LAST EDITED ON Oct-28-12 AT 05:53 PM (MST)
Executive summary: 2 bucks within 10 minutes of each other on an Idaho public land hunt. A nice 4x4 and a 30.5 inch wide 6x7! Both were our biggest bucks to date. No official score yet.
The long story:
I started my day by waking up at 8am on the 23rd and going to my engineering class at Boise State University (go broncos!!). I would have never guessed that by the end of the day I would have killed my biggest buck to date!
I was done with class for the day by noon and the weather outside was horrible! Raining in the valleys but snowing up in the mountains, which mean one thing to a deer hunter: MIGRATION! Needless to say it was enough motivation for me to call up my good buddy, Derek, who works on a ranch in the mountains nearby to see if he was feeling up to an afternoon hunt on the ranch. After a brief phone call I had decided to head up to the hills to help Derek try to bag a buck. I was saving my serious deer hunting efforts for the November archery hunt and was going along on this hunt as more of a guide and coyote killer but I wasn't going to pass up a monster if I saw one.
I hurried up and packed my gear and was to the ranch by 2pm. We would start off the hunt in the low lands looking for a convenient deer in a place where mostly does and small bucks (2-points) normally hang out. There was very little snow down low and I felt the chances of me bagging a large buck were slim to none. By 3 pm we had seen everything the lower part of the property had to show us. . . nothing. Not a single deer. We decided then to head up into the Boise National Forrest on public land where the mountains were steep and the snow was deep.
We didn't have anywhere in particular to try but just decided to drive until we saw somewhere that looked "deery". My hopes of seeing deer and even a decent buck grew increasingly as we headed further into the mountains and the snow got deeper. As we drove around a corner I finally saw a large draw that looked promising. I stopped to glass the ravine and before I could get my binos up I saw a group of 9 deer 75 yards up the hill! Both Derek and I scramble for our rifles and scanned the deer one by one for head gear. They were all does but alas I found what I was looking for and the hunt was on!
I parked the truck and grabbed only my gun and binos and headed up the hill with Derek to a nice viewing area. It didn’t take long before we spotted our next group of deer about 500 yards up the ravine. We made a short stock on them and got within 200 yards but as odds would have it they were all does. I stopped to glass more area and deer were now coming out of the woodwork. Before we knew it we had spotted about 30 deer in this one drainage but all were does! Our curiosity of what the next drainage held was too much to resist.
We started our 800ft ascent up the ridge to the next drainage and the hillside was lined with deer tracks in 4 inches of fresh snow! Our anticipation to reach the top of the ridge pushed our pace and before we knew it we carefully working our way through some brush on the top of the ridge. I eased up onto the ridge crest taking my time. I pulled the binos to up to look some brush about 60 yards away. When I looked through the binos all I would see were ears and horns! I dropped down low and my knees and motioned to Derek that a shooter buck was in the group. He asked me if I wanted to take the buck since I spotted it but I decided to pass on it even though I had only gotten a glimpse of the buck I was going to let him take the deer. I handed him my rifle and we both stood up. Derek took aim with the gun while I was watching the scene through my binos. BOOM. . . miss. The deer started to run off but they must not have heard where the shot came from and they stopped and looked around confused. I told Derek to use my shoulder as a rest this time and to take another shot. Boom! The buck did the tell tale jump of getting hit. He and 2 does went behind a pine tree and only 2 does came out from behind it!
“Derek he’s down, you got him! Good job dude!” His deer lay dead at the bottom of the tree. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another buck run over the ridge but was more concerned at keeping track of the one we already had that I didn’t even take notice the size of second buck’s rack. Derek through my gun back at me and yelled “Oh my god! Did you see that other deer?! He has to be some kind of record! Let’s go get him!”
I reluctantly took off running through the snow after Derek and the other buck that, according to Derek was the next world record! We ran over the ridge to the next drainage where the second buck had disappeared. We saw another 20 deer and a small buck in the next drainage as we were glassing the hill sides for this “world record”. I was becoming impatient with Derek’s persistence and explained to him how I was holding out for the archery season and how I didn’t think the other buck was even that large and that by now he was probably halfway to Libya. I leisurely walked over to a rock to steady my rifle and watched group after group of deer leave the drainage. 5 minutes had passed and I was ready to go back to Derek’s deer to start the pack out and that’s when the largest deer I had ever seen in the wild came strolling out of a stand of trees not even 150 yards from where we had been sitting. It took me 1 microsecond to make the decision that I wanted this deer on my wall “Good god that’s a beast” I exclaimed as I steadied my aim on the rock and waited for the deer to stop. Through my scope I would see a drop tine, kickers and cheaters. . . thank god for that rock I was steadied on because I had buck fever! The buck paused and looked back at us, this was my chance to kill the buck of a lifetime and I wasn’t about to waste it! BOOM! Like Derek’s deer had done 10 minutes earlier the monster buck in my scope did the “I’m hit jump”. He trotted 10 yards and went face down on the snowy slope!
I laid my gun down and sat back on the hillside breathing heavily. I couldn’t believe what had just happened! With our reaction you would have thought Derek and I had just won the lottery! High-fives, yelling, jumping and yes . . even a hug!
“I told you he was a beast!” Derek yelled!
After some celebratory jumping around it was time get a closer look at the trophy buck. As we walked up on this buck he seemed to get bigger and bigger and by the time he was in my hands I couldn’t believe my eyes! There was permanent smile on my face as we took pictures and field dressed the animal. How could I not smile with a 30.5 inch wide 6x7 with huge eye guard, drop tines and kickers!
Two nice bucks down in 10 minutes with 45 minutes of sunlight left! Perfect! I caped out my deer and we headed back up the mountain to recover Derek’s deer. Through all the excitement we didn’t take much notice of the size of Derek’s buck and we were happily surprised to return to a decent 4x4. We hauled his out that night and retrieved mine the next day. It was hard work but a great hunt we will always remember.