Fan Mail: Hunting for Meat

Wooden Fence- Fan Mail

       I recently received an unsigned piece of fan mail regarding a Field Journal Entry that I made on 12/15/2007 that I felt obligated to reply to. Since it was unsigned and there was no return address, only the postmark, I felt obligated to respond in an effort to reach the sender with my response. If you are out there, Unsigned, I hope you see this reply to you commentary.Young buck alerted in the forest.

Dear HBM Editor – Saw your fall issue of the magazine and read the story about your Utah Mule Deer hunt. Seems pretty sad to me that a professional hunter like yourself had to kill a young buck instead of going after a adult one. I guess some hunters just have to do it the easy way. Maybe some day you will be able to go back and shoot a real buck instead of a bambi. Good luck, you obviously need it. Unsigned and postmarked from New York, NY

Dear Unsigned – You must be confusing me with Chuck Adams, it happens to me a dozen times a day! I believe that I am safe in saying that I have never have, nor ever will claim to be a “professional hunter”. Truth of the matter is, I would rather shoot a critter with the camera than with an arrow. I hunt mainly for meat and those that know me well and have hunted with me will verify that I am not much of a big buck hunter. As an old farm boy and just an average Joe, I believe that the bona fide value of an animal is in the quality of the cuisine that it provides for my guests and for my family when we are gathered around the kitchen table.

Hunter resting against a tree in the forestFortunately, I have been in this industry long enough to have had the privilege to meet a number of self-proclaimed “professional hunters” and “big game experts”, but when I go into the woods the only experts I run into are the very 4-legged critters that call that domain home. Now that is a classic example of expertise and professionalism since their very lives depend on it! Even though I am in my forty-seventh year of big game hunting and I have hunted all across the continent, I am still not confident enough (or foolish enough) to call myself an “expert” or a “professional” hunter because I learn something new and exciting every time I venture into the field. I leave those fanciful, inflated terms to those who seem to “need” self-affirmation. I hunt for my own personal enjoyment, at my own personal pace as well as for the spiritual intensity I get from just being in the wild and among all of the creatures that reside there. If that makes me a loser, while then here’s my sign: “L”!Some venison on the stove being cooked

As far as the Mule Deer hunt in Utah is concerned, I have no regrets and am extremely proud of the buck that I took with my crossbow. It didn’t have spots on its back so I can only assume that it was indeed an “adult” deer. The moment I released my arrow and it passed through that Mulie’s body, that animal became a part of me by deeply imprinting itself on my mind and on my very being. No amount of criticism, written or verbal, from anyone, can detract from the distinctive experience of that animal becoming the very first Mule Deer I’ve ever harvested and from becoming a part of my personal hunting history.

What’s more, given the same circumstances, I would do it all over again, not changing a single thing because when it was all over, I was excited, I was happy and I was very pleased about my handsome Mule Deer buck. Furthermore, it was a good clean kill with no suffering for the animal and my family and I have had some quality dining, thanks to that very special creature. From a financial perspective, no matter how I analyze it, having the sacred gift of this animal’s flesh and the memHunting partners take a moment to pose for a pictureories of the hunt is a much better deal than burning a $300 tag for lack of use and going home with an empty cooler. And that is exactly what would have happened, as I never did see what you would consider to be a trophy buck during my entire nine days on that mountaintop.

Just as important to me as taking the spike buck on this hunt, were the photos that were captured of my friends, their mountaintop and the many unique creatures that share it with them. I came home with well over a thousand photos of pure, unadulterated beauty, so in essence, once the deer was down, my hunting went on for the next six and a half days. As a matter of fact, I do believe that I value the series of photos I took of the Horned Lizard just as much as the buck that I shot with the bow. Is that wrong or right of me? Who cares! All I know is that I had an unforgettable experience in Utah with some quality people and the memories of that hunt will be with me as
long as I am able to form my thoughts into logical and coherent order. Perhaps even if and when those thoughts become scrambled, I will occasionally shout with glee, “I shot my first Mule Deer and it’s a handsome spiker!”

Young buck hiding in the bushes.The point is, Unsigned, that I wish only that you will venture forth into the great outdoors to do whatever your own thing might be and above all that you will be happy and proud of what you do. If it is killing the biggest Mule Deer buck in the world, I truly wish you good luck and the

best of hunting. But please, in the future, don’t waste your time trying to cast shame others for not living up to your personal standards of behavior and thought. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself, “As I busily march to the beat of my own drum, I don’t really give a rip what you think.”

Oh, and one more thing, and I could be wrong about this, but I bet another one of your personal prejudices is that you believe that the crossbow is the biggest threat to bowhunting today. You just seem to be that kind of a guy and guess how I feel about that!

Beautiful view of a sierra vista.A young doe grazes through the underbrush.



Beautiful view over a bumpy canyon


Meet Daniel J Hendricks Minimize

Crossbow and hunting professional Daniel HendricksDaniel James Hendricks is 60 years old and has been hunting small game since the age of six when he took his first gray squirrel with a Red Ryder B-B gun. He has been hunting big game, including whitetails, black bear, caribou, antelope, mule deer, turkeys, wild hogs and a wide assortment of exotic species since 1952. He picked up a recurve bow in 1973 and moved to a compound in 1987. He began hunting with the crossbow in Ohio during the 1994 whitetail season.

In 1993, Daniel founded North American Bowhunter, Inc. For the next four years, He produced the North American Bowhunter television show and started the North American Bowhunting Magazine.  Learn More About Daniel James Hendricks-