One For Pops

By Mike Demming
Dave Holm, Colorado, 2010, DIY, Public Land
80x2June/July 2011 EHJ (Issue 125) - Almost all of us have someone that they look up to and should thank for showing them the ways of the outdoors. Missing a father in my life, my uncle stepped in to help mold me as a child and a young man. His oldest son, Troy, and I spent almost every day of our childhood together and Dave quickly became my father figure and held the title of “Pops”.

Although Troy is my cousin, we are truly brothers. We grew up chasing rabbits and other small game, but big game was always what excited us the most and Pops made sure we got to see plenty of action. We were never much for trophy hunting, and even though we grew up in Colorado with some of the greatest genetics in the world, we followed Pops’ lead in making sure we filled tags with tasty venison and enjoying the outdoors as a family.

I would find out later that filling tags consistently with trophy bucks did require some luck, but it also required much different tactics than we had employed over the years. We consistently walked harder and farther than anyone else, but we seemed to always see that infamous white butt, with its monster rack sneaking over the hill and out of range. We occasionally heard the shots of other hunters, only to find that we had moved “Mr. Big” out of his hideyhole and driven him into harm’s way for another lucky hunter.

After graduation, Troy and I went on to build careers and families, and making it home to hunt with Pops fell way back on our list of priorities. I had become very focused on trophy hunting, talking to everyone I could who had harvested trophy deer and elk in my areas of my interest. I tried to learn everything I could about the habits of trophy animals and what it would take to get a few of my own.

The valuable lessons that Pops taught me about trophy hunting were that “you can’t be afraid of going home emptyhanded” and “if you shoot a small animal, you won’t ever be able to shoot a big one”. I lived by these rules for many years and ultimately harvested numerous trophy deer and elk that Pops would have loved to put his tag on. I felt that I was starting to mature as a hunter, but I wanted Pops to feel the excitement as well.

With Pops retiring and having a lot of time on his hands, I knew that we could get our schedules to work together for some fall hunts again. I wanted to make sure that we could get him one of those monster mulies he had always dreamed about.

He had used all of his points in 2005, so having only four points for the 2010 draw didn’t leave us many options for premium units, but we wanted to hunt in the unit that would provide us with the best opportunity. After pouring over past unit history, talking to biologists, landowners and reviewing maps, we settled on a second-season tag in western Colorado.

I made several scouting trips during the summer to see what I could find for quality bucks. By the end of the last scouting trip, I was very concerned and I knew that we were going to have a tough hunt. Oil and gas exploration in the area had made for a new road on every ridge and in every canyon. You truly couldn’t get away from people, which normally isn’t a recipe for finding big bucks.

Dave Holm

For a full account of Todd's adventure, go to page 40 in the June/July 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.