I like antlers as much as the next guy, but when I hear someone putting too much emphasis on large bucks or bulls, I can't help but think that the does and cows are getting a bad rap on many levels.
For example, I have lost count of how many times a cagey old whitetail doe has busted me and prevented me from shooting a buck — same with cow elk and cow moose. I even had a cow caribou spook once when she spotted me.
When she bolted, so did the caribou bull that was following her. The reverse has rarely been an issue. In fact, I can't remember a time when I was trying to shoot a doe or cow and a bull or buck ruined it. Coincidence? I think not. My theory is that it's often much more difficult to harvest a mature doe or cow then a male anything.
Therefore, it's my opinion that bowhunters who are efficient enough to consistently harvest does and cows are better hunters. I have not reached this conclusion without a lot of research. Here are some of the facts that I have compiled on the subject.
FACT — It is the female whitetail, mule deer, elk, moose and caribou, to name a few, that raise the young fawns or calves. So it's the female that teaches the young to survive, and how to avoid predators. Every single male animal learned these skills from his mother.
FACT — Females are smarter than males. This is true in every species, including our own. My wife constantly reminds me of this, so it must be true. To prove this, if you're a male and married, or have a girlfriend, just ask her if you are the smarter one in the relationship. After they are done laughing, they will back my research by explaining why you are not. If you are reading this and are a female, and have either a husband or a boyfriend, my research indicates that you will undoubtedly agree with me. If you don't identify yourself as male or female, I don't have any research on you.
FACT — For the table, does and cows are usually more tender and flavorful than bucks or bulls — even more so during the rut, when the males are run down and taste gamier. If egos are put aside, I'm sure if you don't already agree with me, you are probably on the verge of switching your whole mindset on what trophies baldies truly are.
If I have not swayed you yet, here is some additional information I have researched that you should consider. This should help convince any remaining skeptics.
Just consider all the scents on the market. Conquest, Tink's, Wildlife Research Center, Code Blue and Hunters Specialties, to name a few of my favorites, all have scents. These scents are all designed to bring in the male species.
There are female scents that are used to bring in males, and there are also male scents and gland lures that are used to bring in the bucks and bulls. Does and cows only occasionally come in to scents, but I have had bucks and bulls lick, and even urinate, in areas where I have used Conquest's scents.
If that's not proof of how much smarter the female of the species is, then consider decoys. There are whitetail decoys that look just like both does and bucks. Does generally ignore them, but I have had bucks come in to fight my buck decoy, and I've even had bucks knock over my doe decoy in an attempt to breed it. But honestly, I have NEVER seen a doe try to breed a buck decoy!
Elk and moose decoys? Same story. Cows may look at them, but they rarely approach my decoy. Whereas I have had bull elk run right up to my Montana Decoy elk, and it's only two-dimensional!
If you consider these facts, I am confident you will agree that the female game species are much more challenging to hunt, and are therefore a better trophy.
In the future, I hope to hear fewer people boasting about the large buck or bull they harvested, and more people bragging instead about their trophy does and cows. I am considering approaching the Pope & Young Club with a proposal to add females to the record book.
I think weight, ear length, height to the shoulder, and distance from the corner of the eye to the end of the nose would be a fair way to gauge the status of a female trophy.
I attempted this method on my wife, and found her quite disagreeable. She also threatened me with a scoring method I would not fare so well at, so I will stick with animals. (Note: I am currently researching a way to prove why jake turkeys are more impressive trophies than mature gobblers.)
Editor's Note: The views expressed in this column, particularly those pertaining to human females, are strictly those of the author, and do not reflect the views and opinions of the rest of the Bowhunter staff on this subject. Mostly.