Sweet 16

By Jaden Russell
Utah, DIY, Public Land

Jaden Russell - Sweet 16November/December 2012 EBJ (Issue 74) - It was about 5:00 a.m. and I was not going to waste any time getting into position on opening day of the Utah archery season.

The cool, crisp August air was a little chilly as my dad and I rode our four-wheelers up the trail. Before long, we found ourselves on top of a familiar ridge. As the sun began to rise, we quickly nestled into the rock ledges and began glassing the area. In the perfect position, we soon noticed small movements below our location. The night before, we had spotted the solid 180 buck we had been watching for the past two months. Throughout the summer, my dad and I had been watching him and three other bucks we called "The Body Guards.” The Body Guards consisted of two nice threepointers, about 28 inches wide, and a smaller four-point. However, I had my eye on the nice 180 buck we had been patterning all summer.

Earlier that spring, while I was in my baseball conditioning class, I received a text from my dad asking me to give him a call. He said, "Guess what?” Of course I knew the draw results were coming out anytime and asked, "Did I draw?” He told me the results were out and he had finally drawn a limited-entry elk tag. Again, I pressed him for my results. He couldn’t take the excitement any longer; I had drawn a limited-entry archery tag in my home state of Utah. Along with turning 16 and getting my driver’s license, drawing a limited-entry deer tag would make this year my most memorable.

As the darkness faded away, we spotted The Body Guards feeding on the side of a small ridge about 400 yards below us. We watched them feed for about 30 minutes before spotting the big four-point. Instantly, we formulated a plan. As my dad positioned himself to spot, I started down the mountain for my first stalk of the hunt. An hour later, circling around the ridge, I found myself about 120 yards from the bucks. Doing their job, The Body Guards picked up on my movement and trotted over the next ridge. Fortunately, my dad watched the stalk unfold and saw where the bucks bedded down for the day. From previous scouting trips during the summer, we patterned the bucks and I knew exactly where they would go if they were bumped from their beds.

I set up in a natural funnel while my dad hiked down to the bucks and bumped them from their beds. About 20 minutes later I saw the tips of antlers bobbing up and down through the timber. My heart began to pound out of my chest as I drew my bow back and waited for him to give me a shot. The big four-point was the first buck through the funnel and I sent an arrow his way. After seeing dirt fly, I instantly realized my calculation on the yardage was incorrect. I watched the nice buck and The Body Guards disappear over the saddle. The rest of the weekend did not reveal the group of bucks to us again and I had to get back to my baseball games.

After what seemed like the longest week at school, the bell finally rang and I rushed home. The mule deer chase was back on! After talking with a family friend, I decided to try a different spot. He told me there were a few nice bucks in the area with no hunting pressure. We unloaded the wheelers and started up the trail slowly, stopping and glassing the side hills often. We were almost to the top of the draw when my dad spotted a nice buck. I looked at the buck for several minutes. He was a tall 3x4 and too big to pass up.

Jaden Russell - Sweet 16

For a full account of Jaden's adventure, go to page 38 in the November/December 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.