Arizona, DIY, Public Land
One summer while scouting I found the biggest typical desert mule deer I had ever seen. This buck had tremendous mass and occupied a lot of my thoughts for many months to come. We were able to locate him several times, but the season ultimately came to a close without the sweet smell of success.
The following year I was unable to hunt, but two years later I was after him again. Due to the way he commanded attention, I had given him the nickname “Stud.” He was a dominant buck that was also exceptionally keen. The general area he called home was always pressured hard by archery and general deer hunters.
With less than two weeks until opening day, I found several bucks in other locations, but most of them had underdeveloped antlers due to drought conditions. After several more scouting trips, I was still unable to locate Stud, but I did find a huge two-point. My hopes were dwindling as the hunt quickly approached.
On the first afternoon, I gathered my gear and quickly made my way up to my lookout. With less than 30 minutes of daylight left, I was able to pick out a big-framed buck. I decided to get a closer look, but as I cut the distance, I immediately found the buck feeding away from me. When he finally raised his head, I was disappointed; it was the big two-point.
The next morning I again settled into my favorite spot. After an hour of glassing, I spotted three nice bucks. Instantly, I knew that Stud was not in the group. I watched the bucks bed down and knew it could be a long day. It was 8 a.m. and over 90 degrees. The bucks in this desert country hit their beds early, so I knew my chances were slim to find my first-choice buck, but I decided to give it another hour before I headed out after them.
After a few minutes of torture, I reached for my water bottle. Just then I caught a glimpse of something. I swung my binos in that direction and felt the adrenaline rush when I realized it was Stud! He wasn’t as big as he was in 2005 - the combination of the drought and old age must have stunted his back end some - but make no mistake about it, he was still a great buck!
For a full account of Craig's adventure, go to page 30 in the May/June 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.