Colorado, 2008, DIY, Private Land
I glanced at my brother, Chad, and a great friend, Pat, as they huddled deeper into the protection of the blind. We were trying to stay warm under the cold, rainy and thundering skies when I asked, “Are you ready to call it quits for the day?”
They both looked at me in surprise and said, “Knowing our luck, we would get out and look back to see the bucks feeding right in front of the blind.” I agreed and decided to take one last look for the buck that had frequented my thoughts for the past year...
The Colorado archery mule deer season couldn’t get started soon enough, because I spent most of the off-season reminiscing about the big mulie bucks I had seen the previous summer and fall. I was fortunate enough last year to take a gigantic, longtined mainframe 4x4 on the first evening of the season, but my main regret that haunted me throughout the past year was that I was unable to harvest the magnificent buck with my bow. I originally planned to hunt with my bow, but with time constraints and a good lead on a neighboring unit, I chose to end the hunt with my rifle. Being a die-hard archery addict, the decision to harvest the buck with a rifle bothered me for the duration of the year.
When the 2008 season came, I jumped at the chance to hunt with archery gear. My only concern was the high probability of winterkill because of the harsh winter conditions that Colorado had endured.
I spent the summer scouting, shooting my bow, and getting into good physical condition for the upcoming season. Antler growth looked good but seemed somewhat behind early on compared to previous summers.
With the season nearing, my scouting became focused on three particular bucks I had located in the area. I scouted mornings and evenings in one area, but could only find time to scout the other two areas on weekends. Each area contained several bucks with one outstanding buck that I considered a shooter, even on opening day. I studied each buck’s pattern from their feeding to bedding area in the mornings and from their bedding to their feeding areas in the evening. I paid special attention to the time of their travels, locations of travel corridors, and possible tree stand and ground blind locations.
With two weeks left before the season opener, my in-laws came to town for a visit. My father-in-law Jack and I began a tradition the year before of doing some pre-season scouting before the opener. This year would prove different, as we spent our middays setting up tree stands in cottonwoods en route to their bedding area and building a homemade ground blind where the bucks entered a feeding area. With everything built and placed in strategic locations, the waiting game for the much anticipated opening day began.
Opening morning found me sitting in a tree stand. My first choice buck had good mass, decent width, great length, and long sweeping beams. The trophy buck was alternating feeding and bedding areas, which complicated my plan. After a couple of hours in the stand, Chad and Pat picked me up and we headed to glass another area. We covered what seemed like every possible hiding place, even from different angles, but never saw the buck. We decided to go get breakfast and then head to our second choice area for the evening hunt. As we were heading out, we took one last look and Chad spotted the buck grazing in plain sight!
My brother and I immediately began our stalk and closed the distance quickly. Pat stayed behind to watch the buck through his optics and give us hand signals should the buck lie down.
As the stalk progressed, the buck bedded and we lost sight of him. We slowly closed the distance to bow range but had yet to see him. We knew we were close, so the plan was to be patient and wait for him to get up and stretch at mid morning. With the wind in our favor, the waiting game began.
For a full account of Cody's adventure, go to page 30 in the January/February 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.