What makes a Trophy?

Charly Green discusses what Trophy hunting means to him.

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I have been labelled as a `trophy hunter` in the past but this is wholly inaccurate. The term conjures up an image of a smug hunter posing with his ego-inflating kill in a manner which most reasonable people would find upsetting. Whilst I do take a few medal quality animals each year, they are vastly outnumbered by females, youngsters and cull males. Accordingly I take offence at being called an indiscriminate killer only seeking heads for the wall. Good trophies are a by-product of good herd management and they can either be sold to visiting hunters to cover costs or taken by the resident stalker as a perk of the job.

But what makes a true trophy? The Oxford dictionary defines a trophy as:

`A souvenir of an achievement, especially a part of an animal taken when hunting'. 

tr1250So by this definition any animal, part of an animal or even just a photograph of it can be cherished as a trophy. A casual observer might pass over the particular object without comment, not deeming it worthy of notice or praise; however the owner has chosen to keep it in memory of that particular hunt. This type of trophy is often the one which holds the most interesting story of a hunter’s struggle against the odds in order to gain success.

On my own walls I have many heads which I would proudly to exhibit as being representative of the best of each species; impressive stags and bucks that have had their day and been replaced by their progeny in the population. I like nothing more than to cast my eye across them and re-live the hunt, the shot scenario and to once again feel the elation of success.

 Tr3250Amongst these heads and mounts are some hidden gems. My first roe buck, no great weight but very symmetrical and with nice pearling, is worth very little to anyone but to me he’s worth a fortune. An antlered roe doe, far more valuable than the biggest gold medal buck, is often passed over as `just a button buck`. Abnormal roe bucks with twists and kinks and extra tines, all below the `trophy` categories but treasured none the less. . I have kept summer skins, damaged lower legs and in fact anything that holds either a memory or an educational point for others.

(Above: A rare example of an antlered Doe). 

 There are very few who hunt purely for meat just as there are very few who hunt only for trophies, so we are all trophy hunters to some degree. Foremost though, we are deer managers and should take pride in an ethical hunt which results in a clean shot and a successful end

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If you are lucky enough to be invited to view a fellow hunters collection ask which trophies are their most prized you may learn something from the owner’s experiences. We are never too old to learn but pride can stand in the way. I have asked questions of the youngest stalkers and learnt from their tales; admittedly the lesson is often what not to do but occasionally a pearl of wisdom will be forthcoming.

We never stop learning about nature and the simplest things can be fascinating. This summer whilst cutting weed on the river Avon I was truly privileged to witness a mole swim a full twenty yards across stream. He was like a miniature paddle steamer, going like the clappers and without a bead of water on his back. It was something I had never imagined possible and, had I not seen it with my own eyes, would have discounted it as myth.

We need to continue to manage deer and other species with a traditional cross-sectional policy in order to retain our herds in sustainable numbers for future generations to enjoy. We also need to continue to educate the general public about the necessity of this so that we can gradually change the preconceptions that are held by many. Being labelled as a trophy hunter is unfair but to take a trophy in whatever form is part and parcel of good management and demonstrates a healthy respect for our quarry.

Charly Green can be contacted at: www.shavesgreen.com 07706 395979 or 02380 282941

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