Trophies on both ends of the spectrum
As hunters and fishermen we all have our own idea of what constitutes a trophy. Each individual has a different outlook or criteria that they measure their game against. There are even standardized organizations whose sole purpose is dedicated to tracking, scoring, and defining what they have established as being trophy class game or fish. Clubs like Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young, International Game Fish Association, Safari Club International just to name a few. For many folks the very definition of a “trophy” means different things but no matter whom you are but they all have one thing in common and that’s the lifelong memory that accompanies your “trophy”.
One guy who certainly has seen his share of trophies is Precision Archery owner Donnie Pickard. Over the years Pickard has seen far more than his share of trophies both in the wild and in his shop. Hunters from all over the country frequent his shop in Bridge City where Pickard and the staff treat everyone with the same courteous service that has become their calling card. Customers will often come in to the shop to share pictures of the animals they have taken with their bows and recount their stories. Here recently after a trip to Kansas Pickard has been telling the stories instead of listening. As a tremendously accomplished archer and hunter it means a lot to hear Pickard say words like “career best” when describing a trophy anything, much less a whitetail deer. After many years in the field Pickard reached some rare air when he took a 176 inch class genuine Kansas giant of a buck last week. Pickard took the 280 pound deer at 30 yards with his Bowtech RPM 360. Pickard’s buck is just an amazing deer with tall tines and mass throughout the rack. An amazing deer by anyone’s standards, especially one with the credentials Pickard possesses.
Now on the far other end of the trophy spectrum are the ones called “firsts”. These are perhaps the most memorable moments in hunter or fisherman’s career. Ask any outdoorsman about their first hunt or first fish they caught and most can recite with great detail the story without any hesitation. This past weekend I got be part of one of those “firsts” and it was an absolute blast. Six year old Slade Landry and his dad Chad Landry of Bridge City accompanied me in the duck blind for the Louisiana Youth only weekend hunt. Slade was pretty fired up about the whole event and that made it even more special. These hunts often help put things in perspective so to speak because you learn to appreciate a few of the things you may have been taking for granted. As we got situated in the blind and waited for shooting light the birds put on a show. Slade sat wide eyed listening to the different ducks call in their various tones as they buzzed the blind and occasionally plopped down in the decoy spread. After we settled on a duck to shoot I handed Slade a small .410 shotgun that I had originally bought for my son to shoot and have since let several other young hunters use to start their careers. The blue wing drake swam out in front of the blind and Slade did the rest. A new hunter was made at that moment along with a memory that the three of us will never forget. Slade managed to bag one more bird before we called it a morning and left to celebrate over breakfast. For many hunters those two birds were just that, two birds. For Slade those birds may as well have been double banded mallards because they were that special. I was more than proud to be a part of the whole experience and I certainly look forward to the next hunt.
As I write this column the weather is on the verge of changing and every hunter I know is more than excited about the weekend prospects. A highly anticipated push of new birds may make this weekend an epic event. Hopefully it’s the kind of weekend that allows us all to make some good memories and take our own versions of a trophy.