Utah, 2009, DIY, Private Land
The first time I saw this buck, his narrow spread and balanced rack had me thinking he was only in the 160 range. Like many other deer I had seen on scouting trips so far he just “wasn’t my buck,” I thought. Looking back now, it makes me ill to think that I was actually going to pass up this deer. I watched this buck from time to time, usually from 1500 yards plus, not thinking too much about him, other than he was a good buck that just needed another year.
The general season bow opener started with me trying to help a buddy get a 170-class buck near where I grew up. After my friend missed a shot at this buck opening morning, we spent the next day chasing the same buck with no more luck. We decided to give him a break and go elsewhere.
On a Sunday night, my friend Ben Nagus and I decided to go up and see if any other bucks had joined with that tall, narrow buck we had scouted earlier in the year. That night, we saw him much closer than we had before (600 yards). That’s when I realized just how big he was. Let’s just say I was a little excited and amazed at the same time that I had not paid attention to him. Unfortunately, he was in a bad area for any kind of a sneak.
Monday morning produced an almost identical scenario, but that night he was closer to a creek and feeding out in the open. This is where things got interesting. After running through all the options, I only had one choice; get in the creek. I was going to have to attempt to float down the creek somewhat on my back and get close to that buck.
After I had closed the distance to 27 yards, the buck fed behind a tree. Being patient wasn’t easy, and I had to watch for ten more minutes while lying in that water. Then the buck fed straight away from me and into a wide open clearing. Upset, soaking wet, and disappointed, I headed back to the truck. After being that close and getting a firsthand, upclose experience, I didn’t get much sleep that night.
The next morning I headed out again early. Amazingly, he was only 40 yards from where he had been the night before. With swirling winds and thick brush, I decided the only way to get this buck was to get back in the creek; it was the only place I could keep quiet and keep my scent to a minimum. Keep in mind that it was 6:45 a.m. and about 45 degrees outside. To say the least, it was a cold 300-yard float/swim to the buck.
For a full account of Travis's adventure, go to page 40 in the January/February 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.