Do these clichés make you a cool hunter, or do you just sound like everyone else?
If you watch outdoor TV or online videos, read hunting articles (maybe like this one), or follow hunting influencer types on social media, you’re bound to pick up on the lingo. There’s a catalog of common words and sayings you’re likely to hear. And then you’ll likely hear them again. And again. Maybe you’ve even caught yourself saying some of them. It’s almost as if some hunters are simply following the leader and regurgitating things they hear other hunters say.
There have even been articles about this very topic, so I’m not trying to blaze a new trail. Saying these things doesn’t make you a bad person, and it’s not the end of hunting as we know it. But if you really want to know which sayings are my personal pet peeves, then look at a camera and scream …
This is likely the most used term in hunting right now, and I’m not entirely sure how it became a descriptor of animal size. I do remember the first time that I heard it was on a VHS tape produced by a video crew that pioneered modern hunting TV. It obviously stuck, because every other YouTube video (maybe even a Realtree video or two) seems to have a guy walking up to a buck and saying, “He’s a giant!”
The qualifications for a “giant” are pretty loose. I’ve heard it used to describe bucks ranging from 125 to 180 inches. It can also apply to bears, boars, and bulls. Maybe we should save this term for the big green guy on the cans of beans and stop using it to describe every animal to grace a filled tag.
2. We’ll see what happens.
It seems like nine out of 10 hunters doing their pre-hunt interview from the ground blind or treestand end the interview with, “We’ll see what happens.” This one has bugged me for years. Of course you’ll see what happens. Could we just once mix it up with something crazy like, “Hopefully we have a good hunt this afternoon,” or, “I’m sure glad to be out here enjoying this beautiful morning in the woods.”?
We’ll see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath.
If a group of guys is shooting a 3-D archery course and someone nails the 12-ring from long distance, go ahead and shout, “Dude! Nice shot!” That doesn’t bug me at all. What does bug me is when a TV hunter says “Dude!” multiple times, to no one in particular, while walking up to a buck or bull. Who is he talking to? (I say "he" because I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to a female hunter say "dude" over and over while recovering an animal.)
As a kid, I remember a few different early hunting TV hosts holding a quivering hand up to the camera after harvesting a buck and saying “I’m shaking like a leaf.” Hearing it used dozens — no, hundreds — of times since has made this one wear out its welcome. Other things shake, too. Then again, maybe “I’m shaking like a Jello mold on a 4-wheeler rack” doesn’t have the same ring.
5. The food here is great.
Pointing this out is a sure sign the hunting is terrible. How many TV hunters have sat behind a mediocre buck (or no buck at all) giving an interview after an outfitted hunt and said, “The food here is great”? Did they go there to hunt or go there to eat? Seriously. It’s a lot cheaper to dine at top-tier restaurants than to hunt with an outfitter. If I spend thousands of dollars on a hunt, I’d be way more interested in eating fried crow and shooting a huge buck than eating like a king and settling for a small buck.
6. Big tom.
“I saw a big tom strutting out behind Farmer John’s barn this morning.” How big? You don’t know, and neither does anyone else, because you can’t size a gobbler while whizzing by at 55 miles per hour, or stop to put him on a scale. In fact, it’s not all that easy to size up a gobbler that’s strutting in decoys at 12 yards. Besides that, who cares? A tom is a tom, and I don’t know of many real turkey hunters who pass up adult birds that come to the calls or decoys. Is anyone really disappointed in a longbeard that only weighs 18 pounds?
I’ve been guilty of saying this in my early hunting years. Now that I have more than 20 hunting seasons behind me, I think it sounds kind of dumb, and it’s certainly beaten to death. “Smoking” is what happens when you fire up the grill following a successful hunt. Why not tell it like it is and say, “Perfect shot!”?
8. Boots on the ground.
I’m going to pick on outdoor writers — my own kind — for this one. I’ve read plenty of articles with sentences almost exactly like this one: “I arrived to my predetermined hunting area after the 8-hour drive and put boots on the ground to find stand locations.” Where else would your boots be while scouting but on the ground? I’m not sure who coined the saying, but it gets used. A lot. Maybe I’ve even written it once or twice in my own career. Let’s try not to be so clever and just say, “I hiked around and scouted a few different spots.”
9. If it’s brown, it’s down.
There’s nothing wrong with shooting whatever deer makes you happy, especially if it is specifically for meat. But the phrase, “If it’s brown, it’s down,” implies that hunters just go out and shoot everything that moves. That’s a bad message. True hunters are wildlife managers and conservationists, not blood-thirsty killers. The worn-out phrase suggests differently, and that’s why I don’t like it.
What do a toad and a big buck have in common? Nothing more than other mammals and amphibians. So why do hunters say, “I shot a toad,” or, “I saw a big buck this morning. Man, he was a toad!”? Wait a minute. I thought you said he was a big buck? Now you’re telling me he was a toad?
For better or worse, cliched sayings come and go. See what we did there? If you’re going to use a catch-phrase, it doesn’t hurt to be original. But more importantly than that, keep it clean and positive. You never know who you’re influencing.
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