2016 Idaho Mule Deer pt. 2

Juan_ID

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Feb 25, 2012
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684
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S. Idaho
A few people asked if I was going to do a write up on this buck, and I figured with the itch starting to get serious for some with application deadlines well upon us now was as good of a time as ever... If you subscribe to MuleyCrazy then you've already read it, so this is for those of you that may not be subscribers. I'll post it in small portions as it's fairly long and I don't want to bore you guys, pics to come later as well. Hope you enjoy it

It was October 26th, and I'd spent most of the day trying to find a buck or cow elk for my grandpa and uncle, but we hadn’t seen much of anything all day. So as the afternoon hours crept closer and my grandpa and uncle were ready to head home, I planned on heading to a nearby unit in an attempt to hopefully help a couple friends fill their controlled hunt tags. I had just about driven all the way there when something in my gut told me I needed to get back to my hunt. So just like that I notified my buddy that there was a change of plans and wished them good luck. Little did I know what a blessing that would be.


It was close to dark as I was nearing my “camp” spot. I started debating whether or not it would be worth unloading the 4wheeler and attempting to spot some deer for the morning’s hunt, I decided to give it a shot so I grabbed my gear and hit the trail. As I crept up the trail to the big bald knob, I killed the 4wheeler and just as my binos hit my eyes I spotted some deer. I saw what I thought looked like a huge buck pushing does in the dark draw below me. Excited, I quickly reached into my pack and got my tripod and spotter setup in an attempt to get a better look. As I got the scope focused, I could not believe what I was looking at, a true Idaho giant! It was so dark all I could make out was huge forks and good mass but that was enough for me to know I was likely looking at one of if not THE biggest typical buck I’d ever seen on the hoof! I scrambled to get my phoneskope setup and got some less than great footage of the buck. I sat there until well after glassing hours and then made the drive back to the truck still in disbelief. I knew sleep was going to be hard to come by that night (as though the backseat of my truck wasn’t already comfortable enough)! When I got back to my truck I began heating water for my mountain house dinner and called my wife to tell her about my good fortune. She wished me luck for the remainder of my hunt, I then inhaled dinner and laid down in the back of the truck in an attempt to get some rest.
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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Messages
684
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S. Idaho
Surprisingly, I’d slept better than I had anticipated, but still woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm; so I decided to get up and start getting ready. After quickly eating breakfast,I loaded my pack with enough food and snacks to stay out all day and jumped on the 4wheeler to head to my glassing knob. I had gotten there a little early and as you could imagine, I sat there with tons of anticipation for the morning glass. I was beyond eager to see if the buck would grace me with a sighting once again. As the first rays of light began to peek over the eastern ridge I was reminded of just how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy God's creations. Shortly after sun up I spotted deer not 150 yards from where I’d seen the big buck the night before...



I grabbed my scope and wouldn’t you know it, there he was! I immediately got set up to try and get a better look at him and attempt to get some better footage, and it was here that I noticed the many extras this buck had on top of his already giant frame.





I could have sat there watching the big buckinteract with his harem of does all day but after several minutes of admirationI packed my scope back up, grabbed my rifle and began heading downthe ridge to cut the distance. I had hiked about ½ mile down the ridge and then dropped my pack and began creeping further down a small finger ridge. When I ran out of cover I decided to sit and see where the deer were. Having counted on them to work their way to the north up the small draw I was now perched above,they ended up heading to the south side of the big canyon putting even more distance between us.
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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684
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S. Idaho
Knowing there was a road at the bottom of the canyon about 2 miles from the buck's location I decided to head back to the 4wheeler and drive around to the bottom and hike in from the road in an attempt to relocate the deer where they’d likely be bedded for the remainder of the morning. All the while I kept wondering what the chances of relocating the buck were after being out of sight for an extended period of time and not having watched them til they bedded down like I normally would?

My mind was racing with all the possible scenarios, but I tried to keep my head straight and prayed for the best. Once at the bottom, I hiked in and got on the opposing ridge. After glassing the timber for a good hour, I located the small 2point that was running with the group. This little buck threw a wrench in my plans because even being 300+ yards away in the thick timber he would pick up any movement I made making relocating higher on the ridge almost impossible. After a tense hour and a half, I couldn’t locate any of the other deer. I began feeling like this wasn’t going to pan out in my favor when just then the small buck looked up the canyon behind him, jumped up and began to trot up the hill. I hastily got setup hoping the big buck was going to show himself. As the little buck made his way up the hill, the rest of the group finally appeared and bringing up the rear was Mr. Big.

I quickly found them in my scope and attempted to prepare myself for a shot. When he cleared the group I touched a shot off and instantly knew it was a miss, so I put another round in the chamber and sent another one, another miss! I watched helplessly as they crested the ridge and out of sight. I sat there devastated, knowing I had just blown my opportunity at the buck of a lifetime. After sulking in my defeat for a few minutes, I packed up my gear and headed down the canyon back to the 4wheeler. Since they didn’t seem too startled from the shots I was hopeful that I could relocate them from one of the ridges above. Towards the top of the big canyon I had spotted his
group, including little forky but the big buck was nowhere to be found. I glassed til dark for the big buck to no avail but was again hopeful the morning would bring me better luck.
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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684
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S. Idaho
To say I didn’t sleep a wink that night would be a vast understatement. Morning came and with it a huge storm that I’d been anticipating even before leaving for the hills days before. I once again hit the trail, but this time in the howling winds and pouring rain. Once to the knob I started the hike down the ridge in the dark to be in a better position for the morning glass. There were about 20 minutes of semi-clear skies to begin the morning glass, but I was then socked in with rain and dense fog for over 3 hours. With no signs of the weather letting up, I decided to head back to the truck where I could possibly wait out the storm in a bit more comfort. After another couple hours in the truck I had decided to pack it in for the day and head home.

This was my view from the knob all morning.



Once home, I replayed the scenario over and over again in my mind trying to figure out what I could have done differently, but couldn’t think of what I’d have done differently other than being more prepared for the shot. My awesome wife continued toremindme of just how lucky I was to have even seen a buck like that and encouraged me to keep my head upbecause the season wasn’t over just yet. I had already decided I’d stay home Saturday and get back out for the lasttwo days of season. Sundayrolled around andI was ready to hit it hard and hopefully locatethe big buck again.

Sunday morning started like many other days, getting to the trail in the dark and hiking in at daylight not wanting to possibly hike by the big buck in the dark. This time, I had come in from the bottom again and gotten to the hillside across from their last known location days before. I had been glassing for several hours and had spotted several other deer but the big buck nor his harem of does were anywhere to be found. As I got up to stretch my legs, I lifted my binos to the timbered hillside once again and there he was! Head down and moving fast through the timber as though he was attempting to sneak away from me undetected! I couldn’t believe I’d finally spotted him again; as I got my scope out I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even remember where I thought I’d just seen him. I was finally able to calm down and before I knew it, had spent another 3 hours attempting to relocate him to no avail.


 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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684
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I thought things couldn’t get much worse, but wouldn’t you know it, here came another storm. Without many options, I decided to head into the area where I “thought” I’d seen the big buck earlier in the day. I bumped some of the other deer I’d seen, but once again came up empty in my search. With the storm getting worse by the minute I decided to hike back to the truck, by that time the fog was so thick I couldn’t see 50 yards and the rain and wind was really starting to pick up. I once again hit the road for home, soaking wet.


I was determined to hit it hard the last day of the season. Monday morning (Halloween) my alarm went off at 4 AM letting me know it was time to wake up and hit the road, I was so tired that thoughts of sleeping in and staying home crossed my mind. After hitting snooze for the second time, I popped up out of bed and was preparing for my last trek to the familiar hills. Once arriving at the trail for the last time of the season about an hour before daylight I got my gear ready to go. Since I was early, I decided to wait ‘til daylight before leaving the truck. Upon jumping out of the truck at daylight I saw dense fog and snow come rolling from the canyon I was going to hike. Not wanting to go in blind and risk possibly bumping the big buck (if he was even still in the area.) I decided to wait a little while longer and see if the fog would clear.

As my luck would have it I dozed off, I was shocked to see clear blue skies as I woke and knew I had over slept. I checked the time on my phone and it was 9:15! I couldn’t believe it, one of the only times I’d accidentally overslept and at the worst time possible. I grabbed all my gear and hit the trail a little disheartened with my carelessness but I kept telling myself to stay positive. I was hopeful the storm had kept the deer bedded a little longer and with it's passing, they’d be on their feet a little later in the morning feeding...


 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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Messages
684
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S. Idaho
Sorry for the lack of pics. I'm trying to break it up as best I can, but I promise the end is near!
 

JustHunt

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Dec 24, 2015
Messages
77
Juan, great article and even greater buck.

But how the hell did you have the patience to sit there and take pre shot photos of this buck!!? Cant say ide do the same. So don't worry about the 'lack" of pictures.

Did you send in a tooth to try and find how old this buck was? Ide be interested to know.

Congrats on what is a once in a few lifetimes type buck for most people.
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
684
Location
S. Idaho
About a mile up the canyon I spotted some deer on an open hillside off to my right, I raised my binos and instantly saw what looked like a big buck dogging does. I didn’t even give myself enough time to second guess if it was “himor not and quickly prepared myself; I was already within range but could not get a clear shot through the tall trees in the bottom of the canyon. I dropped my pack and began inching my way up the hill on hands and knees in an attempt to get a clear shot, before long I found that a few of the does had caught some movement and were trying to figure out what was slowly creeping their way from the bottom of the canyon. I knew it was now or never so I quickly moved to one of the last trees between usand as I got there it was evident all the deer were now alerted to my presence, including the big buck. I steadied myself on a thick branch in the tree and almost immediately found the buck in my scope; he was broadside looking my direction with a doe directly in front of him. God had a quick response to my prayer and within only a few seconds the doe cleared.

With that, I clicked my 7mm off safety and put the crosshairs high on his back and squeezed the trigger. He fell in his tracks! I could see his head moving as though he was attempting to get up, not wanting to chance it I fired another round which missed it's mark but thankfully he was down for the count. I sat there in total disbelief at what had just happened. As I sat there shaking uncontrollably, tears filled my eyes as I gave thanks to the Lord for the great blessing lying up the hill.


I quickly ran down and retrieved my pack then began the marathon sprint up the hill to my buck. I was completely out of breath as I rounded the brush and saw his massive rack laying there. I lost it and fell to my knees in disbelief. I couldn’t believe how big he was, I had thrown a few numbers around in my head, but seeing him up close and personal his size was truly humbling. His mass, forks, bladed tines and extras were all more than I had thought. I had finally harvested the buck I’d dreamt of for so many years, a true Idaho giant and on an OTC tag to boot! This buck means so much more to me than the numbers, he represents a lifelong dream come true that I'll be forever grateful for. I feel so blessed as I get to look at him on my wall and re-live the hunt daily.

(Here's what I saw as I rounded the brush and saw my buck up close and personal for the first time.)


And once I pulled him out of the brush...






One of my favorite harvest pics, unfortunately my battery died before I was able to preview the pics and change positions/angles.



None of this would be possible without my truly amazing wife and all of her support and encouragement over the years in my mule deer addiction; I wouldn’t be nearly as successful if it weren’t for her! I also have my grandpa to thank for instilling in me a deep love and respect for the outdoors at such a young age, which I can't wait to pass on to my own children one day. GOD IS GOOD!
 
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jlhois

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May 9, 2015
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398
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Boise
Amazing Buck and story. Congrats! Thanks for sharing. Is it fall yet?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
684
Location
S. Idaho
Juan, great article and even greater buck.

But how the hell did you have the patience to sit there and take pre shot photos of this buck!!? Cant say ide do the same. So don't worry about the 'lack" of pictures.

Did you send in a tooth to try and find how old this buck was? Ide be interested to know.

Congrats on what is a once in a few lifetimes type buck for most people.
Thanks! And I try to always take pictures or at least sit back and watch for a bit whenever possible, it seems to calm me down and allow me to think through scenarios more level headed. It was hard sitting there watching him and not running down and trying to get a shot but that would have been a very low percentage opportunity I'm sure.

I did not send a tooth off but I do have his lower jaw, from what me and my buddies could tell he didn't appear to be very old at all. We had guessed ~4.5-5.5

Thanks ALOT Juan!:mad: You have just upped my itch for October.........and it is only April. Damn.

Great write up!

Randy

Haha thanks Randy! My itch has been pretty constant for longer than I care to admit! 😬

Like I said before the frame on that deer is truly amazing. You really lucked out finding that guy again after the first opportunity!
Nice job man

Thanks man, he does have a pretty unreal frame, all the junk and other things just add to his character. And I sure did luck out, I like to think my persistence played part in it too but I'll take the luck any day!
 
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Juan_ID

Juan_ID

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Feb 25, 2012
Messages
684
Location
S. Idaho
Here he is in his current state, I wasn't able to drop our capes off to the taxidermist til about a month ago so it'll be a while til he's done but luckily I got my 2015 archery buck back the same day so I have him to stare at til the mounts from last year are done!



 
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