Temperature Vs. Trophy: Making The Tough Call And Letting It Go

One of the dilemmas of early season hunting is the weather can be unseasonable until things begin to stabilize later into the fall season.   So, today I ask the important question…if a trophy animal presents itself within shooting range and there is a chance the elevated temps could spoil the meat before it can get handled properly, will you let it go?

I know for many hunters this situation can present itself and be one of the most agonizing decisions a hunter will ever make.   You could have spent countless hours in the deer stand or on a difficult stalk only to let the animal see yet another day thanks to prevailing temperatures and circumstances beyond your complete control.

Let me explain.   Back in 1996 I was hunting antelope in Montana and my season was winding down.   I was in day five of a six day hunt and the heat of the open range had taken its toll on me.   More importantly, it had taken its toll on my coolers as my supply of camp ice was quickly dwindling.   Past experiences had taught me how much ice to bring, but past experiences did not have to endure the high heat as I witnessed on this trip.

My partner and I belly crawled up on some nice antelope where they were within easy shooting range.   I glanced through the herd and picked out the buck I wanted to take.

But I hesitated.   Indeed, I did not feel right about what I was about to do.

You see, I knew back in camp I did not have the ice necessary to deal with the meat I would likely harvest.   Moreover, I was on a rough section of the ranch where it was over an hour to the ranch house…and another two hours to the closest city where I could have found a processing plant with a cooler or, at the very least, more ice.

Call it improper planning if you will, but the point is a shot taken at this point would have resulted in a nice animal bagged but a beautiful animal’s meat all but wasted by the act.   I chose NOT to shoot and ended up going home empty-handed from the western hunt.

These type of tough calls are all part of hunting.   Consider the deer hunter who sees a trophy deer but at the edge of his shooting range.   Sure, it might be reasonable to take such a shot, but hunting at extreme ranges also increases the odds for an extended recovery.   If you know there’s even an increased chance for a delayed recovery and perhaps wasted meat, is it ethical to take the shot?   It’s a tough call.   It’s also a very personal call.

This scenario can play itself out many different ways.   Marginal shots while upland bird hunting when your normal canine partner is not with you to aid in the quick recovery…I think you get the picture.   The main goal of hunting should be the preservation of the meat being harvested, but it’s easy to forget during warm weather conditions how the precious time clock begins ticking quicker the moment the shot is taken.

I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this subject.   Have you ever taken a chance you later lived to regret?   Have there been days you could have hunted, but rather chose not to for this very reason of high heat perhaps leading to spoilage?   Is it even ethical to shoot a game animal when the odds are stacked against the hunter for obtaining a wholesome meat product to take home?

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

I’ve Done Some Thinking….

While I’ve taken a break from blogging (see previous post) I haven’t stepped away from reading other outdoor blogs or following the current “hot-button” issues that surround us in the outdoors world.   What suddenly occurred to me is the notion I think many of us fail to consider when we form our thoughts and opinions on the outdoors.

What is our ultimate goal (or what should it be)?   Seriously, as a group of outdoor users what should we all be striving towards to accomplish in our outdoor pursuits?   Mind you, I’m not talking personal goals here…I’m talking identifiable benchmarks we can collectively use to determine we’re achieving something good and proper for each of our various outdoor activities.


Only by sharing a common goal for how we should be enjoying the outdoors can we expect to achieve success and harmony in all of our outdoor pursuits.

Let me provide an example.   Yesterday I read on Facebook where someone posed the question should crossbows be used during the regular archery deer hunting season.   In many states, and my home state of Minnesota being one of them, crossbow users are greatly restricted to use only during select times and/or by persons showing a doctor diagnosed disability.

Now, on one hand those individuals suggesting “yes” point to the fact that as a hunter ages it gets increasingly difficult to pull back on a bow, even today’s modern compounds incorporating marvelous engineering designs can still be too much for muscles enduring atrophy.   Yet, traditional archers understandably have reason to limit an expansion of deer hunter opportunities leading to increased competition on a limited commodity.

So, we have a standoff between two factions of sportsmen each with a personal vested interest in rules being construed to their recreational advantage.   Emotions over the issue build, eventually one side or the other starts to undermine the other’s stance with negativity, and suddenly sportsmen are at odds over a matter that should not even be occurring.   Why?   Because inherently we let selfish desires sway our thinking (and acting) due to the fact we’re all not operating toward an established outdoors goal.

Here’s another example.   In Minnesota, like a growing number of states, we’ve been experimenting with various deer management principles involving antler point restrictions (or APR’s).   The thought being if hunters are required to count a certain number of points on a buck to make it legal, this will help shift the buck population to one that is more mature, hence more trophies.

The problem is not everyone wants to deer hunt with those added restrictions.   Indeed, one faction of hunters wants the DNR to mandate certain criteria to theoretically increase the number of trophy deer bounding through the woods.   On the flip side are deer hunters who prefer doing things the traditional way allowing every hunter to determine what they consider to be a trophy.   Bottom line…selfish personal desires place otherwise regular, agreeable sportsmen at great odds.

Okay, enough talk about a goal.   Let’s establish a common goal among all sportsmen that should be widely understood as well as embraced.   The goal needs to take “what’s best for me” out of the equation.   The goal needs to be so ridiculously simple that everyone understands it.   The goal needs to resonate and become woven into the fabric of everything we do, henceforth, when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, etc.

The goal needs to rejoice in the fact that although many of us choose to enjoy the outdoors in slightly different ways, our differences should never become kindling used for torching fellow sportsmen.   Indeed, the goal might need to re-focus our thinking for the greater good of our beloved outdoor pursuits, but that’s okay and a healthy step in the right direction.

THE GOAL:  All laws, rules and regulations should be developed and construed allowing the MAXIMUM number of people to participate and to enjoy the outdoors.   There you have it!   Notice I didn’t say to enjoy the outdoors a certain way at the expense of how others might enjoy it.   Of course, the underlying caveat to this goal must always consider what is good for the natural resources first and foremost.

Honestly, folks, I’ve really growing tired of the divisiveness prevalent within our ranks seemingly motivated by pure selfish thinking.   It’s a cancer and needs to be dealt with before it spreads out of control.   As a group, we can’t afford to alienate other sportsmen (or future sportsmen) because we strive to push for personal agendas losing sight of what should be the greater goal.   Then, of course, if we all choose to continue operating without a common goal for our beloved outdoor activities we simply continue on a destiny of eventual doom.

Your thoughts?

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

How Come There’s Not An App For That?

I’ve had this blog topic bouncing around in my head now for several months.   As a growing number of sportsmen get iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys, etc. it only seems logical to make use of this advancing technology.   Right?

Well, not consistently for the Minnesota DNR.   In fact, doing some quick checking with other state game agencies around the country I see many of them are not taking full advantage of the growing trend toward smart phone use, either.

Here’s what I’m talking about.   This fall the Minnesota DNR has a hunting and trapping rules book that is 130 pages in size.   Unless you have big pockets in a coat or pants, the 5” x 8” size is not very easy or practical to carry with in the field.   Now 35+ years ago when I began my hunting career this book was a small pamphlet consisting of maybe 10 pages or so.   You could insert it into a shirt pocket, even fold it in half and a person wouldn’t even realize it was there.IMG_0697

But things change.   Laws and rules relating to hunting and fishing have grown more complex and what used to take 15 minutes to fully read now takes at least an entire evening to peruse.   But that’s another topic for another time.

My beef is why doesn’t the Minnesota DNR put its rule book for hunting and fishing laws into the form of an app.   It makes just too much sense.   Frankly, I carry my phone with me almost at all times.   I would love to have ready access to the information it contains—if for no other reason than to verify what I already believe the rules to be.

An app could also enable a hunter to put in a key word and quickly find the section that pertains to the issue in question.   Honestly, there are a multitude of reasons it just makes sense for a hunting and fishing rules app.

Not to mention sometimes rules change after the paper version of the book is printed.   Or sometimes there is an error in the printed materials that is not practical to correct when you have a million copies all ready for distribution.   An app would allow updates to be made by simply creating a new version of the app.   Don’t you agree, it sounds just too simple and practical.

I took the initiative of talking about this topic with Ed Boggess, Deputy Director of the MN DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.   I asked Ed what plans the department has for the future and here was his response:

“While we have discussed this, there are no definitive plans in the works.  However, we are working on new standards for producing our on-line hunting, fishing and waterfowl regs to meet statewide technology requirements and this will likely be discussed again as part of that effort.”

In other words, the DNR doesn’t seem to be approaching this topic with any urgency or great importance, at least not at this point in time.

Okay, I can accept that explanation…and up until today I was quite accepting of the fact our hunting and fishing laws are not available via smart phone technology.   But then this MN DNR news release crossed my desk:

DNR announces fall color app for smart phones

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a simple application (beta release) that allows people to take fall color information with them.

The iPhone (also iPod Touch and iPad) and Android smart phones are currently supported. People can also use any WebKit-based browser (Chrome or Safari) to view the app.

Features include real-time access to fall color reports provided by DNR Parks and Trails staff and integration with Google maps.

More information is available on the website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/mobile/index.html

Fall-colors-app-2-(2)Okay, that’s just wonderful how the DNR has an app for folks to track fall tree colors on their phones, but c’mon…talk about not staying consistent.   Here’s an app with value to folks viewing fall colors for maybe 3 or 4 weeks each year.   Folks, in this blog I’m promoting the development of an app with utility value ALL YEAR ROUND — winter, spring, summer and fall.   What gives?

I have to believe that in just a few years this blog post will seem outdated because everyone will be developing and using apps for such a purpose.   That is my hope.   Yet, in the meantime, I sometimes wonder how short-sighted and out-of-touch these state game and fish departments are with technology that it takes a blogger to be making the suggestion.   Seriously, if you want to promote your game and fish resources in a positive manner to the customers (that would be us license buying sportsmen) why not strive to be on the cutting edge providing to us what we desperately need.

Nope, instead of checking the opening dates of muzzleloading deer season, my DNR in Minnesota would rather I go check out the colorful leaves by using my phone.   Go figure.

If you’re not from Minnesota and your game or fish department has an app for smart phone users, I’d like to hear about it.   Please send me the link.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.