Growing Your Own Trophies
Looking back at 2022, we had two major triumphs at the Midwest Monster Farm where my family does our hunting. But stay with me! This isn't just a bragging post, there's a real point I want to share as we move into 2023.
The Next Generation
First and foremost, the next generation of hunters--my eldest son HH--tallied his first buck. HH shot a wonderful 8-pointer that we had been watching on the trail cameras on our farm all summer. For our area, this is a fine buck for any hunter to harvest, and even better that a young hunter could take it for his first buck! I'm so happy that HH has become the latest in the family line of hunters that go back as far in time as we know.
Enter Mr. Big
After bringing the next generation to hunting camp and having them be successful, I didn't think it could get much better. And yet it somehow did.
I managed to kill the biggest buck of my 40+ year hunting career. After years of attempts during both the bow and firearms season, I finally, finally, finally caught up with the deer we called Mr. Big.
Mr. Big had been a midnight visitor to my farm for months this fall, but as they say, Mr. Big didn't get to be Mr. Big by being Mr. Stupid. He never visited on consecutive days, he never followed any sort of pattern that I could figure out, and he almost always moved under the cover of darkness. Even in the summer, he rarely was caught on camera during daylight hours. Mr. Big had been spotted in our area and he was a regular visitor to a nearby farm, but he wasn't a buck who was going to give himself up easily, so I hoped, but never really expected to meet him in person.
But even big, smart, old bucks make mistakes and Mr. Big made the wrong move at the wrong time and finally, I was there to capitalize. Mr. Big had a little harem of two does he was keeping together and they led him down the wrong path literally and figuratively.
If I can do it...
But my finally connecting with Mr. Big is not what this article is about. My point in telling you all this is not to brag about my hunting prowess or success. Really. It's not to tell you that I have a secret path to success or to try to sell you products that will "guarantee" your hunting success.
No, my point is this: If I can do it, you can do it.
There is NOTHING special about the Midwest Monster Farm. It's not in a "top big buck area". In fact, unlike the famous "big buck" locations in the US, the Midwest Monster Farm has absolutely nothing going for it as far as producing big bucks.
My farm is in the northern half of Minnesota--an area not known for big buck production. We have lots of hunting pressure and the number of young bucks taken every year is very high. Our neighbors are definitely not on the deer-management bandwagon as far as limiting the killing of younger bucks. We have harsh winters, wolves, coyotes, and basically all the other disadvantages that many of the northern-tier states have when it comes to producing quality whitetails.
And yet through some hard work and determination, I manage a property that produces some deer that I'm happy to hunt, and to me, there's even the occasional pulse-racing trophy among them. I don't care whether or not my deer are bigger than Illinois deer or Iowa deer or Kansas deer because I don't hunt Illinois, Iowa, or Kansas deer. Like most of Midwest Monster's customers, we're working to hunt the deer we can--the ones that live on the properties we own or lease.
Despite all the challenges I have when it comes to deer populations, managing a property for wildlife can produce great results anywhere, folks. And even better, those results are your results. The grass might be greener (and the bucks might be bigger) somewhere else, but that doesn't do any good if you can't hunt there. Love the property and hunting you have for what it is--yours.
As you start the 2023 season, start with confidence. Your efforts to manage your property for wildlife and to make it better every year will absolutely pay off in many, many ways. Ways like the gift of spending time with family and friends and other ways like the opportunity to harvest a fine animal that has benefitted from your efforts.
A trophy in Midwest Monster country should NOT be defined as a big set of antlers hanging on the wall. Sure, that might be part of it, but I hope that like me, you define trophies differently. A trophy is what you want it to be.
Grow your own trophies!
Wishing you every success and happiness in 2023 and beyond.