Utah, 2008, DIY, Public Land
After waiting nine long years to draw a coveted southern Utah archery deer tag, I was ecstatic to finally have one in hand. I spent the entire summer planning, scouting, networking, and shooting my bow everyday, and felt confident about the hunt.
We scouted for a week straight just before the hunt and saw plenty of deer, which built the level of anticipation even more. One area a friend told me about seemed to produce a good amount of larger deer, so we kept a close eye on that location in particular.
We headed down a couple of days before the hunt to get in some more scouting and set up a deluxe camp. My brother and my dad were joining me on the hunt, which meant a great deal to me. It was very special to have some of the most important people in my life there sharing this great experience with me. It was special to my dad, as well. Back in 1990, he had drawn this same tag. My brother and I were young but he had taken us along, so it was great for all of us to be back in the same place with the same tag.
The night before the hunt we spotted three huge bucks feeding out in a meadow. We watched them until dark and then headed back to camp with our minds racing. Sleep that night was very difficult; opening morning could not come quick enough!
The next morning my dad dropped my brother and me off before daybreak. We walked through the timber and grass with the sun just cresting over the mountain, enjoying both the day and the feeling of anticipation. We hunted hard all morning but the bucks we were after just couldn’t be found.
While my brother and I were hunting that area, my father went to check out another spot. Later that morning we met up with him and learned that he had spotted a big 5x5. The buck was bedded with some does and smaller bucks, and Dad had watched until they were all bedded. We grabbed a quick lunch were gone.
I tried a tough stalk on that buck but lack of cover made it impossible. The open terrain and few obstacles to use as a shield helped the buck win the first round.
Later, we were traveling down an old logging road way off the beaten path when a hunter stopped us. He said that he had just arrowed a great buck and that we might spook him if we kept going in the same direction. We started talking and before long it was almost dark. We helped him find and retrieve his buck, gladly giving the rest of our evening up to share in the fun of someone else’s success. The deer ended up being a nontypical 6x6 that green scored 214!
The next day was somewhat uneventful as far as seeing a mature buck, but we did see a few elk and a small bear. That night at camp we decided to hunt in the area where we had scouted earlier. It was worth a shot, and we still had a backup plan. Our newfound friends had told us of a buck they had seen quite a distance away from our camp.
That morning we got up early and headed into our chosen spot. As we were making our way down an old trail, we suddenly realized a herd of deer was staring right at us! It didn’t take long to lock my eyes onto a monstrous velvet-racked buck. I had seen this deer while scouting and knew instantly that he was the one I was after.
A plan was quickly whispered out. I had my brother and dad keep walking down the trail like they hadn’t seen them, while I held very still behind a tree. I prayed they wouldn’t spook and waited for them to settle down a little bit.
Suddenly, the other bucks that were with him spooked. It didn’t look like this buck was going to stick around, so I acted quickly. With my mind racing and the dream of my life just 30 yards away, I slowly pulled back my bow and told myself to just relax and think of this shot as if it was exactly like every other shot I had taken every day for the last six months.
The next sound I heard was the sound of my string launching an arrow at my dream buck. The shot looked good, but I was nervous as I watched the buck run toward my dad and brother. I waited five minutes and then asked them if they had seen him. They said, “No, we didn’t. Which way did he head after you shot? I said, “He went straight down by you two!” They let me sweat for a minute and then told me that the buck had dropped 20 yards in front of them. At first I didn’t believe them, but my heart started pounding and thoughts started racing though my mind. I made my way down to where they said the buck was and they pointed over to the thick brush.
I desperately looked that direction and there he was! When I saw him up close it was pretty emotional for all of us. This is what I had been dreaming of for nine years. To have my brother and dad with me at that moment meant the world to me, and made it so much more than just a great hunt; it was best experience of my life.
This huge typical gross scored 199- 2/8, and netted 194 Pope and Young. He also had exceptionally heavy mass and scored high despite being only 27-½ inches wide.