My wife and I talked briefly and decided to go higher up and at the mouth of the canyon and see if anything was still bugling. As we got closer, we could hear what sounded like smaller bulls bugling. We proceeded to see if we could get a set up on a bull before it got dark. We tied off our horses at the same spot as before, and continued on foot. As we got a little closer to the bugles, there was a slight breeze from the south. We topped over a little rise and I spotted a buck feeding out in front of us.
We immediately crouched down and I got out my binoculars to look over the buck. He was a main-frame 4 point with a cheater on one side and some other trash on the other. He wasn't real wide, but to pass on a buck that looked like that, I felt would be a big mistake. I pulled out my rangefinder and ranged him at 53 yards. I loaded an arrow, drew my Hoyt Maxxis bow back, settled the 50 yard pin right behind his shoulder. As I released, I saw the arrow disappear behind the shoulder of the buck. He hunched his back and then started to walk off. I saw where I thought he was going to go, ranged the trees, 81 yards. When the buck got the tree line, I drew my bow, whistled, and the buck stopped broadside and looked at me. The second arrow was on its way and found its mark, right through the boiler room. The buck jumped and took off into the trees.
I felt that I had made two good shots on this buck and was pretty convinced that he wouldn't make it very far. I told my wife who was sitting right behind me that we might have time to get a crack at one of those bulls above us. We made a play for those bulls, but after a few minutes the bulls lost interest and made their way to the aspen grove above us and disappeared over the top of the ridge. Running low on light, we quickly made our way to where we had last seen the buck. He made it only another 10 yards into the tree line and that is where he gave up.
The buck had 5 points on his right side, including a cheater, and eight points on his left side. I, of course, was pretty excited. After some high fives with my wife and some pictures, we field dressed the deer and prepared to hang it for the night when we could come back with another horse to carry it out the next day.
When we returned the next day, I brought my son with me. I had planned on getting out there earlier, but when I had caught the horses early that morning, I noticed that my horse had thrown a shoe the night before on the way out. I had to wait for my farrier to get to work and fix it and then we would be on our way.
When we arrived out there, my plan was to leave my son in a blind across from where a waterhole and wallow was and then I would go and take care of my deer and then come back and check on him. I waited for him to hike down to the blind, and then I took the horses to where I had left my deer. Imagine my surprise when I went to the area I had left my deer, only to find it gone. I couldn't believe my eyes. My first thought was, “Someone stole my deer.” I was upset to say the least.
I started looking around and finally found some drag marks. I followed them down the ridge about 40 yards, where I found my carcass. I mean literally, my carcass. The bears had gotten a hold of my deer, drug it down the hill and had a feast on my buck. I had seen a few bears in the area, some with cubs. I was not able to salvage any of the meat on the deer, because they had munched on every portion of the body, and judging from the smell, I think that they urinated on it also. The only thing I was able to retrieve was the antlers. This was just natures way of saying to me, “You are not the only predator in the forest.”
I grabbed the horses and returned to the area above our blind. I grabbed my gear and headed down the ridge to meet up with my son and we were going to wait there all day. I had a couple of trail cams set up around the waterhole and it showed that elk, deer, and bears were coming in at all different times of the day, so we thought we would just wait and see if anything came in.
It was about 5:00 p.m. when we heard the first bugle. It appeared that the bugles were getting a little bit closer, so we decided that we would try to set up on this bull and see if we could get him close enough for a shot for my son. I hung back and cow called while he moved up the ridge. I told him to try to get to the edge of the tree line where he could see pretty well but stay in the trees to stay concealed. As the bull got closer, he quit bugling and he would just chuckle at us. Finally, I was able to lure the bull into bow range for Kayden. He ranged the bull at 35 yards as he stopped to look down the hill for the cow that was making all that noise. Kayden was able to make a great shot right behind the shoulder. I heard Kayden shoot and the bull start to run off.