Wide Open Spaces

By Patrick Halde
Colorado, 2010, DIY, Private Land
Wide Open SpacesMay/June 2011 EBJ (Issue 65) - Due to the fact that Dad didn’t like venison, I was never able to pursue big game. That all changed when I was finally able to convince him to get me a bow in January of 2010. Like any good hunter, I went out several different times during the summer, scouting different areas and finding several nice bucks that I would be more than happy to shoot. The terrain I would be hunting was wide open - CRP grasslands, sagebrush, and native grasslands. Trees are basically nonexistent.

When opening weekend finally came, I found three bucks, including a 5x5, bedded in a bottom, hiding in the four-foot-tall grass. I made notice of the wind and began my stalk. They started walking toward me, so I scrambled to a large patch of grass and got set up for a shot.

At 40 yards, I drew back and fired. It didn’t even faze them. They just kept on walking, so I grabbed another arrow and fired again. This time the bucks spotted me and took off. I had just missed my chance at my first buck, and a really nice one to boot.

Not to be deterred, I went out several more times until first rifle season, when the buck I was after was taken. Knowing there were still several good bucks in the area I kept my head up and went in search of another buck.

That Saturday was opening weekend of pheasant season. After a restless night, I woke up and decided to go back out in search of a buck I had seen the day before.

After searching in vain, I was about to give up when I saw a herd of deer. They were far enough away that I couldn’t tell exactly how big the buck was, but I could tell he was definitely big enough to shoot. As I got closer, I began to see that the big buck wasn’t big - he was HUGE!

The herd spotted me and took off, and I saw the two kickers coming off each side of this awesome rack. They continued north and moved into some sage and yucca plants. I watched for three hours while a nice 5x5 and the monster buck alternately foraged and chased off some younger bucks.

While I sat and watched, I studied the ground and tried to devise a plan on how to approach undetected. Finally, after everything bedded down, I took my chance. I moved into the creek and started my approach. The 5x5 got up and walked toward me as I got into the creek. He then lay down within 80 yards of me! I had to convince myself to stay focused on the huge buck instead of shooting the 5x5. As I was belly-crawling past the 5x5, I looked down and couldn’t believe my eyes. An Indian arrowhead lay in perfect shape on top of the sand – what an omen!

As the creek began to twist, I spotted some does. I knew the monster had to be close, and sure enough he was. A staring contest began between the monster and me as I dropped my pack and readied my bow. Sitting in the middle of the sand bed, I was completely exposed as a small spike buck that looked like Elliot from the movie Open Season walked within 15 yards of me. He gave me a curious stare, decided I wasn’t a threat, and walked off.

Patrick Halde

For a full account of Patrick's adventure, go to page 30 in the May/June 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.