I’m not positive when the term “trophy” came into the language of the angler and hunter. I cannot recall if it was normally about or if it is a thing the outside neighborhood adopted additional not too long ago. But this single word, when attached to fish and game of any sort, reveals an intense polarity of views.
Some persons really feel the word trophy is a benign term, and a appropriate way to refer to any fish or wild animal that is extraordinary. Other folks — and this is not restricted to the anti-hunting and anti-fishing neighborhood — feel calling a thing a trophy puts also a great deal emphasis on the rack or general size of the quarry that it diminishes the practical experience.
Trophy signifies additional than size
This is an fascinating a single. I do not personally have a difficulty with the term. Some of the fish I’ve caught haven’t measured up as the biggest, but they had other attributes that created them exceptional — a trophy. Like a pretty good brookie I caught 25 years ago that is skin mounted and hung above my workplace laptop or computer. It is far from my biggest, so why did I mount it?
Effectively, here’s the story. It was a fish that I saw feeding a single evening and could not catch. I’d located a single hellgrammite at our campsite and place it in an empty beer bottle, then tossed the bottle into the canoe. On a whim, I emptied it and hooked that hellgrammite on a single #four octopus, placed it below a compact slip float, and tossed it towards the feeding trout. That did it. The hellgrammite was inhaled and the float disappeared.
The 23-inch inland-lake brookie was a beauty and I immediately wanted to mount it to preserve the practical experience. Right now, I’d have released that fish it was a unique time. But, I nonetheless believe of it as a trophy fish.
Emphasis on size
The trophy terminology becomes even additional loaded when it has something to do with hunting. Our culture, fired-up by social media, has defined trophy hunting as any hunting that puts the emphasis on size. Lots of of the viral anti posts that make the rounds are aimed at “trophy hunters.” This catch-all phrase tends to encompass any individual who requires game that is unusually massive, regardless of whether or not the hunter was essentially seeking for a record-book specimen. It becomes immaterial.
Admittedly, numerous hunters, this columnist incorporated, do get fixated on antlers and general size. A big-racked bull moose or whitetail is each a majestic creature and a uncommon harvest. Nonetheless, the vast majority of hunters who are in the field are not focused on bones. They want to harvest wild game. For edibility, numerous of us will take a spike moose more than a big monarch. As amazing as a 60-inch bull is, the meat is a bit chewy, and you can only mount so numerous moose racks. In reality, for most Ontario hunters, each and every moose is a trophy. These animals are so massive and amazing, you by no means overlook any that are harvested.
Acquiring an additional term
Many years ago, I was on a committee seeking at brook trout regulations on the Nipigon River and Lake Superior. Soon after hearing from researchers, the group wanted to raise the minimum size limit so all fish would have a possibility to spawn 3 occasions. There was concern from specific corners this was becoming carried out to develop a “trophy” brook trout fishery. The terminology started to overshadow the genuine biological need to have to decrease harvest of the fish. 1 of the committee members, a now retired MNRF biologist named Rob Swainson, came up with an concept. Alternatively of emphasizing the trophy nature of the fish and fishery, Swainson advisable the group use an additional term.
“Let’s speak about brook trout as a memorable fish,” stated Swainson. “These fish are exceptional, and every single a single is memorable in its personal way. We are preserving that.” That term was additional palatable to persons and defused a great deal of the controversy more than “trophy” fishing. The term also stuck with me. More than the years, I’ve located myself pondering significantly less about fish and game as prospective trophies and additional about them as exceptional and memorable.
Term will not go away
The term trophy is not going away, as it is a way for persons to emphasize the exceptional elements of a catch or harvest. It is not necessarily about size, length, or tine count.
When my son Devin was 13 years old, he shot his 1st deer. It was a button buck. When that young man walked up to the deer and looked at it, he could not have been additional excited. He smiled at me, displaying off braces, and it may well as nicely have been a 12-point monster. To Devin, it was a trophy. A definitely complete-fledged Stanley Cup of a deer.
And for his old man, it was so, so memorable.
Senior Editor Gord Ellis is a journalist, radio broadcaster, photographer, and qualified angler primarily based in Thunder Bay.
Initially appeared in the Ontario OUT of DOORS 2018-2019 Hunting Annual.