Here we go again. Trail camera images of massive, velvet-wrapped racks are popping up like spring weeds all over my social media lawn. Their hard horned retakes, due next month, will look even more impressive, I’m sure. Many of those trail camera images will develop into trophy shots, and I’ll again be left wondering why I’ve got nothing close on my own trail cameras. I’ve got pictures of bucks, sure. Plenty of them. Just not anything that I’m excited about shooting. Instead of shooters, it seems like all I see are passers.
But why? Why is it that all I see are culls when everybody else is slaying giants? Could it be that the habitat I hunt is too poor? I don’t think so. My neighbors sure don’t have any trouble tagging monster bucks. Is it because I don’t have the skillset so many of my fellow hunters seem to possess? No, no, that can’t possibly be it. Then why?
I actually think I’ve got an answer. It may seem farfetched, but hear me out. I’ve decided that the reason I’m not seeing big bucks is because the ground I hunt is full of ugly does. I’m talking does as ugly-as-homemade-sin. And my herd of homely does just isn’t capable of attracting magazine cover bucks. This one’s neck is too long and that one’s hips are too wide. Her eyes are set too far apart. She’s got a bald spot. And because of it, the only bucks I see are the equivalents of ninety-eight pound weaklings, the role-playing gamers of the whitetail woods.
I was tickled to shoot those bucks when I was a kid. In fact, the second buck in my bag, a stumpy little three pointer, was shot as he trotted out toward my dad’s archery target-turned-decoy, Jessie. Due to an overabundance of target practice and extended exposure to the elements, Jessie wasn’t much to look at, either, but dad had tacked an early season doe’s tail on her rump, so at least she had that going for her. Frankly, any buck that was interested in what Jessie had to offer needed to be shot, and when the little buck made his move I was happy to oblige. But that class of buck just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
I keep hoping and praying for an ‘ugly duckling’ moment, thinking that one of these days one of these does is finally going to grow into her gangly legs, have a coming out party, and entice a stud buck to cross the fence and flirt under one of my tree stands. But that moment hasn’t come, and I’m starting to wonder if it ever will.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, they say, so this year I’m pulling out all the stops. I’ve decided that I don’t need a land manager to improve the habitat I hunt or a pro-staffer to tweak my stand setup. I need a talk show host to stage a full-blown makeover. I need a team of whitetail stylists to descend upon my neck of the woods and gussy up these ugly does. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, the whole kit and caboodle. Short of that, I’m afraid it’s just going to be more of the same.
Anybody got Oprah’s number?