High Desert Hiatus

By Ron Bozarth

Ron Bozarth
Oregon, 2008, DIY, Public Land

pening morning of the 2008 eastern Oregon mule deer season wasn’t your typical day. Rain had been falling since daybreak, and only our raingear had kept my son Chris and I from having a miserable morning. We had been watching several does about 200 yards below, but so far we hadn’t seen any bucks. It was early yet, though, and the rain was starting to ease up. My son was helping me on this hunt, as he was saving his deer preference points for another area. He then motioned for me to take a look through his binoculars. The rain had stopped by now and he had been watching some deer through his Zeiss binoculars several ridges and small canyons away. In the group of four deer, we could see only white rear end patches and possibly a glint of antler. After looking through the tripod-mounted glass for several minutes, it was obvious that three of the four deer were bucks and two were worth risking a long stalk. Even if it didn’t work out, there was a lot nice country between the deer and us. This was the second year for my hunting partner Dennis Waterman and me in this area. We had scouted and hunted this country the year before and had decided it was the type of terrain we really enjoyed hunting. It had lots of heavy sagebrush, shallow draws, scattered juniper, and plenty of vantage points to glass from. It was perfect for spot and stalk hunting. That previous season in 2007 had been very productive. I had taken a nice 3x4 and Dennis had harvested his best Oregon buck. It was a dandy 180 four-point, 27 inches wide with nice eyeguards and heavy beams. As Chris and I gathered our gear, we tried to pinpoint the exact location the deer were last seen. It wasn’t easy. The country is so open that everything looks the same, and they were a long ways off. Chris thought he had looked long enough to recognize some landmarks, so we started our stalk. It was about 9:30 a.m. now, and we figured the deer would bed down soon. We hadn’t seen any other hunters, so we weren’t worried about somebody spooking them before we got there.