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Feb/Mar 2011 EHJ (Issue 123) - Around June of this year, my friend, Hal Bryant, began to get a bit concerned. He really didn’t know much about the area in Colorado where he’d drawn a deer tag. He knew it had a bad winterkill recently, and that in spite of that, it was still producing world-class bucks (just not nearly as many). Hal’s son, Will, had challenged my logic of holding out for harder-todraw tag, particularly since the data in Eastmans’ Hunting Journal indicated that while having a huge buck population, it was overrated. His advice paid off in Hal getting a tag, but getting a buck to go with it in a temporarily depleted area was going to be up to Hal.
Hal has been hunting deer for 30- plus years, and trying to get a huge buck for at least 25. He’s taken some very nice bucks, but none that are in that true class of their own. For those of us that have seen one of these types of bucks, we consider a deer season successful if you just see one. The guys we hunt with are all in this category and have taken, at one time or another, a deer of this quality, and more importantly, stay current on which areas are producing big mule deer.
Hal and I have hunted deer together on and off for thirty years. When Hal called and told me what he drew, I was excited, because had I hunted that unit, and two of my close friends, Ed Frank and Jim Perry, had also hunted there. In fact, Jim took a monster buck there in the third season hunt. Ed had passed on a huge typical, holding out for a nontypical that year and didn’t score.
I agreed to accompany Hal on his hunt. Things were rapidly coming together, but many people warned him that the winterkill was as bad as it was publicized and that it would be very difficult to find the class of buck he was hoping for. While he was somewhat discouraged, his enthusiasm was still high.
Hal suggested we take time during our Utah hunt to scout for this Colorado deer hunt. During that scouting trip, we stayed at a local motel. Not only were they extremely good hosts, but one of the owners, John, was a trophy mule deer hunter and gave us an extremely good info on the area and local big deer he had seen during the summer. He even described a non-typical that he was still seeing and how we could get to it. While he too warned us of the winterkill, he was optimistic of our chances.
We arrived two days before the hunt, and Will was going to join us the night before opening day. We stayed at that same motel and John informed us that the non-typical he had seen had made it through the second season and was still in the general area he had described to us.
For a full account of Hal's adventure, go to page 28 in the February/March 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.