As with any sport, a competitive streak runs through deer hunting. Hunters are always swapping stories of how large a buck was, or how many points it had, even to the point of extreme exaggeration. So it makes sense that for as long as hunting has existed for sport, there have been hunting contests to award bragging rights to the hunter who bagged the biggest trophy. But some fear that the hunting contest takes a step in the wrong direction; many worry that hunters 5.7 green tip are killing deer for bragging rights alone, and not to use the meat and carcass of the deer as is preferred. Because of this negative criticism, many groups have discontinued hunting contests all together.
Those who criticize the practice of hunting contests do so under the assumption that hunters “shoot to kill”, instead of shooting to use the meat of the animal. Some contests have tried to offset this criticism by changing the rules. For instance, the World Hunting Association, long known for their deer hunting contest, proposed the idea of using tranquilizers to only knock the deer out for a period of time, but that proposal received even more scrutiny; many protesters said it would be animal cruelty, so the WHA returned to the traditional format.
Deer hunting has been closely regulated by the Department of Natural Resources for many decades so hunters will not adversely effect the deer population. Hunting contests, by their very nature, encourage the hunter to bag the biggest trophy, so another concern is that an irresponsible hunter may try to take a deer by illegal means. If hunters decide to disregard the laws set in place, the deer population could plummet.
One suggestion made has been to allow the hunters to take deer off of only 1,000 square acres of land, thus the deer population would be very strictly controlled. Also, other hunters not participating in the contest who plan to use the meat for food won’t be affected by the abundance of hunters. But while some contests are attempting to find better ways to run their competition, just as many more continue to run their contests in the traditional way.
The best thing a competitive hunter can do is to stick to deer hunting contests that are strongly regulated. This will allow the hunter to compete with minimal interruption from outside criticism. Also, the more regulated a competition is, often times the more challenging, so when a hunter does triumph, the reward will be all the more satisfying.