Re: Follow up on the \'Once-in-a-lifetime\' Trophy Deer Hunt
Sorry for the delays on continuing the 'play-by-play' of the Big buck hunt. I don't mean to offend any of the impatient among you. Between Elk hunting and work, I haven't had much will to write lately. Here is the next installment:
Following my encounter with the big buck at Pine Mountain, I had to take a few days off from hunting to work. It snowed heavily both days, especially the first of the two. The wind also picked up, drifting the snow. I returned to hunting on a Friday. Five days of the hunting season remained. It was questionable whether I would be able to get the last two days off (Monday and Tuesday). My first order of business was to return to Pine Mountain and attempt to find the ‘big buck’ again. We were off to a very early start. After a snow-drift-busting bonanza, we arrived at the area were I had spotted the bucks three days earlier. We parked the truck and began walking. We walked every draw, canyon, and ridge line in the area, looking for the group of bucks. When that proved to be unfruitful, we went over the top, searching for them in the direction that they were moving when we last saw them. Still no sign, and by no sign, I mean not EVEN one footprint in the snow. I decided to return to the truck and continue the search by vehicle, where I could cover more ground in less time (in theory). Once at the truck, we decided to go up the road further, looking for footprints crossing the road in the snow and walking out to vantage points to glass. We did not make it far, maybe a mile, before the drifts became insurmountable. Conveniently, the thought crossed my mind that the deer may have moved further down with the recent snowfall, so down we went. As we descended and it began to warm up, the snow on the roads began to melt and things got downright sloppy and unpleasant. A couple of miles from where we had started walking in the morning, we spotted some fresh tracks crossing the road. There appeared to be four deer in the group and three of sets of the tracks were larger than the fourth. They were moving down hill. We got out and followed them for a while. They were definitely on the move. Eventually the trail dropped off of the sage brush flats and down into no-mans-land. We glassed for a bit, but all I saw was Wiley. I let him live, this time. Discouraged, I decided it was time to make a big move and try another area for the evening hunt.
As the day wore on and as we moved down in elevation, the roads became progressively worse. It was early in the afternoon and our hopes of catching a buck out of his bed were slim, but still we looked. We were driving around the base of Potter Mountain, a smaller, lower elevation mountain with deep washes, tall sage brush, lots of cedar trees, and red rock formations. Potter Mountain was rumored to be the home of the biggest buck in the entire hunting area, the legendary ‘Potter Mountain Buck’, more of a ghost than a real deer. We had briefly scouted Potter Mountain in the pre-season and did not see a single deer. A friend had scouted it more thoroughly with the same outcome. As we rounded a corner in the road, we saw a road grater approaching us. It was a ways off, but we decided to pull off the road in an area where we would not get stuck and wait for it to pass. There were some other hunters closely following the road grater. As the grader approached my wife and I simultaneously saw movement in the tall sagebrush across the road and slightly behind us, about 150 yards away. Instinctively, we both grabbed our binoculars and brought them to bear on the source of the movement. It was a VERY large buck. He was up and running straight for the top of the nearest hill. In a couple seconds he was gone. We hurried and began looking at the opposite side of the road from the buck as the road grader and other hunters passed us. You know, to throw them off. The hunters passed us, then stopped and glassed for a second in the direction that we were looking, then they left. Apparently they had not seen the buck. I am sure that we would have never seen this buck if it were not for the road grader spooking it out of its well-hidden bed. I could not tell how wide this buck was, or how many points it had. I couldn’t even be sure that it was the biggest buck that I had seen in my life, although if it was not the biggest it was a close second. It was definitely the biggest buck that my wife had ever seen and it was the biggest buck we had seen on this hunt. I didn’t get a long enough look to really evaluate the rack beyond the initial impressions of large, wide, very heavy, points going everywhere, and this thing is huge. Did I mention that it was huge? Anyway, as soon as the other hunters were gone, I grabbed my rifle, backpack, shooting sticks, shooting rest, and GPS. Somehow I still forgot the water. We went after the buck. There was still snow on the ground so I knew we could track him, and if it took all day to do so, so be it. We were off.
Sorry for dragging this on, but I need to run, for now. I'll add "THE END" to it soon. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]