September/October 2012 EBJ (Issue 73) - Every spring my buddies and I set out to find those big bucks and bulls before they shed their antlers. It was the spring of 2010 when Griff Yates, Barry Johnson and I were walking back from an exhausting day of shed hunting and stumbled upon a long main beamed monster blacktail shed. It was the biggest blacktail shed that either of us had found. We hunted all over the area for a couple more hours looking for the other side. We were unsuccessful that day, but came back the next four days in a row looking for the other side. We found four other antlers but never the other side to the long main beamed buck.
After finding that shed, it had me wondering if that buck was just wintering there or if it actually lived there during hunting season. I had a rifle tag in 2010 and was determined to find the long main beamed buck. I had hunted seven days in a row with no luck and began to think that it was a buck that just wintered there. The rifle season came to an end in 2010 with no sightings of the long main beamed buck.
Shed season came around in the spring of 2011 and we were bound and determined to find the sheds to him that year. My good friend Lance Baker and I hit the mountain hard, glassing and gridding the hillsides. We shed hunted in there a total of eight days with no luck on finding the long main beamed buck’s sheds. We had put out three trail cameras with no success of catching him. We ended up coming out after eight days with 23 fresh sheds but none from the long main beamed buck we were after.
I had talked it over with Lance and official measurer Keith Hughes about how we were going to physically see this buck. We were starting to think another hunter had harvested him or he had been a winterkill possibly. After all this brainstorming with my hunting buddies I decided to get an archery deer tag in 2011. We felt that hunting him in the rut would be our best chance of seeing him. We kept the three cameras out until my hunt started. I work on a tugboat the first 15 days of every month and I checked them before going back to work with no luck of capturing the long main beam buck.
I returned to work on October 31st and couldn’t wait to get off on November 15th. When I got off work, the late season had already started so after a long and grueling 15 days at work it was finally November 15th. I couldn’t wait to get home and see my wife and head for the mountain. I got up in the morning of the 16th and headed up the mountain to glass the hillsides for the long main beamed buck. I sat in one spot until 11:00 a.m. with no luck spotting him. There was a lot of deer activity but no long beamed buck. On the second day, I got up there in the same spot overlooking three hillsides where I thought he may be lurking. There was again some deer activity at daylight; it was at about 9:00 a.m. when I spotted a very nice typical 4x4 working his way down through the oaks. For a moment my heart stopped, I thought it was him but it was a little narrower and not enough tine length to be the long main beamed buck. I was guessing the 4x4 to score around 135 inches. That buck was a wall hanger in my book, so I packed up my backpack and went down the canyon to see if I could cut him off. I got to the bottom and started up the other side and realized the wind was blowing directly up the hill. I made it about 10 more steps and heard a deer take off. All I could see was a rack running away at about 100 yards away. My hunt was over that day.
For a full account of Dusty's adventure, go to page 54 in the September/October 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.