July 11, 2024

The Hunting and Outdoors Shows season is upon us and a lot of these shows have their main attraction being a big buck contest.  I am an official measurer for Boone & Crockett and I am at a lot of these shows measuring these deer with many other measurers from B&C, P&Y and other organizations.  Up to about 5 years ago, these shows were bringing in tons of big bucks to be measured and entered in contest.  I primarily only work the Illinois shows and contest and our Deer & Turkey Classic 5 years ago had 600-700 deer checked in (don’t know official numbers).  The years before that all showed similar numbers.  But after that, the numbers has gone down every year.  Last year at the Illinois Deer & Turkey we might have had 200 deer.  That’s a big maybe.  Event organizers are scratching their head in wonder as to what’s going on.  I don’t think number of deer is going down, so what’s left?

In my opinion, there are a couple reasons I can think of.  The first is the all time excuse for everything.   It’s the economy I guess.  Maybe it’s that not as many are getting their deer mounted because they can’t afford it.  That’s totally understandable.  Although I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for and a quality mount is worth paying the extra money for.  I have obviously put my hands on MANY deer mounts and there are always ones where the hunter got ripped off.  But the point is, people can’t afford these quality mounts or any mounts these days.  I haven’t really talked to many taxidermist lately and asked if they have noticed a drop in work over the last few years.  But I know a lot of people are passing on getting deer mounted because of funds.

The other reason in my opinion is the main reason.  Hunters these days are scared.  It’s not what your thinking.  I am talking about the hunters are scared about someone with deep pockets finding out about the Booner they shot and where the property is.  It’s all to common these days and happens a lot.  I had it happen to me with some property I was hunting.  I shared this property with the landowner.  The landowner shot a real nice buck and posted pictures all over online.  It was a week later I found out that the landowner was contacted by a leasing agent and they worked out a deal to lease the farm out to a group of hunters from another state.  The out of state hunters only wanted the farm during the prime two weeks of rut.  During that time the farm was off limits to any other hunters.  That was several years ago and I haven’t been back to that farm since.  But it taught me a valuable lesson.  I don’t tell anyone where I hunt because of that and I rarely with post pictures of anything I kill.  I will on occasion, but it won’t have my face in it.

Do others think the same way as I do?  I have no idea.  I don’t know if the reason people won’t show off their deer is because of money or they don’t want to publicize their big buck.  I just know that their are still many many big bucks getting harvested every year but the numbers to these big show are going down.  Also its not just the big shows.  All the smaller local shows and contests are having the same problems also.  Is it the show, or is it hunter.

Our Deer & Turkey Classic is the first weekend in Feb.  Will have plenty of pics of some big bucks.