Dave’s 2002 hunt
It was a beautiful Friday morning, seven days into the November Coues deer season, 2002. I had not seen a lot of deer, and was a little disappointed. The second day of the hunt, I had found good sign, indicating to me where a mature buck had been working. However, I never got a look at that buck.
A couple of days later, hunting a remote ridge, I started cutting sign of another mature buck. The way I worked the ridge, I was sure he had caught me moving up the ridge. Therefore, the buck easily evaded me.
The next couple days, I worked different ridges. I saw a few does, and one spike. Still, I never cut any sign that told me a mature buck was in the area.
On the seventh day into the hunt, I started out before daylight; heading up the backside of a ridge that would top out above where I was sure the buck was living. The morning was cool; no wind was blowing–yet. As the sun started coming up, I was half way up the ridge. I had been moving slowly, and keeping to the shadows, glassing constantly. I was straight across the valley from the bluff where the second mature buck had been working, so I was glassing the hillside below the bluff. All of a sudden there he was, feeding in a dense cat claw thicket.
I figured he was about a mile away, but even at that distance, looking through 10×40 glasses, I could see he was a good mature buck. I got out the spotting scope and set up on him, waiting for him to bed for the day. I was surprised when he fed slowly up toward the bottom of the bluff for the next hour and a half. Sitting in the shadows, watching the buck feed, I was starting to freeze.
It was about 9:30 a.m. I knew if I didn’t put him to bed, I would never find him again. I couldn’t continue watching him from where I was because I was shivering so badly, I couldn’t keep him in the scope. Having no choice, I picked up my gear to move out into the sun and warm up. I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to bed down. I looked at my watch. It was 10:00 a.m.
The buck was about forty or fifty yards below the bluff, in a shallow drainage, when he decided to bed. After I was sure he was down for the day, I started to determine the best approach to bring me within rifle range. I dropped off the ridge that I was on, and cut across the flats to the ridge he was on. I stayed just off the top to ensure that the buck wouldn’t have a clear view of me as I started my stalk.
I topped out about 250 yards from where I had seen him bed. Even using the spotting scope, it took me at least half an hour to locate him. Finally, I spotted his horns through the brush. Now, I would be in plain sight, so I took my spotting scope and rifle, and crawled about five to ten yards at a time to reset up and try to find a hole through the brush. After repeating this procedure for about 100 yards, I was out of ridge. I was sitting on the edge of an abandoned mine shaft. I could see a clear shot at about half of the buck’s neck. I could tell unless I got him up, this was the best shot that I was going to get.
It was now time to make up my mind. So far this morning’s hunt had been more or less like a hunting videotape. The buck was a three-point with decent horn girth spread about fourteen inches, third tine about four to five inches, second tine about two and half inches. He was real even with about one and half inch brow tines. Experience told me he would score in high eighties or low nineties. He was not a wall hanger for me, but a worthy trophy. I decided to take him.
I knew he hadn’t seen me, as I watched him look around, and then doze. If I got him up and he jumped, he would be out of sight. I decided to make the shot from where I was. I watched until I saw him doze off again. I readjusted my spotting scope so I could use it as a rest. I waited until the wind quit gusting, and squeezed off my shot. As I took the recoil of my rifle, I saw the buck lurch up, then nothing.
I sat still glassing for fifteen or twenty minutes. When I saw no further action, I knew my hunt was over. The shot had been perfect, hitting the buck in the neck and exiting below the ribs on the opposite side of his body.