By Mark Kenyon

Today’s journal entry is for me. No offense, but today I’m putting these words on virtual paper not necessarily for your benefit, but more so for my own. You know, like a normal journal. Most people journaling are doing it to get their thoughts out of their head and onto paper, as a way to physically and mentally work their way through a tough issue or question. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here today. I’m wrestling with a tough question that only I can answer for myself.

Should I pass Holyfield?

That’s the question that’s been running through my mind for the past 12 hours or so. And it’s kind of a crazy question, I know.

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Yesterday evening, just before dark, I got confirmation that Holyfield is still alive. My wireless trailcam sent a pic of him feeding in one of my food plots and I was able to breath a big sigh of relief. It had been 10 days since my last sighting or photo, and I was just starting to get that nervous feeling. But here he was. Alive and kicking.

The first feeling I had was excitement that he was still around and the hunt was still on. But the second feeling was a bit different, yes he was still around and I could still hunt him, but at this point, did I really want to kill him?

Part of me says yes, of course, that’s what I’ve been trying so hard to do for the past few months. And I feel pretty good about my chances. On the other hand, given how far he’s made it already, I also really like the idea of seeing him again in 2017.

I’ve never had a hunt like I’ve had for Holyfield over the past two years. I’ve seen him more than any buck I’ve ever hunted, I’ve gotten more photos of him than any buck I’ve ever chased, I’ve obsessed over him possibly more than any buck to date. And I’ve enjoyed every single second of it.

Holyfield has made it through October. He’s made it through the rut in November. He’s made it through the firearm season. And now there are just 25 days of season left. It’s getting to the point where it’s seemingly possible that he could make it through all the way to the end. And if he did, that would be pretty darn cool.

How awesome would it be to search for and possibly find his sheds this winter? How exciting would next summer be waiting for the first trail camera photo? How incredible would it be to see what Holyfield could turn into as a 5.5 year old? How cool would it be to hunt him for a third straight year? All of these questions are deliciously interesting to me.

But at the same time, all of these questions carry a big risk. If I choose not to try and kill Holyfield over the next three weeks, what happens if he does end up getting killed by someone else?  That, of course, is a real possibility and it would be a sad end to this journey.

So now I have to weigh a different risk/reward than I’m used to when considering my hunting strategies. On the one hand, I have a strong chance to finally conclude this two year hunt with a happy ending. On the other hand, I could give him the pass, with hopes of an even greater reward next year.

To be honest, here we are some 500 words of journaling later, and I still don’t really have an answer.

It might just have to come down to how things feel in the moment. But I can tell you one thing for sure. If I am fortunate enough to encounter Holyfield in the coming days and weeks, I’m going to really soak in every little bit of that experience.

Hunting Holyfield has been a privilege and a pleasure, and whether I kill him or not, it won’t change that one bit.