Men Crying in Man Country.
In 2007 my twin brother Casey was able to harvest a 170 inch B&C class Mule Deer on public land with a general season tag. Being twins, my goal was to do the same. For four years we scouted and hunted hard to accomplish this goal again. It turns out the fifth year was the year for me.
2012 started with the Utah big game drawing in which I obtained a Dedicated Hunter permit. The permit allows a person to hunt all three seasons. Archery, muzzleloader, and Rifle. Only being able to harvest two deer in a three year period (only one Mule Deer a year). With the tag in the books it was time to get outside and see what we could find for the up coming hunts.
For us, scouting trips happened as often as possible. Sometimes even daily. If I worked a closing shift I would be up on the hill at sun up and make it to work before 12:30pm. If I worked a opening shift I would be in the mountains from 5:00pm until it was to dark to see. During these trips my brother and I found a few areas that held a buck or two. I would mark on topo maps the location of the animals and write in a small book the times and dates the animal would be seen. Trying to keep a tab on the animals until the hunt started.
First up was the archery hunt. We hunted hard everyday we could but work really didn’t allow us to get out as much as we would have liked and the bucks were getting smarter and harder to find. Up next was the muzzleloader hunt. To be honest, this was the hunt that I put most of my time into. I took every day off of work but one, and hunted every minute of it. But the same results as the archery hunt. No buck down. When the muzzle loader hunt ended I was pretty down, but once again, the best part about D.H. programs is that I still had one hunt left. The rifle hunt!
The rifle hunt began on the 20th of October. That day I found myself at work day dreaming of Mule Deer and itching to get out on the mountain. The 21st was my “Opening day”. First thing that morning we spotted a buck that we found early in the year on our scouting trips. The buck probable would score around 160 B&C and was a slick four point. Watching the deer from a distance I decided to let the buck walk away. This was probably one of the best decisions of my life.
Monday Morning we both found ourselves glassing from a familiar spot. The first hour or so we only turned up a few small bucks plus a bonus! Two bull elk. Being that I love anything with antlers I watched them for awhile through my spotting scope. Keeping my eye on the bulls I noticed Casey turn his spotting scope in a different direction glassing behind us. We have glassed the area before and never really saw anything that way. All the sudden I hear him say, “There’s a buck. He looks pretty good too”. I took a look through his scope. Being three miles away I couldn’t get a great view of the animal but I knew we needed to get closer. I told Casey to keep a eye on him and I would move a mile or so closer and see if I could get a better look I gathered my things and was on my way. When I cut the distance from the buck to about two miles as a crow flies I pulled my spotting scope out and put it on the tripod and radioed to Casey telling him to hike to me. As I’m looking thru the scope I still can’t get a great look at him. As Casey walks up I tell him, “keep hiking. Get closer and I will keep a eye on him”. About 15 minutes goes by and I hear Casey on the radio telling me that he is watching him. Once again I pack up my things and head over. Walking up to Casey his eye was stuck on the scope! I Sit down next to him and take a glance through the Spotter. All I remember seeing was big fronts. I turned to Casey and said, “I’ve seen enough! I’m Going after him”.
I knew the hike was going to be thick, steep, and long, but I was ready. So I thought. I forgot water. I left it all with Casey. I decided to take my time and try to keep my mind off the water. I peak over one ridge and pull out the range finder. 600 yards. Not close enough. I peak over another ridge. 420 yards. Still not close enough. There was only one more ridge line between me and the buck. I creep over the top and pull the range finder out again. 242 yards. Money!
Sitting and waiting I couldn’t help but think about water. I knew I was in bad shape and going down this mountain in the dark would not be a good idea so I made a decision. Not one I am proud of but it worked. I knew he was bedded behind a pine tree so I pulled my 7mm-08 up and placed a bullet up and to the right of the tree about 15 yards to spook him out. He came out like a rocket! Moving down and to the left I fallowed him through my scope. He started slowing down and then he stopped. BOOM! I let him have it. Hearing that unmistakable noise of lead hitting hide. Just before he went over the next ridge I put another one in him. Again hearing the noise.
It was getting dark and I knew that I needed to find him and get down to some water. I made a mistake. I bumped the buck while looking for him. I thought I would never see him again. I really hated myself for doing that. I decided to back off and come up in the morning to look for him. On the way down the canyon I gave my buddy Mike a call. I knew he would be the only guy that would look at the mountain and say, “lets go get him”. While on the phone with Mike I think he could hear in my voice how I was feeling and with no question he said yes. Talk about a sleepless night.
The next morning we started on the hike I did the day before. This time with lots of water. On the way up I’m playing the hunt over and over in my head. We get to the location where I last seen the buck. We split up just a bit and start the search. After 5 minutes, which seemed like for ever I hear Casey, “There he is!”. I can’t tell you how amazing I felt at that moment! Only 20 yards from where I seen him last. He was fine. Walking up to him I couldn’t help but tear up. I think all of us were tearing up at this point because of all the work Casey and I put into finding a buck like this. Mike knew how much it meant to us so I think he was tearing up to. What a great moment for all of us. Men crying in man country!
The buck scores 177 7/8. I call him 178. His G4’s are 12 ½ inches and 11 ½ inches. it’s the best buck either Casey and I have taken and it feels great. I would Like to thank Mike F. for everything. You are a beast!