Since the wife decided that she needed a break from the snow and mud, I invited a friend from work who had drawn the same tag. We met at the Maverick store at 5:00 am. We decided to start off the morning trying a place that another friend from work had told us about. He had seen a very large buck there a few times while scouting for his daughters’ hunt. Neither one of us had hunted this area (Little Bitter Creek) before. We arrived there with some time to spare before legal shooting light. While we waited for it to get light, we discussed our expectations for a ‘shooter’ buck. I was looking for a four-point or better that was at least as wide as his ears, my friend, Jim, was looking for a 3-point or better, but would consider a two-point later in the day. Then Jim said, “If we see a good buck and you have a shot, just take it and don’t worry about who saw it first or anything else like that; same goes for me”. I said “sound’s fair”.
At legal shooting light we walked around the area and glassed for a couple of hours. We did not see a single deer. We finally decided to relocate for the rest of the day. On the drive out, we saw some deer in the cedars across the canyon from us, just below the far ridgeline. We stopped and put the spotting scope on them. Jim was behind the spotting scope, since they were on his side of the truck and said “There’s a decent three point…Oh, and there’s a nice four point! He looks like a shooter.” I said how big? He replied, “He’s tall… I don’t think you‘d be disappointed with him.” I asked, “Do you want him?” He replied “too far for me… take him if you can.” I put in the token “Are you sure?”, then grabbed my rifle, range finder, pack, and a sand bag and headed for a small, flat, clearing just off the road. I set up for the shot (prone off of my backpack), ranged the buck at 499 yards, dialed the elevation on the scope (almost no wind), and got behind the rifle just in time to see the buck walk behind/between two large cedar trees and lay down. Once he was there, I no longer had a shot. I waited behind the rifle for him to stand and/or move away from the trees. After a while, I clicked on the safety and put the crosshairs on the 3-point. I was remarkably steady with the pack and the rear bag. For some reason I felt a little tempted to take the three-point. Eventually I got a kink in my neck and had to get out from behind the rifle. I then noticed that I had some spectators who had pulled up and were watching. I left my rifle on the bags and walked over to Jim to discuss the situation. Jim suggested that he could go up the canyon a ways, cross, and get above the deer incase they went over the top, while I continued to wait for the buck to move out from behind the cedars.
I watched through the spotting scope while Jim worked his way across the canyon. Just as he was about to cross over the ridge above the deer (and up the canyon several hundred yards from them) the four-point stood up and stretched. I hurried over and got behind my rifle and found the buck in the scope. He had moved about 10 yards from the trees and was at 505 yards, broadside. As I settled the crosshairs the three-point stepped directly in front of him and stood there. I held where I thought his shoulder should be and waited for one of them to move. As I waited for what seemed like forever, I noticed that I was not as steady as I had been earlier (wonder why). Eventually the three-point stepped out of the way. I held on the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. I completely lost my sight picture with the recoil. When I recovered the four does and the three-point were looking at me, but had not moved. I couldn’t see the four-point. I felt good about the shot, but had some doubts because I did not hear a thwack following the shot. As I continued to look for the four-point, the rest of the herd grazed a little, and then walked over the ridge towards Jim. I waited for him to shoot, but heard nothing.
After a few minutes, I worked my way over and met up with Jim. He said that he had a good shot at the three-pointer, but was waiting for the four-point to walk out behind it, since he thought I had missed. This was based on not hearing the thwack after the shot and by the look on my face after the shot (I’m not sure what he meant by that, but it could have just been my reaction to the recoil).
We went over and looked for the buck. I started where he was standing at the shot. I expected to find him dead there, but didn’t even see blood. Jim had cut his tracks directly below, and was following them. I was starting to doubt myself; then Jim motioned for me to come over. He pointed to a few drops of blood. Now I knew he was hit, but the small amount of blood had me worried. As we followed his tracks down the canyon, I started to think about how long this day could be. I started feeling a little sick. Then we walked around a cedar tree and there he was, dead!
He had covered just under 100 yards, running straight downhill, after the shot. He was hit about 3 inches lower than where I had aimed (high shoulder), which means he was hit dead center through both shoulders. The entrance wound was a small hole through the onside shoulder blade, the exit was about 3-inches in diameter with some shattered bone hanging out. The offside shoulder was completely broken. I was amazed that he made it as far as he did.
A couple high fives and then the work began. The “spectators” turned out to be some co-workers. I didn’t get a chance to talk with them until later, but when I did, they said it was a nice ½ mile shot that I made. I laughed and said the canyon made it look a lot further than it really was.
Here's a few pictures:
Deer and the rifle that killed it:
The exit wound:
A sucessful season with the Wife's deer and mine (she likes her's the most because it's more cute):
Killsite looking back to the shooting site (minus ~ 100 yards):
Overall, it was a great hunt. I didn't bag the "Once-in-a-lifetime" buck that I was after, but had my chance, and I had a good time. The odds are that I will draw the tag again in about 20-years, so maybe I'll get another chance.