/  Uncategorized   /  The Edge Part 2 – Setting Your Standards

In Part 1, we talked about making the needed sacrifices and commitments necessary to harvest bucks on a consistent basis. Now it is time to set your goals.

When trophy hunting, one of the first things you must do is establish a realistic goal for yourself. When I was 14 years old, I already had it in my mind that I wanted to harvest the biggest buck on the mountain. The problem was, at that age, I simply didn’t have the patience required to pass on smaller bucks; therefore, I never accomplished my goal and normally shot the first four point buck that gave me the opportunity. In retrospect, this wasn’t necessarily all that bad. Shooting these smaller bucks early on in my hunting career helped me hone my hunting skills and gave me valuable shooting experience. This early experience allowed me to graduate to the next level of mule deer hunting.

It doesn’t necessarily matter what you set your minimum standard at, whether it be a 170, 180, or 190 B&C class buck, or whether it is simply to harvest a 30” buck, the main thing here is that you stick to the standard you have set for yourself. If your goal standard happens to be a 180 class buck, you need to let those 160-170 bucks walk. You need to keep that itchy trigger finger under control. A lot of people really struggle with this part.

Passing up small bucks can very well result in eating “tag soup” because you will not have an opportunity at a buck that will meet your standard every single year – guaranteed! If you have a hard time dealing with the thought of going home empty handed and eating your tag, it will make it extremely tough to harvest good bucks on a regular basis. Once you set a standard, you need to stick with it. No exceptions.

What are my current standards? I can honestly say that I don’t have any set standard other than the WOW factor. That’s right, it doesn’t matter what the buck’s net score is, or how wide he is, I am simply looking for a buck that when I see him for the first time, he makes my heart beat a little faster. To me, that is a buck that meets my WOW factor standard. With that being said, I do prefer bucks that have long tines that tend to have high-scoring typical frames….but then again, who doesn’t. I can honestly say, width is not that important to me. I will take a high-scoring 26” wide typical over a 30” crab claw buck any day.

So what should your standards be? This depends on a lot of different factors. Most importantly, it will depend on what the potential trophy quality of the area you are hunting is. If you are hunting an area where the genetics typically max out with bucks in the 170 class, then setting a goal of 180 or 190 will be setting yourself up for failure from the start. Be realistic when setting your goals.

Now that you have set your standards, this is where the fun starts……researching areas.

Next Installment: The Edge Part 3 – Research

This is a buck I nicknamed Curly. Even though he is only 24" wide, his unique frame and extra points gave him enough of a WOW factor that I simply couldn't pass him up.

This is a buck I nicknamed Curly. Even though he is only 24″ wide, his unique frame and extra points gave him enough of a WOW factor that I simply couldn’t pass him up.


  • December 15, 2013

    Harold Barrowx

    I totally agree that setting standards can be very difficult. I passed so many bucks that normally would have had lead flung their way this year it was astonishing. But in my scouting I had seen a buck that was, without a doubt, worthy of pursuit and well beyond my standard. I nicknamed him “the trouble buck” having missed him 3 times, shooting over his back, with my bow. I hunted all archery season for this buck with only building my experience level. Rifle season came ever so slowly, anxious to find the trouble buck. Thing is, I hunted every single day of rifle season for this one deer to no avail. Although very discouraging at times, I look back on this past deer season with feelings of great accomplishment, one, that I had exceptional opportunities at such a great trophy deer and two, the knowledge and experience I gained from setting my standards higher than in years previous that without setting them higher I would’ve completely missed out on.
    Can’t wait to read the next segment of this article. Nowhere else have I gained such valuable information as I have from reading the writings and advice from David Long. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • December 16, 2013

    Great article David. The most difficult times for this that I have run into are the moments when you jump a buck and it is time to decide whether or not to shoot. These harvests, a lot of times, can result in ground shrinkage. 170″ bucks look big on the hoof and are difficult to pass up in those tense and rapidly evolving situations.

  • December 17, 2013

    Kyle Paxman

    Good read David. I like your “wow factor” standard. Way too many people get too caught up in scores these days.

  • February 4, 2014

    lee francis

    v cool article , nice buck pic

  • February 21, 2014

    Wyatt Yates

    Great article David! When is Part 3 expected?