Passing on the shot

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TexasHunter83
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Passing on the shot

Postby TexasHunter83 » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:43 am

I have a, what may turn out to be retarded, question. Why do people pass on the opportunity to shoot a "shooter" buck? I've seen and heard people give hunting reports where they aren't seeing ANY deer. Then they finally catch sight of a shooter and pass on it because it's not the one they want. Then they come home with nothing. I'm fairly new to the drawing system, but do you get a refund if you don't fill the tag? I was under the impression that when you draw the tag, you pay for it whether you harvest or not. I realize there are probably situations where you may see a shooter the first day but you pass because you've got 8 more days to hunt, and might find a bigger one. But I don't understand why there are those who are paying big money for an out-of-state hunt, then not filling their tag because they didn't find one with huge horns. They'll say, "I saw a ton of smaller ones, just not a big one..." This is a more common practice in Texas because our deer season is 2 months long, and in many counties you can kill more than one buck, but I don't understand the practice when you're paying a good chunk of change to harvest an animal.

I've made up my mind that, when I go, I'm going to fill my tag to the best of my ability. If I don't see that 30" trophy I was looking for I'm going to, at least, fill my tag on a smaller buck and get some meat for the year. I have to pay for the tag anyway right? Why spend all of that money on a tag and trip to come home with nothing? Maybe I'm looking at this wrong, and maybe it's my inexperience with out-of-state hunts, but I just don't see the logic in it.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against just going and enjoying the camping experience with friends and family. And I'm not one of these people that has to kill something when I go hunting. But if I want to just go and camp, I'm not going to purchase a $350 tag. If I purchase a $350 tag, I'll hunt for the big ones, but not be overly "picky" as to not harvest any meat for the freezer. I'm not intending to start a war on here, and I have nothing personal against those who do this (because you can do whatever you want with your money), but am just curious as to why this is seems to be such a common occurance. Keep in mind I'm not talking about those hunts where you catch rare glimpses of deer, or none at all. I'm talking about those hunts where you have them in your sights and choose not to shoot.

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby kchesley » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:57 am

There are going to be many different opinions on this but mine is that I do first look for a big buck opening day or a few days into it and if I see smaller bucks I do like to pass on them to allow them to get bigger. I have never purchased an out of state tag so my tag is relatively cheap so I am not totally bummed if I don't fill it. I Shot a decent 3 by 3 last year on the last day of the hunt after passing on a really small 2 by 2 (horns were barely longer than his ears). I could not bring myself to shoot him because I wanted to allow him to get bigger. My hunt is more of enjoying being out with freinds or family and if I come home empty handed oh well but like I said my tag is a $35 tag and I can deal with tag soup although meat tastes a bit better. Just my 2 cents

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby TexasHunter83 » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:04 am

kchesley wrote:There are going to be many different opinions on this but mine is that I do first look for a big buck opening day or a few days into it and if I see smaller bucks I do like to pass on them to allow them to get bigger. I have never purchased an out of state tag so my tag is relatively cheap so I am not totally bummed if I don't fill it. I Shot a decent 3 by 3 last year on the last day of the hunt after passing on a really small 2 by 2 (horns were barely longer than his ears). I could not bring myself to shoot him because I wanted to allow him to get bigger. My hunt is more of enjoying being out with freinds or family and if I come home empty handed oh well but like I said my tag is a $35 tag and I can deal with tag soup although meat tastes a bit better. Just my 2 cents


I can understand this scenario. I pass on bucks here in Texas because the our license is cheap and you can hunt deer for 2 months. We can purchase one $60 license and hunt every animal under the sun. I can also understand not shooting young ones. And like you said, passing on a shot early in the hunt makes sense if you're looking for bigger and you happen to be seeing plenty of deer. There is also that element of simply making the mistake to not shoot when you should have; then going home empty handed. It just seems like I've just read alot of reports from guys who are saying they hunted hard for days without seeing anything at all. Then they see a shooter buck the last day or two and decide to pass because it's not "the one." I guess maybe hunting, for me, isn't necessarily all about ONLY hunting the big ones. Don't get me wrong, I DO hunt for the big ones as well, but I don't limit my options to the big ones. I like the hunt in general. I suppose it's possible I might be eating my own words next November...lol

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby kchesley » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:19 am

True, true. I will always shoot a "shooter buck" but if the horns are barely longer than the ears I tend to not be able to squeeze the trigger to allow them to get bigger even though there is the possibility that someone else will. I am not a "Trophy" hunter but like to try to get one worthy of bragging about so to speak. I finally got an elk this year worthy of getting mounted so now I need to get a good muley worthy of a mount next year (I didn't draw out this year). But if a shooter buck is spotted I will definately take. Wish our hunt was 2 months long lol. Alot of time to see alot of deer.

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby TexasHunter83 » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:31 am

kchesley wrote:True, true. I will always shoot a "shooter buck" but if the horns are barely longer than the ears I tend to not be able to squeeze the trigger to allow them to get bigger even though there is the possibility that someone else will. I am not a "Trophy" hunter but like to try to get one worthy of bragging about so to speak. I finally got an elk this year worthy of getting mounted so now I need to get a good muley worthy of a mount next year (I didn't draw out this year). But if a shooter buck is spotted I will definately take. Wish our hunt was 2 months long lol. Alot of time to see alot of deer.


Congrats on your elk! I hope to hunt them some day. I'm kind of working my way up to it. I've got a good Whitetail and a Pronghorn on the wall at home. I'd like to get a nice Muley up there and eventually an elk. I might try to hit up some Axis Deer around the Texas Hill Country before I elk hunt though. We'll see.

Yeah 2 months is a good amount of time to hunt. You can hunt pigs and some other small (varmit) game year-round. Amazingly enough, even with that amount of time, there are lot of hunters (like myself) who can't find places to hunt. I think 97% of Texas land is private land; so you either have to pay good money for a private lease, hire an outfitter, or just happen to know someone that let's you hunt. Every now and then I get lucky and hunt with a friend, or will be able to fill a management tag for someone. My nice buck, on the wall, I actually got to kill on a place I was hunting for free. I killed it the first year I hunted the lease. The next year the landowner let another hunter on, who screwed it up for everyone. He killed everything he saw and the landowner finally said that NO ONE was going to be hunting the property; so needless to say I have no where to hunt deer right now. It's been bad because I love it so much and I think I'm starting to have withdrawals. I've been supplementing by hunting pigs and geese on my father-in-laws farmland... :thumb

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby kchesley » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:36 am

I understand that. My wife is in the Air Force and we were stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio for 4 years. I didn't hunt any of those 4 years due to I had no clue where to go and didn't know anyone who had land I could hunt. I could not wait to move back to Utah. Good posts and good luck in your future hunts. (Oh and thanks for the congrats on my elk) That was my main goal this year because I prefer elk meat over deer meat anyday. In some hunters eyes here in Utah they would pass on him looking for a bigger bull but in my eyes to be able to harvest a good looking 6 by 6 for my first bull or any bull thereafter I was stoked.

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby TexasHunter83 » Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:42 am

kchesley wrote:I understand that. My wife is in the Air Force and we were stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio for 4 years. I didn't hunt any of those 4 years due to I had no clue where to go and didn't know anyone who had land I could hunt. I could not wait to move back to Utah. Good posts and good luck in your future hunts. (Oh and thanks for the congrats on my elk) That was my main goal this year because I prefer elk meat over deer meat anyday. In some hunters eyes here in Utah they would pass on him looking for a bigger bull but in my eyes to be able to harvest a good looking 6 by 6 for my first bull or any bull thereafter I was stoked.


I couldn't handle not hunting for 4 years. I'd lose my mind...lol I've never head Elk meat but heard it's really good. Maybe one day...Good luck to you as well! And tell your wife thanks for serving!

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby ABert » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:20 pm

The definition of a "shooter" buck varies from hunter to hunter. For me, a shooter buck is one I do not have to put optics on in order to tell if it is a buck.

We hunted the 3rd season in CO this year with the weather way too warm. I saw tons of deer but only three bucks. Passed on a little fork horn and spike in the first couple of days. Finally came across a shooter buck...

for about 2 seconds in the timber. During that time span the buck went behind a rock and reappeared. Something had spooked the buck and it was moving along fairly decently. I had the time to put the crosshair on him but didn't pull the trigger. Not because I didn't want to but because it would have been a low percentage shot.

I know, not quite what you were looking for, but for myself I'll take a shooter buck on the first day just as well on the last day.
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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby bh107 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:56 am

The definition of a "shooter" is always changing for me. Personally I would like to take a mature deer, and leave the smaller ones to get bigger. As the hunt goes on the I'll sometimes shoot a smaller deer, but it depends on if we have other deer in camp as well. It's not only about the meat in the freezer, and since we all share anyways when we don't all tag out it isnt a big deal.

Another thing for us hunting in Colorado is that we chose to have the deer processed in town before bringing it home. In the past we would just bring the deer home whole and butcher it, but most western states now have laws requiring the meat to be completely de-boned before transport over state lines. So now its easier to just have it done there and have it packaged, frozen, and ready to pick up on our way out of town. That of course adds more cost to harvesting a deer.

Last year I passed on the deer I shot 2 times before finally taking him the 5th day. I saw him opening morning, the second day, and then finally again the day I shot him. He was a big bodied 3x3 that finally walked by me at 75 yards the last time and I decided to take him. I saw probably a dozen smaller deer in those 5 days as well.

Another year I shot a smaller deer only to regret it. I think I was about 18 and had missed a nice buck opening day, only to later find out my scope had been jarred and I couldn't hit a paper plate at 50 yards. I did not see any other nice bucks for the next few days, but my dad ended up getting a good buck. On day 4 of the hunt we did a push and I was posted at the bottom, with a different rifle. I few does got pushed out, and then a big forky which I decided to take. I dropped him in his tracks in the clearing at 200 yards. There was still one other hunter posted so I unloaded my rifle and stayed put waiting for the pushers to make their way through. Sure enough less than 5 minutes later a huge 4x4 comes down the same trail and nearly steps on my down deer. My tag was filled and I couldn't do anything about it, and the other hunter never saw it. That deer still haunts me to this day!

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Re: Passing on the shot

Postby TexasHunter83 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:25 pm

ABert wrote:The definition of a "shooter" buck varies from hunter to hunter. For me, a shooter buck is one I do not have to put optics on in order to tell if it is a buck.

We hunted the 3rd season in CO this year with the weather way too warm. I saw tons of deer but only three bucks. Passed on a little fork horn and spike in the first couple of days. Finally came across a shooter buck...

for about 2 seconds in the timber. During that time span the buck went behind a rock and reappeared. Something had spooked the buck and it was moving along fairly decently. I had the time to put the crosshair on him but didn't pull the trigger. Not because I didn't want to but because it would have been a low percentage shot.

I know, not quite what you were looking for, but for myself I'll take a shooter buck on the first day just as well on the last day.


Makes perfect sense to me. I've also heard the saying about taking a shooter on the first day that you wouldn't pass up on the last... And I can certainly understand passing on a shot because of the low outcome of success; or fear for wounding the animal.


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