Idaho, 2008, DIY, Public Land
For me, like many serious hunters, the next season starts as soon as my last animal is tagged. Planning, dreaming, and wishing all off-season, I also train as hard as I can to be in top shape.
Last year I had wonderful success, taking a 26-inch mule deer and a 330 archery bull. In order to top that, I knew I would have to work harder and hunt smarter than I ever had. I needed to keep my hunting skills growing and evolving to harvest these evasive trophies on public land. I was hunting an area in Idaho that I hadn’t been to since 1996. That year I had taken a massive buck that scored 182 B&C. My goal was to take a buck that would rival my first deer from that same area.
I hit it hard for a week without much luck, so I decided to venture out to a new spot. The seventh day of my hunt found me in a new area. I glassed the deep canyons and burn-scarred timber patches without much luck, other than a few small four-points. I made my way down into a large clearcut bowl that looked prime for a large buck. I arrived at 10 a.m. and began to glass the thick, brushy hillside. I quickly spotted 30 head of elk bedded in the center of the clearcut and a nice 4x3 buck searching for does.
As I was examining a unique 5x6 bull, I heard some leaves crackling behind me. I turned, and to my amazement, three does and a nice buck were feeding on the ridge only 150 yards away. I could see the buck was tall and heavy, but he was very narrow and I wasn’t sure what kind of tine length he had. I had set my minimum at 180 B&C and didn’t want to take something that would disappoint me.
I waited patiently for him to turn his head, and he finally took a few steps forward and revealed his deep forks and bladed points. I shifted from my spotting scope to my Savage Model 110 chambered in .270 WSM that was already resting on its bipod, ready for a shot. I picked up the buck in my scope, but he had moved behind some brush as his instincts started to overpower his desire for the does.
I skirted down the bench to get an angle through the brush, but as soon as I did, he took two bounds and was over the ridge and gone. I took off after him while the does stared at me in amazement as I ran within 25 yards of them. They finally scattered.
The buck first ran to the south, which would have put him out in the open, and I figured he would doubleback to the north into the thick brush of the clearcut. I made my way through gaps in the brush and after a few minutes heard crashing. I spotted him trotting 150 yards ahead and took an ill-advised shot. The buck bailed off unscathed into a brush patch where the vegetation was over ten feet tall and as thick as could be. I knew that there was no chance of being able to still-hunt him after that, so I returned to gather my things.
For a full account of Troy's adventure, go to page 18 in the December/January 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.