Big Red

By Bryant Dunn
Colorado, 2010, DIY, Public Land
Big RedFeb/Mar 2011 EHJ (Issue 123) - It was with great sadness that I returned my 2007 Colorado mule deer tag to the Colorado DOW after four years of accumulating preference points. My mother’s untimely passing was both unexpected and tragic. As a result, I was unable to make the trip from my home state of Idaho to the mule deer mecca 600 miles to the south.

Fortunately, three years later, I was able to draw again and this time nothing stood in the way of the trip I had looked forward to for so long. Never having hunted in Colorado, I read every story I could find, all of which recounted the majesty of the region and its propensity for producing world-class mulies. By the time I departed, the stack of Eastmans’ hunting magazines in my living room was worn from repetitive reading.

My good friend, Matt Christian, had invited me to stay at his family’s cabin if I drew and offered to help me in the landscape he had hunted since childhood. From his family’s small parcel, public land stretched to the horizon in every direction. As a mule deer and elk outfitter in Idaho, I was excited to experience the other end of the spectrum for a change. As it turned out, this was to be an extremely fortuitous invitation.

Upon arriving at the remote cabin some 7,000 feet above sea level, I relished in the natural beauty of my mountainous surroundings. Twelve hours of driving and a 2:30 a.m. wakeup didn’t keep either of us from setting up our spotting scopes within minutes of our arrival. A beautiful four-point fed unconcerned 600 yards from the front porch and our anticipation of opening morning was instantly ignited.

“Nice buck,” I said to Matt, “but it’s going to take more than that to get me to pull the trigger on this hunt. I’ve waited far too long.”

“Don’t worry,” Matt replied. “We can do better than that.”

The following morning began as so many opening mornings do - with that sense of anticipation mixed with a steady stream of adrenaline to which all hunters can relate. As we set out into the dark Colorado morning air, the stars shone brightly overhead and Orion the Hunter looked down upon us. I took it as a blessing that the hunter’s constellation was positioned directly above our path into the blackness.

Although we glassed three dozen deer the first day, we were unable to find any bucks that would reach my admittedly high standards, and since we had scheduled six days of hunting, I was unconcerned. We heard the gunfire of several other hunters who had settled crosshairs on unseen, distant trophies and were encouraged with each booming report.

Bryant Dunn

For a full account of Bryant's adventure, go to page 24 in the February/March 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.