July/August 2012 EBJ (Issue 72) - Hunting, in my eyes, has always been about the memories, the anticipation and the excitement of the unknown. Each year begins with honing my skills, improving my physical and mental abilities and anticipating, waiting, sometimes even loathing the offseason. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about the upcoming events, traversing high country ridges above 12,000 feet, seeking out mature, high-country mulies in some of the most grand country the world offers. A friend once asked me why I push the physical limits of my body to chase deer around. It seemed like an obvious question to me, but I didn’t hesitate to respond with, "It’s in my blood.” I cannot comprehend living any other way, now that I have discovered this amazing pursuit! I know most all of you understand what I mean and this is where our particular adventure begins.
Far off the beaten path, we set up camp in a secluded basin as the sun was setting. Each of us wondering what might inhabit the ribbon cliffs and rimrock surrounding the adjacent willow basins to the north and south of our location. Opening day of archery season found my good friend, Matt, and I at 12,500 feet staring down my spotting scope locked onto a stud of a mule deer. He was every bit a 30-inch typical that would net 200 inches plus. A bowhunter’s dream buck and certainly the buck I would spend my entire hunt pursuing.
That afternoon found us in a standoff after an eight-hour stalk. With no more cover and 98 yards away from the bedded bucks, all we could do was wait. About an hour later a severe thunderstorm came crashing through the pass and swirled the wind kicking them out of the basin. I feared the worst. Thoughts of the bucks not returning were prevalent in my mind at camp that night as I chomped down the last of my beef stroganoff. The big typical had a running mate that would make any deer hunter get itchy, as he was a 6x5 that was easily in the 190-class with an awesome boxy frame. With the maturity of these deer, I figured they’d be long gone without a trace. One factor that I knew from past experience though is that big bucks like the spot they choose to summer in and they typically stick to it if not bumped too hard. Slipping into my bag that evening, my hopes were still high and optimistic for the next day.
As the morning sun crested the 13,700-foot peaks surrounding us, I was excited to see him and his non-typical friend along with a 160-class buck heading up the rear. He was back and headed to his bed just as the day before. What more could a lucky bowhunter ask for? Once bedded and still 4,000 yards away, we began an extremely steep and long, class-two traverse way above the willows atop a shale slide that took us to the base of some high cliffs where the bucks had bedded.
For a full account of Marlon's adventure, go to page 28 in the July/August 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.