The next several days included many close calls, but the summer storms always had the wind swirling and so many stalks were blown that I lost count. Eventually I was in a good position to get into bow range on Elk and as I closed in on him, I ranged his antler tips at 37 yards as they bobbed up and down while he fed. I rose up with an arrow nocked and came to full draw. He was quartered away and still unaware of my presence. I placed my pin on his vitals and released; the whole time I was thinking, “He’s a dead deer.” As luck would have it, the arrow deflected with a loud CRAAAACK off the rock outcropping in front of me 12 feet away. I could see Elk’s body and legs down to his hocks slightly downhill from my height of eye. However, upon release the arrow didn’t have clearance to make it over the rock! That silly mistake cost me big; yet another lesson learned to put away in the vault of knowledge. That was my last encounter with Elk as he shed his velvet the next day and left the high country for the vast stands of dark timber below.
The author shot his buck in the high country of Colorado.
On day nine, I was 148 miles and 28,000 vertical feet into my hunt. The Wilderness Athlete Hydrate and Recover absolutely saved my knees on this journey. I no longer had Elk to chase; he was long gone and the other bucks were shedding their velvet daily. There were still two shooters in the group hanging around and one of those happened to be the second largest buck on the mountain. He was a great typical with deep forks and great symmetry. It was time for me to try and do what I had gone there for. The wind was good that morning and stayed consistent. The bucks were bedding away from one another, which made closing the distance easier without all the eyes, ears and noses. I stalked with Micah on the camera close behind. We peered over a rock outcropping and found him bedded 29 yards away. That was the moment I had been working so diligently for. With the Gray Light Productions camera rolling, I came to full draw and settled my 30-yard pin on the spot and released. The shot felt good and we watched as the buck stotted off and over the bench. We eased up over the bench to get a look and watched him drop down to a bedded position and finally roll over.
I had many emotions going through me at that moment and I was elated with a high that was as grand as the mountains that surrounded me. What a buck! I walked up to him, let out a loud shout of joy, picked up his large set of velvet-covered antlers and felt his thick healthy coat with immense satisfaction. I sat there caping him out and de-boning the meat knowing that the journey was over. I packed him into my Badlands 2800 and with Micah’s help we packed him off the mountain. A successful kill always propagates emotions of sadness in me that the hunt is over, yet even more overwhelming emotions that I’ve been successful. I worked hard for this buck and I am proud of him. He represents my largest archery deer so far, hunted on public ground.
Glassing with high quality binoculars is the best way to find bucks above timberline.
I have been blessed with some of the greatest gifts a man could ask for. I am humbled to say the least and to anyone who has not chased open-ground, high country mule deer… it is everything you might be thinking and then some! It is one of the greatest hunts ever and I will continue doing it for as long as this life permits me to. So with the conclusion of this hunt, myself along with the rest of Gray Light’s friends, look forward to Kansas, California and Arizona to finish out our season.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Marlon’s DVD. You can find it at his website – www.graylightproductions.com.
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