The next morning, I was in the big saddle by first light and again sat until close to noon without spotting the big buck. My phone said there was important business waiting on my email, so I hiked out to the truck and fired up my laptop to put out the fires. By the time I was done, it was after 3:00 PM and time to head back to the saddle.
I sneaked in from the usual direction with the wind in my favor. The weather was even warmer and I didn’t need a coat–strange for early November. I sat glassing the saddle from about 800 yards away with my big 15x SLCs over my CT Travel Tripod. Only a few does and fawns were scattered about.
It was about 4:30 PM and the shadows were getting long. Scanning the familiar hillsides, I noticed a new deer standing in the heavy brush. I trained the big 15xs on the deer and stared. It was him. I got my best look yet and could see he was even heavier than I’d thought.
He was slowly walking in chest-high brush and was very alert. Occasionally he’d drop his head and sniff the ground, indicating he was looking for does. I realized sitting in the low-sage of the open hillside, I was totally exposed. I crept down the hill about 30 yards to get in some cover. When I put the binoculars back on him, he was staring my way!
If he went back in the deep cover, I’d lose him so I dumped my big binos, slung the tripod over my left shoulder and my rifle over my right and took off for him. I had about 400 yards of brush to hide my movements and should be under 400 yards of his last known locale when I emerged–if he didn’t disappear in the meantime.
A few minutes later, I crept from the cover and quietly sneaked up to a rise in front of me, barely poking my head over the sagebrush to glass. I nervously scanned the cover with my 8×42 EL Swaro’s praying to God I hadn’t spooked him. After several minutes, I spotted a white face barely visible in the edge the quakies below. It was him. The ELs said 265 yards.
I pressed myself to the ground, eased the tripod off my shoulder and set it up in front of me. I slowly rose to one knee and slid my rifle over the tripod, securing it with my left hand. The buck was broadside but looking my way. I put the crosshairs center shoulder and took in a breath, but something was wrong…I couldn’t get steady! I melted back into the ground and tried to calm myself. I knew I was running out of time so I slid back into position and tried to settle again, but he was gone!
I slowly crept down the hill about 15 yards and poked my head back up. I could see him again, but he had me pegged now and was getting ansty. I had to shoot this buck right now or he’d likely be gone forever.
Easing back on the tripod, I found his shoulder in the tangle and took in a quick breath. The crosshairs traced an erratic circle on his shoulder and I slowly pressed the trigger…
Home Run, 2016.
Next post, we’re heading to Utah for a muzzleloader rut hunt.
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