Living On The Edge

By Brian Barney

Living on th edge

Brian Barney
Colorado, 2009. DIY, Public Land 

I calmed myself as I slipped into range of the two bucks, one of which was a giant typical. I’d been on a solo hunt in Colorado for a few days and had pushed hard for over 40 miles - and to the top of five different 13,000-foot peaks.

I spent the first two days in the middle of the largest wilderness area in my unit. I never saw a single deer, so I relocated to a different wilderness. Now I had this great buck in front of me.

I started the stalk down an avalanche chute that looked like a guaranteed death sentence. As I started down, it kept getting steeper and steeper. A few minutes in, I had to strap my bow to my back so I could climb down the near-vertical rock faces. It was a couple of degrees of difficulty past my skill level, but somehow I managed to get down without major incident.

I dropped my pack and took off my shoes to make the final preparations to start easing in. I tiptoed into bow range of the bucks with nothing but some overgrown brush between us. I tucked in and waited for him to give me a shot.

Hoping the thermals would hold, I ended up sitting there for 90 minutes before they finally got up to feed. The typical turned and came down farther than I expected. With him still unaware of my presence, I came to full draw, deciding from my previous range that he was 40 yards away.

I settled my pin and released, but the arrow sailed underneath the monster typical. It turns out he was actually 46 to 48 yards away. My heart sank. All the hard work, sacrifices, miles hiked, and endless shooting, only to miss a buck like that by mere inches. I had worked unbelievably hard to prepare for this hunt and was confident I could seal the deal when the time came. I think that’s why the pain of this miss cut me so deep.

I took a different way back up to camp, avoiding the treacherous avalanche chute. Back at camp, I sat down and thought about my two options. I could either throw my bow off the cliff or I could pick myself up and become a better bowhunter because of the miss. Looking around, I realized I was in one of the most pristine places on the planet and had to push on.

Living on the edge

For a full account of Brian's adventure, go to page 30 in the November/December 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.