Sunday, May 26, 2013

Outdoor Life attempts to pick best place to hunt trophy deer

In an interesting attempt at being unbiased, Outdoor Life's e-edition magazine has selected Kentucky as the best place for a non-resident hunter to score a record-book buck.

Ohio didn't do too badly, coming in at Number Nine with a leveraged score of 3.0 but compared to Kentucky's total adjusted score of 4.5.

Not everyone agreed with the on-line magazine's use of four criteria, or “metrics:” Trophy Production as based on the number of Boone & Crockett entries over the past three years; Hunter Density (and this is here where Ohio scored very badly, given the state's size and the number of deer hunters); Cost of Outfitted Hunts: and lastly, Hunter Friendliness, or how a state's deer-hunting laws are basically user friendly.

Outdoor Life pans Illinois, a state which restricts deer hunters to possessing shotguns capable of holding no more than three rounds. That rule also applies to Ohio.

Having successfully hunted deer in Kentucky on several occasions I can attest to Kentucky's high standing, though I'm not sure it deserves the Number One position.

Truth is, as careful as Outdoor Life is in trying to eliminate bias the fact remains objectivity will always remain an elusive target. No less so, in fact, than in trying to actually “bag one for the books.”

After all, while two plus two will always equal four, so will three plus one and four plus zero.

Consequently and unintentionally, any effort to eradicate bias by per-selecting criteria/matrix is itself a bias.

Simply put, a prospective hunter will go to great lengths to find where best to shoot a trophy deer.

Besides the four criteria Outdoor Life uses such other factors as types of firearms and archery tackle permitted, cost of travel, ease of finding accommodations, if the state has advisories on CWD, are all important considerations.

Maybe even carrying equal weight with the ones chosen by Outdoor Life.

And one of the criteria Outdoor Life picked – Cost of Outfitted Hunts – is itself of dubious value.

The on-line magazine employed averaging the cost that three in-state outfitters charge for an all-inclusive deer hunt.

A problem with employing this strategy is assessing the number of potential outfitters in any state.

Thus while Texas was judged the state with the highest average outfitted deer hunt ($4,065) it also has a seemingly unlimited number of such operations a hunter can choose from when making a selection.

Such is not the case for Ohio where Outdoor Life says the average outfitted cost for a deer hunt is $2,783.

Still, Outdoor Life must itself get a B-plus score for trying to help hunters in making a decision on where best to kill a book-class buck at as affordable a price the individual believes his finances (and spouse) will allow.

For a look at Outdoor Life's efforts, visit its site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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