We decided not to chase them around into the next drainage, but to wait and let them settle down, so we headed back to our camp spot (straight up) and popped over the ridge behind and looked into that valley. Our camp was situated at the confluence of 3 drainages, sort of on a saddle between two big ridges. We spotted several bucks in the next drainage but none we really liked, so we decided on a strategy of taking it easy back at camp and going after the first group the next day. I didn’t think they would be far since they had not winded us.
The next morning was a typical Fall day in the Sangres. Bluebird sky with no breeze, but pretty cold for September. After coffee and a quick breakfast of our leftover MRE desserts, we started out. We had taken a quick look around and saw nothing at first, but then about halfway down to the creek , Kenny spotted a buck that was almost in the same spot as the ones from the day before, just higher up the mountain. We hunkered down and looked him over and he started looking better all the time, especially since he was all by himself, and there wouldn’t be eighteen sets of eyes on the lookout for trouble.
He was tall and about 26 inches wide with good forks, and almost in range already. My Leica said 700 yards, but we knew we could cut that almost in half with no worry of spooking him. We made our way slowly to a rise in front of us after watching him bed down in a shale slide with a rock face behind him. As we slowly came over the rise, I lasered him again as Kenny was getting his bipods set up. 400 yards exactly, but at a steep uphill angle. I have not yet got a cosine indicator, and as such I just told him to take about 2 clicks less than he normally would and send it. Well, I should have said 4 clicks.
At the shot, I saw the bullet hit the rock behind him, just over the top of his back. I called the shot as he jumped and ran about 20 yards side hilling and stopped, looking back at his bed. Kenny adjusted and held a little lower, and put the next one right through his shoulder. That is when I realized how steep it was to where the buck was bedded, because he rolled for at least 300 yards, coming dang near right to us.
Well, after admiring him and taking a few pictures, this is when we knew the fun was over and the work to pack him out started. After caping, quartering and de-boning we laid the meat in the shade and headed back to camp. Kenny was able to get a text message out to his twin brother, who met us at the parking spot the next morning and along with another buddy, made short work of packing the meat out. This was just perfect with me, as my arthritic knees had already endured about as much punishment as they could stand.
If you want to test yourself against some of the toughest , most beautiful country that God ever made, check into the early season rifle mule deer tag in unit 86 in Colorado.
On a side note, I can’t stress how great a tool Google Earth is for scouting for hunting opportunities. I had put a push pin in the map at the place I had seen those bucks 20 years before, and he killed his buck within 500 yards of the location. There was a large slab of rock about the size of a pool table where we butchered the buck, so we kind of used it as a table. After a few days I looked back on Google and I could actually see this same rock!!!
Any time you go into this high country, be prepared. At this altitude weather can turn dangerous very quickly. Always take survival gear and give some responsible person an itinerary of where and when you are going and coming, just in case. Good luck and great hunting.
Allen Jones is a water well contractor in central Colorado. He has lived and hunted with gun and bow in Colorado since moving there in 1975. He is a former state champion and all-American trapshooter and also loves long range shooting, varmint hunting and Texas hold em poker.
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