I of the Beholder

April 22, 2021 | « back

By: Ted Nugent

On the wall of our old NorthWoods Michigan Nuge family log cabin are the artfully mounted heads of a pair of handsome whitetail deer. These two mounts literally reek of glowing memory tsunamis of every minute detail of each encounter that reside deep in my soul and remain on call for my serious happiness celebration anytime and everytime I see them or even think about them.

Afterall, that is the essence of the art of taxidermy and also why nobody ever hires a taxidermy artist to mount their chicken no matter how enjoyable the Cordon Bleu family meal memory may be.

Many guests to our wilderness cabin end up staring at these two deer on the wall and eventually and inevitably inquire as to why I had them mounted, for you see, the one is a button buck fawn of the year 1969 and the other is a doe fawn of the year 1970.

As I excitedly go into the detailed stories behind each kill, some soon begin to understand the spiritual moment of my excitement while others remain somewhat confused as to why anyone would ever bother to mount such non-trophy animals, missing the whole point of what such taxidermy work truly represents.

Over the years I have had many more big game kills mounted and many of them do indeed qualify as genuine trophies by any and all such measurements, both official and non-official.

But the vast majority of my mounted heads, like the vast majority of my kills, only qualify as real trophies in my own mind, and that right there, is the only official recordbook qualification that most of us need, pursue, desire and respect.

The artistic magic of gifted taxidermists represents the most admirable art this side of God’s original creation. One of the most dramatic indicators of cultural deprivation is the immeasurable effort put forth necessary to protect one’s self-inflicted ignorance to foolishly condemn trophy hunting.

The typical runaway nonsense that trophy hunters just kill for the antlers and head of the animal then discard the meat is nothing but a big, fat, ignorant lie.

Everybody knows that, antler dimensions notwithstanding, the ultimate trophy for all hunters is the sacred flesh.

Some of my best trophies never made it to the taxidermist, for the best memories of all did not in fact include any killing.

Those magical moments with terminally ill kids around the campfire cannot be measured in the physical world.

Those opening days with my family where no shots were fired are things of legend.

The days around the pond with the innercity kids catching their very first mess of panfish will go down in history.

We occasionally hear a lot that deerhunting has gone bad due to the increased focus on so called trophy bucks, but I don’t see it that way at all.

Though improved herd management has in many ways help create stronger, healthier and more vibrant deer populations, including more older bucks, the vast majority of American deerhunters continue to genuinely thrill at the prospects of bringing home your traditional young buck or a doe or two.

As good as we may be able to get at outwitting the old, wise, mature bucks of the herd, we are incapable of impacting the nucleus of breeding animals. They are just too damn clever.

My hunting happy factor will never be impacted at all by any outside influences. It is all just too personal for me.

Continue to encourage our fellow hunters to pursue deerhunting happiness based purely on our individual choices. To each his and her own. Trophy hunting comes in an endless level of individual choice in the eye of the beholder.

Last time I checked, I am the beholder.