individual hunter takes deer hunting to a level befitting his or her own desires and goals. For some, nothing but a 200-pound buck will do. For others, any legal buck is fine. Still others would not shoot anything short of a book head. Some choose to hunt while perched aloft while others prefer to “run ‘em down”.



The prophetic words of T.S. Van Dyke, written back in 1842, ring just as true today as they did when he first penned them:

There are still parts of our country where deer are yet so plenty and tame that anyone who can shoot at all can kill some. Often when concentrated by deep snows, fires, or other causes, the wildest of deer may fall easy victims to any one of brute strength and brute heart. Even when deer are scarce, wild, and in full strength the veriest blockhead may occasionally stumble over one and kill it with a gun. And in almost any place where the ground or brush does not make too much noise beneath the feet, if there are any deer at all, brute endurance in getting over the ground enough, assisted by brute perseverance, will bring success.

But from all this we can draw only one conclusion, namely that the greater the success one has by careless methods, the better it would be and the more ease and pleasure he would have in it by doing it scientifically.



As both deer hunters and fellow human beings, should we ever be concerned with the question of who may be the greatest? Of even greater importance, would we indeed be ready to fulfill the constant requirements that come with that accolade? And really, should the inquiry ever be made as to whom might be the best deer hunter in America? Really? How would or could you ever qualify such an outrageous proposition. Some of the most consistent hunters shooting incredible bucks remain in the shadows of anonymity by choice; with some being better than any of those we know.

In the words of the greatest man to ever live, Jesus, when asked about greatness stated, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.”

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