After thinking about the big buck all week, I decided I had to give it a try. A solid week of elk hunting really had my legs under me and I couldn't walk away leaving it untried.
Up at 4am, a 2 hour drive up a 4wd road into the basin, then a 2 1/2 hour hike put me up near the bucks. They fed out and skylined above me, 7 bucks total. I spotted them and had to wait for them to feed around the corner of the ridge. After holding tight about 15 minutes they were out of sight.
I had about 400 yards to cover, most of it being straight uphill to get above the bucks. At this point I was well above 13,000 feet and breathing hard.
I kept thinking I needed to slow it down, and not make too much noise. I finally arrived where they had fed around and I could hear them...but I couldn't see them. A few minutes later they fed underneath me. I picked up the rangefinder and took a reading, it told me the big buck was 33 yards away, with the steep hillside it read to hold for 31 yards.
I started to draw my bow and realized something didn't feel right. I used the rangefinder twice more, and got the same reading both times.
I watched the bucks, the big one was the closest (how lucky is that?) and I could get my first really good look at him. he was 29-30" wide and had great mass. He had forked G-4's on both sides making him look awesome. On his right side, with the forked G-4 he also had another extra, making him a 7x6.
I started to draw and they were all still relaxed and feeding broadside, I aimed with my 30 yard pin and waited, all of a sudden my bow went off and the shot felt perfect.
There is that moment when you know you just made a perfect shot, as the arrow is in flight, and then it happened.
The arrow dropped and went right underneath the buck. He blew out of there and stopped about 30 yards from where he had been standing and he had a tree between us. He stared up at where I was for the next five minutes keeping me pinned down.
I used my bino's to verify, it was a clean miss.
When he moved he blew out the bottom and up the other side, then over the pass into the next basin.
I walked down to where he had been standing and ranged back to my position, it read 45 yards. I started walking uphill until it read 31 yards and found myself standing in a small brush pile, that had grass coming up out of it. It is the only thing my rangefinder could have picked up on between me and the buck.
I went back and sat down trying to figure out what I could have done differently......but it was over.
The rest of the story is just details. The defining moments of the trip were memorable, just not the way I wanted!
I left the mountain heartbroken.
Wishing I could hunt high country mule deer all year round!
I missed a buck of a lifetime, my true trophy dream buck, and I will always look for one to live up to it.......