High Altitude Archery

By David Long

David LongDavid Long
Colorado, 2008, DIY, Public Land

I felt a sense of relief as I peeked over the edge of the rimrock cliff and saw that the lone buck was still lying comfortably in his bed. He was perched on a long, narrow bench at 12,000 feet, contently overlooking the large alpine basin below him. His velvet covered antlers protruded well above the stunted willows on this cold and wet September day. Thankfully, the rain and snow mix that had been falling all morning had kept the buck bedded during our entire three-hour stalk.

The sense of relief was short lived, however, as the rangefinder read 86 yards; our stalk was not yet complete. I took a couple of steps back from the edge and whispered to Nate Simmons, who was along to film my hunt, that we needed to close the gap a few more yards. I ranged a small ledge directly below and figured if we could make it down to that point, it would give me a shot I felt confident I could make.

So far, we had executed the perfect stalk. We had crossed the huge, mile-wide basin, climbed halfway up the opposite side, side-hilled across rockslides, avoided total disaster when we jumped a lone doe near the bedded buck, and then dropped down onto the ledge overlooking the buck’s bed – but that was the easy part! I was now starting to feel a little bit nervous. I knew that closing the few yards was not going to be an easy task considering the steep grade and loose rock.

Did I mention that I was also starting to feel a bit of pressure? The pressure was stemming from the fact that this was the fifth day of a seven-day hunt, and I knew that the number of remaining opportunities we would have to take a buck on film would be limited. Although it wasn’t necessarily a now or never situation, we were going to treat it as such.

Slowly backtracking a few yards, we managed to put the ledge between us and the buck. Once out of sight, we began our descent to the lower ledge. The wind was steadily drifting uphill, so our focus was solely on being quiet. Every step was planned and placed accordingly. One slight mistake and it would all be over.

David Long

For a full account of David's adventure, go to page 16 in the May/June 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.