The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 3, 2012

Cross Column: TV hunting as realistic as Playboy

By John Cross
Free Press Staff Writer

— On this, the opening weekend of the firearms deer season, there’s a common connection to be made between those deer hunting shows on the tube and Playboy magazine.

Now, it’s true that in some deer camp libraries, Playboy is an important piece of literature.

But more than that, the connection is all about realistic expectations.

Through the magic of air-brushing and retouching — and now in the digital age, Photoshop — the girl next door has always been picture-perfect with nary a wrinkle, blemish or spot of cellulite to be found.

And without getting into the details, when it comes to some of the attributes of some of the young ladies, there always is an emphasis on size.

Of course, such perfection is mostly an illusion and hardly connected with reality.

Most of those deer hunting programs have no connection with reality, either.

Tune in to an outdoor hunting show and  professional (whatever that means) hunters regularly waylay Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young category bucks on a weekly basis, usually to the inane beat of heavy metal.

Not that there isn’t a deer hunter out there, this one included, who would doesn’t hope someday to bag a deer sporting a braggin’-size set of headgear sometime in their lifetime.

But unless one is well-connected or wealthy, those opportunities usually come along for most of us as just that, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

I’ll be the first to admit that one of the first channels I ordered when we moved to town nearly fifteen years ago and finally had access to cable television was one that featured outdoor hunting and fishing adventures.

But the luster of the programming dimmed as quickly as the novelty of being able to order pizza delivered right to my door.

It became apparent that most of those television hunts had no connection with my or most hunters’ reality in the deer woods. Few of them offered any insight into the intricacies of deer hunting.

It was and is all about big racks.

The vast majority of hunters are not invited on a regular basis to hunt for free in pricey, exclusive areas that are managed solely for big deer and aimed at big expense accounts.

At least in Minnesota, most of us don’t shoot deer while they have their noses deep into a pile of bait. (Indeed, the biggest trophy room in Minnesota might be the place where the DNR stores all of the firearms and bows confiscated from scofflaws who choose to hunt over baited sites.)

The only fences in most of our hunting areas are intended to keep cattle from wandering, not the deer.

While we always hope to set our sights on a deer with antlers, the bigger the better, we don’t apologize for shooting a doe for the freezer with apologetic claims that we are assisting in “herd management.”

There are about a half-million of us out here this weekend. Certainly, we’re all hoping a buck sporting ivory that is tall and wide strolls by.

For most of us, it won’t happen, of course.

But if a nice forkhorn or sleek doe happens past, best we appreciate the moment and the opportunity.

It will be our decision to make the shot or not.

And we won’t have to listen to the beat of heavy metal as we squeeze the trigger.


John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at