I am no Fred Bear. When it comes to bowhunting, I could not carry the man’s jockstrap. But for the last 40 years I have hunted and killed deer according to Fred’s mantra.
I suppose that is why it makes me uncomfortable and a bit ashamed to witness an episode like this, either in person in the woods or on YouTube or TV: A fellow shoots a buck and watches it topple over. Grinning, he raises his arms high into the air, balls his fists and starts hollering, “He’s down, he’s down,” This is typically accompanied with fist-pumping, strutting and more yelling. There are many twists to the dead-deer celebration, but you get my drift.
Notice I said “fellow.” Only guys are prone to act out like this. Females are more thoughtful and subdued after the kill, better sportswomen in this respect.
Before you get the wrong idea, let me assure you I am not some stick-in-the-mud old fogy looking to spoil your fun. But I have been doing this a long, long time. I have hunted with scores of people, have seen hundreds of bucks killed and have seen all sorts of after-the-shot emotions and displays. I can say unequivocally that hollering and strutting over a dead deer like you just scored a TD in the Super Bowl is not good look for any hunter, and it does not portray our sport in a positive way.
When you shoot and kill a buck, you are excited and happy, I get it, and you should be. But no need to party. Let me add there is never a good time to bark, “He’s down!” like some people still inexplicably do. (Guys have seen “celebrities” do it on TV so they do it too.) “He’s down!” is one of the most derogatory terms in deer hunting. Please never say that again.
For what it is worth, do something like this on your next kill.
Walk to your buck, 6-pointer or big 10, and look him over. Magnificent! Kneel and smooth his still-warm hide. Wrap your hands around those wonderful antlers. Smile. If you feel a touch of sadness, maybe a tear, that is all right. That is how hunting and killing an animal is supposed to feel.
If you’re with a friend, give a quick hug and a handshake. A low-key high-five or fist bump is okay, but do overdo it.
There will be fine days this fall and next when many of us shoot and kill a buck. We’ll each deal with it in his or her own way. Just remember, in the end all that really matters is respect for the game pursued.