Dealing with the Deer Camp Egomaniac

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Here's how to handle the guy whose only goal is to shoot more deer and bigger bucks than you

I got this e-mail from a fellow the other day. 

Mike: My main hunting buddy is a pretty good guy and a great hunter. He’s into conservation and getting kids involved in the sport and all that. But man, he’s obsessed with killing more deer and bigger bucks than me or anyone else. 

Every season about October, he starts to talk it up and brag. He’s hung up on being the No. 1 deer killer in our parts. He makes most people in our camp uncomfortable and ruins a good time for all of us.

What should I do? In spite of his attitude, I like the guy okay, especially when we’re not hunting. And hunting wise, he’s turned me on to some good stands on our lease. But sometimes I just can’t stand to be around him and his ego.

BTW, I don’t care about deer numbers or rack score. I simply want to put some meat in the freezer and wait for a buck that I think is mature, the way I see you do it on TV. Thanks (name withheld so as not to PO my buddy).

Anonymous: Thanks for this thought-provoking topic.

I’ve spent time in every kind of lodge, club, and deer camp you could imagine in the last 40 years and encountered my fair share of know-it-alls like you describe. Not every camp or club has one, but a lot do. 

Life's too short to hunt with people you don't like. Image by Realtree

After spending a few hours around a loud, cocky guy, I pretty much have him pegged. While a few of these guys I’ve run into have been decent people like you say your buddy is, most have proved to be obnoxious a****** to some extent. 

I have no time or use for men like that, and neither should anyone reading this post. Our lives and hunting time are too short. I want to hang out and hunt with people I like and respect, and so should you. 

I try three approaches with egomaniacs. 

1. The Cold Shoulder

This is how I usually begin, once I have a swellhead pegged. When I’m in a camp’s mess hall or TV room listening to him brag about how great a hunter he is and how many monster bucks he’s killed, I hear him out, yawn, and get up and leave without saying a word. After this repeats for a day or two, a blowhard sometimes gets the message that neither I nor anyone else wants to hear his ravings. Sometimes that shuts him up, sometimes it doesn’t.

2. Avoidance

If the cold shoulder doesn’t work and a narcissist keeps spouting off, I turn to complete avoidance. I leave the room when he comes in talking up a storm. I take my meals elsewhere and retire to my room or tent. The guy ends up thinking I am the jerk. But again, I don’t have the time or inclination to spend my hunting days around some self-aggrandizer.

3. The Last Resort

A few times I’ve lost it and confronted blowhards. In as calm a voice as I could muster, I told them it doesn’t matter how many deer they’ve killed, or if their buck was bigger than mine. 

I remember telling one guy simply, “Doesn’t matter if you’re a better hunter than me, you might be, but nobody cares, man.” He looked at me like I was the village idiot. All that matters to a hunting narcissist, you see, is that he is better at it than you are, and most importantly that his bucks have bigger racks than yours do.  

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No matter the approach I take, I usually still never have a good time around a swellhead, so I avoid people like that whenever I can.

Note all the pronouns I use in this discussion are he and him. I have never met, nor do I think I ever will, a female hunting egomaniac. All the braggarts are males who think they can hunt and shoot better than you, and certainly better than a huntress. 

As it turns out, that is why many ladies, the true huntresses, are better shots and hunters than we are because they listen to a mentor, enjoy learning, train harder, have more patience than men, and could not care less if their deer is bigger than yours is, assuming you are a man.

Anyway, Anonymous, in your case I recommend that you bite your tongue for now and put up with your buddy’s BS as best as you can. I would not confront him and his egoism right away — and perhaps lose a friend and some good hunting spots to boot! 

This fall, when the guy goes to holding court and getting on your nerves and everybody else’s, get up and leave without a word. Go back out to your treestand, run to the store, go home, whatever. Cold shoulder him enough, and he might get the message: that you don’t want to hear how good he is or how many deer he’s going to whack and stack this season. 

I don’t know how old this fellow is, but at some pivotal time in every hunter’s life the hunting becomes more important than the killing, though it takes longer for some people to get there. Hopefully in a year or two your friend will start to realize that it’s not all about rack score or numbers of deer slain, far from it. By then you’ll know him better and might be able to talk it out man to man without blowing up your friendship. 

Good luck. 

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