What Makes a Trophy?

By Seth Gibson, Water Resources Coordinator

Michigan deer season is full swing. In addition to traditional buck poles, social media has been full of pictures of everyone’s harvest. It’s impossible to look at all the pictures and not compare your own trophy to all of those posted on the various hunting pages. It’s even more difficult to find a post without at least one hunter bragging about how they would’ve passed on taking the deer because it was not what they would consider a “trophy”.  Having only harvested three deer, I wasn’t sure what my definition of a “trophy” was. It finally became clear to me a few weekends ago when I got to be a part of a hunt I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Those that know me well know that my free time in the fall is primarily spent in the duck blind with the “bluebird” days set aside for time in the tree stand. As such, I elected to only purchase a single buck tag this season and was fortunate enough fill it opening day on an eleven point (my biggest buck!). I was ecstatic that I had bagged my “trophy” though my season had ended on the same sit that it began. This made for a strange ride up to deer camp in northern Michigan with no additional tags to fill and a freezer full of venison at home, though I was still excited for the long weekend ahead and the good food, good company, and, of course, good stories.

With the pressure to get a deer gone, I elected to spend my time in the stand trying to film someone else’s successful hunt. Saturday evening, I set out towards a tri-pod stand on the back of the property with my long-time hunting and fishing buddy, Chad, leaving the heated box blind for his dad and his grandpa to sit in. We sat for a while, just enjoying the scenery, when two does walked into our clearing. It was just about the time that I was daydreaming about a Booner stepping out from behind them that the unmistakable sound of a gunshot rang through the woods from a clearing towards the front of the property. Even before the text from his dad came through confirming our guess, Chad looked and me and whispered, “Grandpa got it done.”

We continued our sit until just before dark, then began making our way towards the field that the other two had sat over. The quad was already loaded down with gear by the time we reached the box blind and all that was left to do was load up the deer that had been dropped exactly where it had previously stood nibbling on the food plot. Seeming like no big deal at the time, Chad and I quickly got the doe loaded and strapped down for the short ride home. It wasn’t until I saw the quad pulling away with Grandpa and his deer on the back that I began to fully appreciate what I had just been a part of. You see there was a point last year that we weren’t sure if Grandpa would be able to return home due to complications with his health, and hunting this year definitely seemed out of the question. As I approached Chad and the rest of his family gathered around Grandpa and his deer, seeing the smiles on all of their faces left no doubt in my mind about the doe that had just been harvested.

Congrats on your trophy Grandpa Wasco.

Tom Wasco and his doe. (Photo by Chad Wasco, 2019)