My youngest son and I just spent a few days hunting here in the Washington Cascades. Very nice time with the young man. Unfortunately we only took one buck, and I was the shooter. We didn't have my long-range rifle with us, just a couple of standard Rem 700's in .25-06 and 6mm Rem. Hunted some pretty rough country and covered some tough ground.
We stayed out of the real high country a few miles away though!
Right about the end of legal shooting light we located a young mule deer buck well below us in the canyon. Couldn't tell for sure if he was a legal buck. Must have three points on one antler to be legal. Low light and distance conspired against learning that. Put him to bed, and got off the mountain. We were back at dawn. My son parked himself above the rocks where we'd seen the buck the night before, his trusty 6mm Rem ready.
I headed out on a hike, swinging wide around, and at about a half-mile I noticed our buck in a somewhat different location, a couple of hundred yards below my son, hanging out in a thicket near the rocks. He was clearly a buck, but still I couldn't see if he was legal, tough to get a good look at him in that thicket. Too danged far for a shot with the sporter weight .25-06 anyway. Stalked closer... Cross compartment. Pretty tough. Fell once. Ugh! Topped the last intervening ridge and there he was at 175 yards. Bedded down with his head under/in the brush! Still couldn't see if he was a legal buck. I settled in, got into a good sitting position, rigged the loop sling just like at the target range and waited... Snapped a few photos. Snacked and drank some water. Waited... If the buck ever woke up from his nap and moved he had four ways to go. North or East, my son would have the shot from about 200 yards. West or South, I'd have the shot at 175 - 200 yards... I was really hoping the buck would step out where my son could take the shot... After about an hour and a half, the buck stood up, browsed a bit, and exposed himself as a legal 3x3, then he stepped out, my direction. My .25-06 spoke and the 115 gr Berger pierced both shoulders, lodging under the skin on the off-side. He fell instantly into the rocks below.
The smallest buck I've ever shot, but I was glad that we got him, hunting on public land only a few miles from home. We quartered him up right on those rocks, stuffed him in our backpacks and hiked back up out of the canyon with him. Sure was good to have a strong teenager along to help!
He didn't get a buck, but my son is still holding a doe tag, and we'll see about filling that in November.