“We all hunt for meat, trophies, sport, and many more reasons that are much harder to define. So as you read through this issue, I hope those played-out lines of division begin to dissolve and are replaced by more useful definitions of why we each paddle out into our own frozen marshes.” —Alex Robinson, Editor-in-Chief
Low success rates and crowded public forests be damned. For Midwestern deer hunters, a Colorado bull elk is still the most accessible and coveted trophy of all. “If I hunted in Colorado for six seasons and killed one bull, I’d be on par with the average. Still, the number of nonresident hunters ticks up each year,” writes Robinson. This is the story of one Minnesotan’s willingness to hike 10,000 feet, hunt hard, and experience the failures and successes of one of the most elusive, yet still attainable, Western hunts out there.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
Trophy hunting helped save North America’s wildlife, but somewhere along the way it earned a bad reputation. These days, many hunters tend to celebrate meat hunting and distance themselves from trophy hunting. In Head & Horns, Outdoor Life contributor, Christine Peterson explores why this is, and what role trophy hunting plays in our future. Meanwhile, in Trouble on the Tundra, Alaska resident and Outdoor Life Staff Writer, Tyler Freel, digs into the controversy of a federal caribou unit that could close to all but hyper-local hunters. Which is also a perfect example of why it’s not possible to separate meat hunters from trophy hunters.
Curtis LeDue’s family hunted and fished in the Yukon long before this was a Canadian territory, before Ross River got a hockey rink or a government-run hospital, and before the village was nicknamed “Ross Vegas.” Like many of the Kaska Tribe, LeDue has a foot in both the modern and ancient worlds, which his work as a moose guide helps him maintain. Hunting Editor Andrew McKean traversed the Pelly Mountains with LeDue for some hard hunting for moose.
For a typical whitetail buck to be entered in the Boone and Crockett Club records, the minimum score is 160 inches; for a Coues deer, it’s 100. Despite their desert range, the deer are hard to spot and harder to get close to. “It doesn’t matter that Coues deer are tiny whitetails with undersized antlers. The physical and mental challenge of hunting mature desert bucks isn’t just worth it—it’s the whole point,” writes Senior Deputy Editor Natalie Krebs, who traveled to the Arizona-Mexico border in pursuit of these evasive bucks.