The buck in the photo above is dead, shot by a young hunter who was, of course, ecstatic. Shortly after the kill, however, things went sour. A neighboring landowner felt robbed because “his” deer–which spent much of its life on that property–was now going on someone else’s wall. People started questioned the kill: Was it legit? Did a parent shoot it instead of the kid? Where exactly was the buck standing when it tipped over?

Deer season is less than a month old in my region, and already things are turning ugly. Which is nothing new of course; virtually anyone who has shot a giant whitetail will tell you that the carcass is barely cold before the rumor mill starts churning. The green monster of envy is alive and well in every other human endeavor, why not deer hunting?

But there’s a new thread running through the whitetail world lately; that is, blaming big bucks for all the rotten behavior–as in “if we didn’t have all these monster deer running around, you wouldn’t have all this trouble.”

That’s B.S. A nice set of antlers might be a convenient place to hang blame, but trust me, morons will emerge regardless of the mature buck population. I know because I grew up hunting areas where you couldn’t buy a 2-1/2-year-old buck with a bag of gold. And guess what? There were idiots aplenty there, too. I had stands stolen, dealt with trespassing, and twice–when I was in my 20’s–nearly had to break up fistfights about to erupt over a) a property line dispute and b) the possession of a forkhorn buck shot by hunters from different parties.

Let’s be honest, folks: Some people are just rude, boorish, dolts. Assigning blame for their bad behavior on the deer just disguises a simpler, more uncomfortable, truth: that a jerk is a jerk, whether he’s hunting the best property in southern Iowa or the crappiest deer ground on the planet.

Yes, there are more mature deer running around now. But idiots have been acting like idiots long before the boom in big whitetails. I’ve lived through “the good old days” when “a deer was just a deer” and before someone coined the phrase “you can’t eat the horns.” And know what? The bucks have gotten better, but the hunters are pretty much the same.

Stand with me, or shoot me down.