5 Stages of a Hunter Series: Trophy Stage

This is part four of the 5 Stages of a Hunter Series. Make sure to read, What Type of Hunter are You?, The Shooter Stage, and The Limiting Out Stage

Article Contributed by Field Staff Writer J. Lee.

When it comes to the five stages of a sportsman I believe I’m in a hybrid of the trophy and sportsmen stage, and honestly I hope I never leave this “troph-smen” stage.  I believe that these five stages apply to spear-fishermen as well, where I find myself in the same hybrid stage. With the opportunity to hunt or to spearfish in Hawaii, a 365 day a year option, you find yourself moving through the stages rather quickly.

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Photo Courtesy of Chris Hirata Photography
Photo Courtesy of Chris Hirata Photography

There aren’t too many places where you can find yourself with shooting opportunities as often as you can here in the 50th state. With so many opportunities to fill your freezer, you quickly find yourself either; looking for the biggest of your target species, happy going home with an empty meat bag, being stoked with a the perfect one for the dinner table, or pay for a bigger freezer.  With the cost of electricity in Hawaii being so high, you find yourself avoiding the latter option.  However, having the amount of choices in big game to hunt year round I believe hunters in Hawaii can fall in different stages depending on the game in which they’re hunting.  Same fate falls on the spear-fishermen where the ocean can be a target rich environment.  Growing up in such a unique sportsmen arena I believe that’s why I find myself in such a hybrid stage.

IMG_4017I’ve been archery hunting and spearfishing for over 20 years and I can’t say exactly when or how I got to the stage I am today.  When archery hunting, I usually target an animal that is either the perfect eating size or has a set of horns/antlers that wow me by either being a trophy in my eyes or a really unique horn/antler configuration.  I often will stalk past smaller or none mature animals in hopes of getting within in range of a more mature animal. Or if while glassing a herd i will not attempt a stalk because the herd does not hold an animal in which I deem worthy.  In the ocean I’m the same way either its a particularly challenging fish to shoot, or its a big fish that usually sparks my interest. I’ve passed on smaller fish that were well within shooting range of my speargun in hopes that the bigger fish in the school will work its way within range. If the stars align for me, and I am lucky enough to shoot a trophy either on land or in the ocean, I find myself especially proud because it is a trophy and I find joy in the fact that I chose to shoot that particular one.  This is why I see myself falling in the Trophy Stage.
Photo Courtesy of Chris Hirata Photography

However, I fall into the Sportsmen stage also because I get just as much joy as just being out there and enjoying the outdoors with my friends and family as I do when I come home with a trophy.  While spearfishing I catch myself a lot of times just floating and observing the fish and ocean life around me.  Some of my more memorable experiences in the ocean with speargun in tow are actually when I didn’t shoot anything, but was just a spectator in the world’s largest aquarium.  In the woods its quite the same for me.  I find myself laying under big trees and trying to slow my breathing down so to be as quiet as possible, and truly listen to the what the forest has to say.  I also find myself hiking to the best lookout to watch and enjoy the sunrise before looking for animals to pursue.  Adding family and friends into these experiences, that is what I love.  I love the laughs and bonding time that is spent with camo on my back or snorkel in my mouth more than most anything.  Sitting on the tailgate at the end of a long dive or a long hunt and having a cold beverage with your partner for that day and “talking story” about what we saw in the water or in the woods, makes my heart smile.  Reliving the day’s adventure and talking about past ones while still salty or sweaty, those are the times that are most important to me.  I’m perfectly fine with going home with an empty cooler, because my soul is fed best after a day spent outside enjoying nature, at her best

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