In Hunting, Luck is Earned
Mar/Apr 2011 EBJ (Issue 64)
Utah, 2010, DIY, Public Land
- Morning after morning as I came strolling into work a little later than normal, my coworkers would ask where I went. “Same place,” I would reply, always trying to be as vague as possible.
My co-workers would always follow me into my office upon my arrival to see the latest video footage I had. When you work for an archery manufacturing company, there’s never a shortage of spies trying to milk as much information out of you as possible - and they all have their theories. I usually go quiet and put on my poker face whenever they start their guessing.
I had started hunting some of the high country basins near my home and with my daily treks up the mountain I received a lot of heckling. I’d regularly hear comments like, “If you keep going up there, those bucks are going to call you mommy and follow you home”, or “We’ll have to put a tracking device in your car so we can follow you.”
Over the last few years, I’ve passed on a lot of good bucks while in pursuit of a great buck. Some of you may be on a quest for the same thing - knowing that you have to pass some good ones in order to get the great ones. This year I wanted to be different. I knew there were some great bucks in those high basins, and I was going to figure out how to finally bring one home.
Last year’s stories were filled with “almosts” and “not quites” regarding a buck that would likely break the 200-inch barrier. This year found me wanting to know what was up there in those basins before the bucks were even done growing antlers. By early summer, I had my pack loaded and I was ready to start hiking into the backcountry.
My experience is that these high country bucks like to hang out between 8,000-10,000 feet and the trailheads here all start at 6,000-7,000 feet. I know what you’re thinking - that’s only a couple thousand feet – but I was doing it at 3:30 a.m. in the dark so that I could make it to work by 7:30 or 8:00. I’m a big believer that you really do earn your luck in hunting and I was going to do what it took this year to earn it.
Once to twice a week from late June until the hunt started in late August, I was making this trek into the backcountry to glass and film these monster bucks. This year’s biggest buck happened to be the same buck I had chased last year - a 34-inch 6x8 we named the “Match Buck” for his matching cheaters.
By the time the hunt arrived, my dad, brother, and I had at least eight shooter bucks located and partially patterned. The basin I planned on hunting not only had the “Match Buck”, but also had the “Backside Buck”, another great buck over 30 inches wide and easily worthy of shooting. He got his name by only showing me his backside in most of the scouting videos.
“You’re the person I really hope gets one,” said one of my co-workers. “You’ve put more work into it than anyone else.” Those words echoed in my mind as we began the climb into the high basins the evening prior to the hunt.
Opening day came and went and was once again filled with funny stories, careless mistakes, and a crowded mountain like any other public-land hunt. My dad and brother had seen very little and had hunts messed up by other hunters in the area. I had an opportunity at the Match Buck but got busted moving in on him in his bed.
A couple of days later on a cold and wet morning, I found myself sitting on a ridge glassing. It had rained hard the night before, and the winds had kept me up most the night. It was one of those mornings when you come out of the tent and expect to see dark, cloudy skies but are welcomed by a starlit horizon and a full moon. As I sat there glassing in the cold, the whole mountain seemed to be begging for the sun to come out and warm things up.
Just before sunrise, I caught a glimpse of the Backside Buck feeding on an open hillside. This was the first time I’d ever seen him alone and I figured that this might be a good chance to catch him off-guard and fulfill my lifetime goal of bagging a 30-inch buck.
For a full account of Micah's adventure, go to page 36 in the March/April 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.