Definition of a “Good Hunter”

27 Aug

Please excuse me while I rant:

I was scrolling through my social media feeds last week and noticed a comment about a particular hunting personality being a “good hunter”. I’ve always asked myself what makes a good hunter, so I made sure to tune in to their TV show this week to see how good of a hunter they actually were. The show opened up with them pulling up to an outfitter somewhere in Illinois for a four day hunt. I instantly went to the outfitters website and noticed that a 5 day hunt cost $3500. There was a particular part in the show where the outfitter was flipping through trail cameras pictures showing the host of the show a 160″ class buck was in the area and that a particular stand location had been saved specifically for them. Over the course of the four day hunt the hunter sat in two different stand locations and passed several young deer before shooting the 160″ buck that was talked about at the beginning of the show on the morning of the 4th day. The shot was good and the buck ended up expiring on camera. After the hunter thanked Jesus, his broadhead sponsor, and the outfitter, he mentioned that he and his cameraman had “busted their butts” working for this deer. This guy didn’t hang one treestand, didn’t trim one shooting lane, and didn’t even check one trail camera. Basically showed up, sat all day in a pre-hung treestand, and waited. I became frustrated and ended up shutting off the T.V. before the show was over.


By my own definition I am NOT a good hunter.

By my own definition I am NOT a good hunter.


The next thing I did was look up “hunter” in the dictionary. The definitions were pretty general and didn’t go in to any details. “a person who hunts wild animals”  was in several of the definitions. Based on that definition alone that rules out anyone that kills an animal in a high-fence setting.  As we all know high-fence operations are a hot topic of discussion among the hunting community. Straight up, the term “hunting” should in no way be connected with any high-fence operation.

I feel I have a more traditional view of what a hunter is. To be honest, when I hear the word “hunter” the first thing that pops in my head is an animal. Whether a snake, alligator, owl, or lion, they are all consistent hunters that kill to survive. Early humans, and even those who settled this country needed to hunt to survive. In today’s world we don’t need to hunt to survive. Now, hunting is a choice. On top of that, the hunting industry has turned hunting in to a “big dick contest” whereby those who kill deer with the biggest racks are deemed great hunters. This is untrue on so many levels. In sports we can compare athletes to each other based on their statistics in a game where rules dictate the game. There’s no “rules” in hunting, meaning not everyone is on the same playing field. Guys and gals who hunt on high pressure public land in Michigan or Pennsylvania will have a hard time killing a mature whitetail with a huge rack as opposed to a private land hunter in Iowa. Just because someone kills a 200″ buck doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Lets talk quantity. If we are going to base whether or not someone is a good hunter on the number of deer they have killed then we have to discuss deer populations in different states and how many deer a hunter is allowed to kill in a year in those states. Again, we’re not comparing hunters on the same playing field so how can we determine if someone is a good hunter?

If I had to put myself in a category I guess would fall on the “Trophy Hunter” side of the fence. However, most of us who hear the word “trophy” associate it with big racks or the Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett clubs. With that said, if you are making your decision based on whether or not the deer is mature, I feel, you are still a trophy hunter due to being selective on the animals you are hunting. Playing devils advocate, if you fall under the “if it’s brown it’s down” category and live in an area with a high deer population, you have a good chance of killing something based purely on statistics. Again, what are we comparing? There’s too many variables.

I’m not even going to jump in to the bow vs. gun arena, I’d probably get death threats.

So what are the characteristics of a “good hunter”? In my opinion, they are consistently meeting their season goals. If they want to chase antler size and are consistently killing deer in an environment that they control and do the work themselves to increase opportunities… that’s a good hunter. On the other hand, if their goal is to fill the freezer, and they accomplish that goal… that’s a good hunter. As we all know determining whether or not a hunter is successful is completely up to the individual who is doing the hunting and setting the goals. You and I don’t get to label them. Another thing I feel makes someone a good hunter is if they are able to go somewhere they have never been before, whether that be a new state or a new property, and continue their success using the skills they have acquired over their lifetime of hunting. From an ethics standpoint, following the proper rules and regulation of the state as well as other unwritten rules of the field can be attributes of a good hunter. It’s not all necessarily about the kill.

I guess the point I’m trying to get across is that there are so many opinions in hunting (and that’s your right to have them) that we have started placing labels on ourselves dividing us rather than uniting us. Gun hunter vs. bow hunters. Trophy hunters vs. meat hunters. Good hunters vs. bad hunters. We are all hunters, and that’s something to be proud of. Unless you are an unethical hunter, don’t be proud of that.

Rant over.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about what makes someone a good hunter. Please post you comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Dan (DFW)

34 Responses to “Definition of a “Good Hunter””

  1. Bill Tesch August 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    I totally agree with you Dan, there are too many labels put on hunters now a days. I also agree on a general term that a so called “good” hunter would be one that puts in the work, ie. scouting and finding the deer, learning everything thing they can about the area they are hunting and the deer in that area, hanging stands, practicing shooting whether it be bow or gun so they are confident in putting a kill shot on the animals imal they are hunting and doing so in a legal and ethical way. That is what would make a “good” hunter in my opinion, whether it be a trophy or meater hunter the same.

  2. Mark August 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    Great post…..we are definitely more divided as hunters than we should be because of these very things. I wish that we could focus more on what we agree over and less on those topics that might be areas of disagreement.

    There is no way that whitetail hunters as a whole will ever see eye to eye on the topics you’ve discussed, but we should all be able to celebrate with each other’s victories, even though we might disagree.

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      Great point Mark, thanks for reading!

  3. Phil August 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Great points throughout, Dan. Agree on all fronts.

    I do however think it’s fair (and sometimes fun) to compare hunters when it comes to skill sets, even though it’s pretty subjective. For example, when you’re hunting with someone and walking out to stands on a dirt road, you notice some guys are really good at walking quietly. Some guys are excellent callers, other guys can drive tacks with their bows at 40 yards while leaning on their harness at a 45 degree angle.

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      Harmless competition with friends is always fun! Thanks for reading!

  4. Jay Carpenter August 27, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Nice read. As usual you nailed it. Keep up the good work man.

  5. Dave Keling August 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I think you have some very good points. I agree that we all need to come together as hunters and fight for our rights to hunt. There are to many groups out there that are trying to take away the right o hunt.
    The way I look at the good vs. bad hunter is, if the the hunter sets goal and meets those goals we should be happy for them. I live in Iowa and hunt on private property, but a very small property. I was lucky enough to shoot a 164″ deer last year. Something I thought would never happen. I work with the public in a sporting goods store and talk to many hunters. As hunters do, we talk about our hunts and show pictures of our “trophies”. The one thing I make sure to do is congratulate them and pump them up on their hunting season. Because a trophy to one person might not be to another. The only thing that matters is said person is happy and excited about what they have been able to do, and we should be happy with them!

  6. Charles Crowe August 27, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this Dan. So much of what we see these days on TV is product pushing and guys so eager to make a TV show they make poor shots and poor choices as hunters. A good hunter to me is someone who works hard at being good at what they do when it comes to hunting their prey. That can be interpreted in so many ways and it is meant to. For the purpose of the conversation I will mostly talk bowhunting. A hunter can go to an outfitter and still work his tail off to get close, making that successful shot is the next step in being a good hunter. Someone who has property, runs trail cameras and puts their blood, sweat and tears into it deserve all my respect. Doing all of that and then placing the stands in the right spots to be successful is the next step. Again, making that good shot or not is where it all comes together. A good hunter doesn’t have to make a kill if that shot isn’t there to their standards. That leads us to being an ethical hunter as well.

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      Valid point, Charles. Thanks for reading.

  7. Matt d August 27, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Great stuff – could not agree more.

    a good hunter

  8. Nic DiFilippo August 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Great article Dan- Hope all is good

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

      Same to you Nic. Good luck to you this season!

  9. Al VonGunden August 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Nailed it!

  10. John bischoff August 27, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Well said Dan! I feel like being an bad hunter in Michigan would make me a good hunter in any other state! Keep up the writing, on a side note I just watched your you tube video with shipwreck last night and really enjoyed it. That had to be heart wrenching though.

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks for reading. Yeah, Shipwreck changed my life for sure.

  11. Dave Gough August 27, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    I agree with you and would add that the ethics is probably the most important thing in today’s climate. Sharing is something I feel makes a good hunter as well and I don’t mean just the meat. Sharing your time with new hunter a child or even taking the time to help non-hunters understand the importance of hunting is a huge part of being a good hunter. Have a safe season.

    • Dan Johnson August 27, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

      Great points, Dave! Good luck this season.

  12. Buddy Engelken August 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Dan, I am new to your blog but have been following you on facebook for a while. I agree with this post and see “good hunter/ bad hunter” tags when i talk with friends. its not about the size its about the hunt. i look at my season as a chess match, and how can i better my hunting experience. i may not shoot the biggest deer but i do enjoy my hunts and know that the work i put into the field pays off when i release my arrow. thanks for the article. i look forward to reading more.

  13. Brian August 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    I think the last statement sums up my feelings on the subject. We should celebrate each success; as long as we are not lumping the ethical and unethical hunter In the same category. There does need to be some division between hunters. unethical/ illegal hunters need to be called out when the FACTS prove to be unethical. We can’t just say all hunters need to stick together, because not all hunters are ethical and legal.

  14. Jake Ehlinger August 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    I agree with your assessment completely Dan, the size, score and numbers of big deer the hunting shows plaster on the screen these days is insulting to those that work hard, improve the habitat and actually put in their time for a rare opportunity for the target deer they are hunting.

    Great article, keep up the great work.

  15. Jeff Nelson August 28, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    I like going to shoes or classics and seeing all the guys strutting around in a $10 Tshirt and $150 jeans! It’s fun to talk to the humble bow hunters and watch the “industry” guys.
    Good read for sure!!!

  16. Taylor Renaudette August 28, 2015 at 3:31 am #

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Great stuff, keep up the good work!

  17. Justin Roberts August 28, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    This article is spot on. I belong to a couple hunting pages on Face book and you always see hunters poorly scrutinizing other hunters kills. They post up a pic of a harvest rather a small buck or a Doe that they’re proud of. They have hard work and dedication that they put into that harvest. Then you get people who comment negative things and talk poorly of the size or immaturity of their harvest. It bugs the crap out of me because like you said you have no idea what that person went through to take that harvest and they may have put in 3 times the work of someone who got lucky enough to take a high scoring buck. When ever we see a harvest that someone is obviously proud of we should always congratulate that person rather then pick their harvest apart. We catch enough grief from anti hunters/gun owners that we shouldn’t need to defend ourselves from ourselves when we can band together and defend our rights as gun/bow owners and hunters. The other thing that bugs me is when we as hunters judge each other by the weapon of choice . Who cares if someone used a gun , bow or cross bow or even hunting dogs for that matter. If its legal in your state there is a reason its legal in your state and as long as you are fowling that books guide lines that is handed out to you in every state when you purchase your hunting licenses then I say go for it and do your best to succeed at it. Happy hunting everyone the season is starting to kickoff across the country.

    • Dan Johnson August 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      Justin, thanks for reading… good luck this season as well.

  18. Kyler R August 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

    Thank you for writing this! You’ve got hunters, then you’ve got actors making television. You know in the bible it talks about Nimrod, who did not hunt according to the Lord. I feel like that’s what we have all over our television screens, Nimrods shooting pet deer in front of a camera and we call it hunting.

  19. Owen Ogden August 29, 2015 at 12:39 am #

    Great article Dan !

  20. Josh Young August 29, 2015 at 3:16 am #

    Dan, I agree with your assessment. I’m new to the Wired to Hunt podcast and the NFC. You guys are doing great work. The details you and Mark get into are just what I’ve been looking for…good luck this season.

  21. Joseph V Lathrop August 29, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    I think in your Wrong in that we cant realy know what a Good hunter is and i think in truth you answered what it was in your Closing Statement. a Good Hunter IS an Ethical Hunter so i Will Pose this Question now. What Make one a Ethical Hunter.

Leave a Reply