Have We Become Desensitized Hunters?

Nearly 25 years ago, I was part of the very first Western hunting show, which featured the biggest mule deer in the world. Most of these heads had never been seen before in public, and to say I was in awe was an understatement. Here I was in a room that had the Burris buck, the largest typical of all time, and even meeting Doug Burris, Ted Riggs, Kirt Darner, Dennis Wintch, among others, was truly a treat. In fact, for me it was like walking down on the court during the NBA all-star weekend and chatting with the ball players.

Behind The Scenes

I was with a good friend in a booth, so I kind of had a behind-the-scenes look at these massive mule deer. I remember standing in front of some of these “famous” heads and just staring, for what seemed to be hours, but I’m sure was only, minutes. To actually be that close to some of the heads took my breath away.

Nothing fancy about the booths back then. (circa early 1990’s)

A mule deer collector from Montana, Don Schaufler, had brought his collection of massive bucks. Never before have they been out of his own warehouse/home, and as they were hauled in on horse trailers, I was there when they unloaded them and looked at them on the ground while they hung them up. Don had the most incredible collection in the world. This was before everyone decided to start collecting heads, so he had quite the collection of massive non typicals, most I had never heard of or knew even existed and others I recognized from the pages of the Boone & Crockett books.

Is This The Line For The New iPhone 50?

When the show opened, I remember the line outside of people waiting to come in and see these magnificent trophies. We were not far from where the Burris buck was displayed and during the entire duration of the show, there was a massive crowd of people just looking at it, talking about it, and I’m sure dreaming about their own hunts of the one that got away. Any location within the show that had giant bucks, had massive lines and people around it. People were snapping pictures right and left, standing in amazement of what they were witnessing.

Not the best photo, but this is the booth where Doug Burris sat and thousands stood in admiration of the largest typical mule deer of all time. (circa early 1990’s)

Yea, Yea, I’ve Seen It

Fast forward to modern day. I was at a hunting show in 2013 in Utah and on display was one of the largest mule deer ever killed and the largest killed in the past several decades. It was primetime on a Saturday when I left our booth and went for a bathroom break, and decided to walk past this buck to take a look at it. I had already seen the buck as I put it in one of our calendars, but I wanted to see the excitement and crowds of people surely standing in awe of this magnificent buck. As I got close to the where the buck was displayed, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was no line. No crowd. In fact, there wasn’t a single person standing to look at that magnificent buck. I stood in front of this buck and looked around at all the people at the show, it was packed, but not a single person, besides myself, was here to admire this magnificent animal.

Is That a Tear In My Eye?

I was saddened. I was disappointed. What happened to the appreciation of these giants that we all hope to put on our own wall one day? Maybe it’s because there are so many shows now that people have already seen them. Maybe it’s because there are so many magazines that showcase nothing but giant animals that we don’t care anymore. Or maybe, it’s because of social media and our never-ending appetite for more more more. Maybe it’s already old news. Or is it simply a mixture of all of these that has made us desensitized when we see a world class animal.

Full body mounts were something spectacular to see. (circa early 1990’s)

I know that we live in a world where the best and worst of everything can be seen within seconds of a thought. What used to take me days of research and many books purchased, I can now get all that and more for free with the click of a button. Doesn’t even take much talent now to pursue a desire. Simply type in whatever you want and presto, there it is.

It’s What I’m Grateful For

So what am I grateful for? I’m grateful that I was around when big bucks were not commercialized the way they are today. It was before the value of a big racked animals went through the roof. It was a time when the stories and legends were as exciting as the launch of a new iPhone. It was a day before the hundreds of “nonprofit” organizations that claim to “help” our animals, much the same way as the nonprofits that expose young starving children in making you feel guilty for eating a super sized meal instead of just a normal one, but I guess that is for another day to.


This is one of the bucks from Kirt Darner, a hunter whose legacy was tarnished over time, but at the time, was the biggest draw in the Western hunting world.  (circa early 1990’s)

Next time you are at a show and you see a world class animal, stop, pause and take some time to let it sink in. Let the actuality of just how big the animal is compared to your own trophy collection, and out of pure respect for the animal, show reverence that you are in the presence of something great.

The End.

Have a different opinion or point of view?  Bring it on baby . . .