Ruby Mountain Madness

By Scott Faiman

Ruby Mountain MadnessScott and Chris Faiman
Nevada, 2009, DIY, Public Land

It was well past noon as we sat and contemplated our next move. The relentless high desert heat had both of us questioning our sanity. August bowhunting in the Ruby Mountains is a never ending balancing act of hunting, fitness, and survival. It’s about as raw as it gets - there aren’t any ground blinds or alfalfa fields, and hiking 6-12 miles per day at 10,000 feet is the norm if you want to find quality deer and escape crowds. A sprained ankle was slowing me down and I decided a smart move would be to get off the mountain, but Chris thought looking at one more basin was in order. “Good luck, buddy,” were the last words I said prior to heading for the truck.

We were still high on the mountain and my son Chris had a hunch where he might find a group of bucks we had spooked earlier. He hoped to find them browsing one last time before he called it a season. Stalking browsing deer is his preferred way to bowhunt and he usually seems to weasel his way into bow range. I headed for the pickup, limping my way along.

It was our third weekend of the archery season and we were feeling dejected. We had spent several days looking for those lonely isolated haunts where big bucks hang out. We had hiked close to 75 miles of mountainous terrain in the last few weeks, with nothing to show for our efforts except blisters on top of blisters. We had to hunt in extreme heat on the opener, nearly froze to death in a high country ice storm on week two, and had been “denied” shooting opportunities on several occasions. I was beginning to believe what I had heard from a fellow archer at a tournament earlier in the season. He said, “Those who hunt the Rubies by choice are mad; there isn’t a bowhunt anywhere else in the country with such a high degree of difficulty. Not only is it inaccessible, but most of it is mountain goat country.”

I’ve always known the Rubies were the ultimate challenge; I just wasn’t sure everybody hunting them was mad. However, after eight days of physical and mental torture, aggravation was taking the place of satisfaction. On the bright side, we had learned some new areas and had seen some outstanding bucks.

Once again, my son’s hunt had come down to his last day, due to having to leave for college. We had an excellent morning and made two stalks that almost resulted in shooting opportunities, but it appeared our time and luck had run out. Chris was hoping for one last chance before the day was done.

Ruby Mountain Madness

For a full account of Chris's adventure, go to page 16 in the January/February 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.