The Evolution Of Hunters and Their Trophies

The Evolution Of Hunters and Their Trophies

Story by Tom Claycomb III

I remember 35 years ago I was taking a Hunters Safety course so I could go elk hunting in Colorado. In the course they taught us that you go through a series of four stages as a hunter. I notice now that the internet experts have added one more stage and now say that you go through five stages.


  1. Shooting Stage
  2. Limiting-Out Stage
  3. Trophy Stage
  4. Method Stage
  5. Sportsman’s Stage (They used to refer to this one as the Mentor level)

On your first deer hunt you just wanted to shoot a buck. When I was a kid, there weren’t many doe hunting opportunities. — at least not that I knew of.  In fact, as a six year old kid the only opportunities I was aware were day hunts around Llano which cost $20.00.  However, on all of the ranches we hunted on, shooting does was looked down upon.

Then somewhere around my college days, game management practices propagated. They preached harvesting the barren does. They were eating food that fawn producing does could have used. Although most of the doe I saw harvested were not barren.

Wildlife Biologists started giving out recommendations and the big ranch down by Sonora that we hunted on implemented their recommendations. Harvesting barren does and shooting small scraggly horned bucks to get them out of the gene pool was the new mindset.

If nothing else, the above philosophy opened the doors for a lot more opportunities for kids to fill a tag. When I was a aspiring young hunter you had to hunt hard down by D’Hanis to get a buck. I hunted hard for three to four years to finally get my first buck at 12 years old.

Now let’s move into the limiting out stage. After you shot your first dove, it wasn’t long before you had to get your limit to be Joe Cool. Right?

The next stage is to harvest a trophy.  That is the next goal to accomplish. As the harvest bar is raised so too is the size of the buck’s antlers that is harvested.

Then one day the challenge of the same old, same old sets in and the method or hunting discipline an animal is harvested takes priority . I know I did. I’ve shot big game with rifles, bows, airguns (Umarex .50 Hammer), Umarex Air Sabre, pistols, shotguns and black powder rifles. There’s something unique and challenging about hunting with weapons with a shorter effective range.

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