The Buck of a Thousand Lifetimes

By Kyle Lopez

Kyle LopezKyle Lopez
Colorado, 2007, DIY, public land

Darn it, I didn't get my first choice tag for our ranch. But after a few weeks I found out my uncle and I had drawn tags for an area my dad drives by on his way to and from work every day. He had been telling me about the monster bucks he had been seeing. There was only one problem; we had to wait until the third rifle season.

My dad had been scouting all summer and had seen many nice deer. Some of the deer he had scouted were 30-plus inch bucks, including one non-typical that looked like a monster. Dad scouted deer all summer long and up until two weeks before the season. As the season got closer, he started seeing fewer deer. The day before the opener, he didn't seen any at all.

“Beep, Beep, Beep!!” The alarm went off - my hunting season had finally arrived. I rolled over to my nightstand and silenced the alarm. Then I jumped out of my bed. To no surprise, my dad was already up and ready, along with my uncle. I grabbed some breakfast and began to get ready. I had to make sure I had all my gear; my rifle, knife, camo and, of course, my orange. After I had eaten breakfast and gotten my gear, we were ready. I ran out to the truck and we were off. It took about 35 minutes, in the dark, to get to our hunting area.

We had decided not to go to Dad’s “honey hole” until later. So, we chose to go to a more popular area to see how many hunters were out in the unit. By the end of the day, I was empty-handed. But my uncle hammered a great buck, which Dad green scored at 194”. It was the first animal with horns my uncle had killed.

We hunted hard the next day, including a trip into the “honey hole.” I missed a great buck, but again came home empty-handed.

The next morning I got up and went to school, still feeling frustrated and thinking about the buck I had missed. I was not able to hunt the next evening because I had to stay after school to turn in football gear. That turned out to be even a more frustrating day. I just kept thinking about the one that had gotten away.

We had another fruitless hunt one evening. But then Dad and I were both able to take off early one day. Dad said he had a gut feeling that it would be our lucky hunt. So we made it to our “honey hole” and sure enough, we did exactly what he had planned. In no time we quickly and quietly maneuvered our way up the drainage though the tangled mazes of burned timber to the base of the mountain.

It was a good three mile hike. As we started to top out at the head of the drainage, the hillsides began to become more visible. Dad paused for a moment, and pulled up his glasses to look ahead, while we still had the cover of the drainage. He quietly whispered that there were two young does up ahead. I looked at them through my binoculars to make sure they were does. I just couldn't draw horns on any of them. So we snuck around to their left. As we did, the does spotted us. We paused for a moment to see what they were going to do. The excitement was starting to build. Just the sight of those deer and how close we were to them made it feel as if we had stepped into their bedroom.

That was the moment we started to get luck on our side. The does curiously started walking toward us. As we held our position, I could only wonder what was going to happen next. Would the does finally realize what we were and blow out of the country, taking everything with them? Or would we be able to trick them and slip past to continue our quest for a buck? They paused about 50 yards from us and discovered that we weren’t more deer and quietly trotted off. They left in the direction that they had come from, which worked in our favor. Dad’s plan was to go away from them and toward a steep hillside that had lush, green vegetation on it.

As we turned to start into the direction of the hillside, Dad stopped and looked ahead again. He said, “Kyle, there is a good buck looking at us.” As Dad was looking through his glasses he told me it was definitely a buck that we should take. Dad was standing next to a burnt tree, as he stepped around it he told me to rest my rifle against the side of the tree to take the shot. As I got my first look at the buck through the scope the buck appeared to be just what Dad had said. He was facing us, looking in our direction with an intense stare.

I steadied my breathing, let out my breath and squeezed the trigger-POW! That buck jumped a mile high as the shot went off. As he turned in mid air and did the “old bulldozer”, as my dad calls it. He collapsed out of sight. Dad exclaimed, “You got him Kyle, good job!”

We hugged as Dad’s gut feeling of me getting one that evening came true. We gave the buck a little bit (what seemed like hours) of time before we went to find him. As I collected myself I was so excited. The adrenaline was flowing. Dad told me to get another round ready as we took off to go see him. When we arrived at the spot where we last saw the buck standing, we immediately found blood and tracked him about 50 feet. He was in a small ditch. As we were approaching him it looked like he had fallen into an old dead bush. My dad made it to the buck first. He told me to get my gun ready. My heart was pumping. I could see the grey color of his body as dad picked up a rock and tossed it toward the buck's belly. As the rock hit and bounced off the buck's body Dad said, “He’s done, Kyle.”

That is when my luck took an enormous turn for the better. As I was securing my rifle, I heard my dad say, “Oh my God”. He just kept saying, “Oh my God, Oh my God,” over and over. Neither one of us was prepared for what we found lying at our feet. We assumed I had shot a good buck, but never in our wildest dreams thought it was that tremendous. As I stood next to my Dad, looking at the buck, there were so many points coming off his antlers, it looked as if the bush that he had fallen into had overtaken him. His horns were heavy; it seemed as if there were hundreds of points going in all different directions. From that point on, there would be no words to describe the buck - at least not any that anyone would believe without seeing it with their own eyes. Dad gave me a big hug. We had several high fives. There is just no way to explain the excitement and emotion over what we were looking at.

Then our work began. We dressed the buck out and got him ready to go. We still had a three mile hike out to the truck. We started off on top of a ridge but soon the ridge died out and we bailed off into a nasty drainage. The drainage was littered with many deadfalls of burnt timber arranged in a tangled mess. Light was beginning to fade and we would drag the buck a hundred yards at a time. Then we would have to stop to clear out another hundred yards.

I had shot the deer around 4:30 p.m. and we didn’t get back to the truck until 7:30 p.m. As we got the deer to the back of the pickup we looked up and saw a car traveling down the road toward us. The vehicle slowed because my dad had his parking lights on. The people inside the vehicle asked if we were alright. Boy if they only knew - we were overjoyed. Dad told them we were fine and that I had just harvested a buck and we were loading him into the pickup. The buck’s massive horns didn’t go unnoticed; they asked if they could take a photo. They were amazed at what an awesome trophy it was. They asked dad for our email address and they would send us the photos that they had taken. They congratulated me on my harvest and drove away.

As we climbed into the truck to head home, there was one more hug from Dad, congratulating me and telling me how proud he was. He was telling me what a great experience it was. As we drove up the hill I could hardly wait to call my mom and my brothers. As I was explaining the many points on my buck to my mother, she seemed amazed in disbelief and was wondering if I was multiplying the points. As we got into town, we stopped by several friends’ houses to show them the great buck. Everyone that we stopped to show was simply amazed. Everyone told me that it was truly a deer of a lifetime, but I think it’s truly a deer of a thousand lifetimes.

When we started out on the hunt, it was our goal to take good bucks for my uncle and me. I would like to thank my Dad; he is not only an awesome dad but a tremendous guide. I could not have done it without him. The scouting he did while going to and from work and his knowledge of hunting played a big part in my success. My dad has many sayings - as I thanked him for being such a great guide he said, “I would rather be lucky than good any day.”

The buck was green scored at our home in Divide, Colorado by Roger Selner of Eastman’s Trophy Buck Tour. The buck has a gross score of 307 7/8” and a net score of 303 5/8’, non-typical B&C. The buck’s main frame is gross score 207 0/8” net 202 6/8”. Number of points on right antler-20. Number of points of left antler-16. Tip to tip spread-21 4/8”. Greatest spread-37 2/8”. Inside spread-22 0/8”. 100 7/8” in abnormal points.

Kyle’s buck was taken on Nov 7, 2007. On Jan 7, 2008 the 60 day drying period for scoring was up. That just happens to be his birthday!

Wildlife Recapture out of Libby, Montana will be doing the taxidermy work on Kyle’s buck. This amazing buck is scheduled to go on tour in 2009 with Eastmans’ Trophy Deer Display.

About the Author:

Kyle, 14, is a freshmen at Woodland Park High School. He lives in Divide, Colorado.

Kyle's Equipment:

Rifle: Browning A Bolt .270 WSM with synthetic stock, Leupold Rifleman 3-9X40 scope and Sims slip-on recoil pad.
Ammo: Federal Premium 140 grain Nosler AccuBond.
Optics: Nikon 8X40 binoculars (Kyle), Nikon 10X40 binoculars (Dad). Bushnell Laser rangefinder 400.
Binosock and Binostraps: Crooked Horn Outfitters.
Knife set: Outdoor Edge Kodi-Pac.
Pack: Crooked Horn Outfitters Guide Backpack.
Clothing: Realtree Advantage Timber, Under Armour Cold Weather Gear, Cabela's Meindels Boots (Dad), Herman Boots (Kyle), Woolrich Coat.