Coming Full Circle

By Caleb Barclay
Colorado, 2009, DIY, Public Land
Coming Full CircleJan/Feb 2011 EBJ (Issue 63) - After nearly four months of workouts and shooting sessions, I felt my body was ready for the rugged extremes waiting for me on the Continental Divide. Beyond the physical preparation, my confidence was bolstered by the lessons learned from numerous failed attempts on mule deer stalks in years prior.

I had been shown this area a few years earlier by two of my dad’s bowhunting buddies. Although I had not yet capitalized on an opportunity, I felt confident that my preparation would lead to improved results. What I didn’t know was that this year, all of my expectations would be blown away, along with many years of un-punched tags.

During the off-season every year, I spend countless hours questioning everything I do in preparation for the hunt, and this year was no different. I was committed to being in the best shape possible. In order to ensure this happened, I kept track of each workout and what I was doing to get myself ready.

After considerable research and debate, I changed my sight, arrows, and broadheads this year. Thankfully, once I began shooting with my new setup, I felt more confident than ever.

Weeks prior to the season opener, my dad and I spent a couple of days in our hunting area scouting for mule deer. During that time we saw many good bucks silhouetted on the crest of the Divide, but there were three deer in particular that had our attention. We could only hope that we would find them when the season opened.

We had scheduled two nine-day hunts in different wilderness areas beginning the last week of August, with a few days in between to make an appearance at work and repack. The first hunt would be dedicated to mule deer and the second hunt for elk. As usual, in the final days before we left, sleep came fitfully and I could hardly wait to hit the trail with my bow in hand.

Over the course of the first two days of hunting, we saw many deer, but only one situation presented a good opportunity for a stalk. This particular stalk had gone very well as I moved to within 50 yards of where I thought the deer were bedded. As I crept forward, I located a few landmarks that I had spotted from above to help locate the deer. Not seeing any sign of them, I let my guard down momentarily. Just then, the sound of heavy hooves and a glimpse of mule deer rumps indicated I had given up too early. There was a hill I had not seen before that hid them from my view, even though they lay only 50 yards from where I stood. I was angry with myself, but also recognized that this was just one more lesson in my highcountry education.

Caleb Barclay

For a full account of Caleb's adventure, go to page 14 in the January/February 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.