August/September 2011 EHJ (Issue 126) - Long ago, I begrudgingly accepted the fact that I’m one of those guys in Idaho who simply doesn’t draw a deer tag. Statistically speaking, I should have drawn this tag a couple of times over already, but yet again I came up empty-handed. But as luck would have it, the great state of Idaho has a "second chance” drawing for those leftover tags not picked up after the first drawing. Being a glutton for punishment, I put in, expecting to get two rejections for 2010. After all, if I couldn’t draw it with "good odds”, what were my chances with horrific odds on the second go-around? Well, you guessed it – I drew the tag.
It’s fairly short notice since the drawing is in late August, but luckily for me, it’s a unit I had spent some time in and knew fairly well. I would be hunting completely solo in some very steep and wild country; I knew I would have my work cut out for me.
With my wife heading out of the country with the kids to celebrate my fatherin- law’s birthday, I decided to seize the opportunity and head to my hunting area a couple of days prior to the season and do some hardcore scouting. My scouting plan was to hike into some hard-toaccess country as far as possible and glass anything and everything I could to see if I could locate a good buck for my opening day hunt.
Unfortunately, my first day of scouting didn’t go well, as I ran into more people than expected. I did eventually locate an area that held a few bucks in it - mostly younger bucks - but it was an area that certainly held some promise, even if it was quite a ways down in elevation.
The second full day I had for scouting was the day before opening day and hunters began to show up in droves. Since I hadn’t yet located the "big one”, I planned my opening day hunt more on where I felt I would be able to hunt without running into a lot of other people, yet still have a good chance to run into a nice buck.
Opening morning found me far off the beaten path and far down into a canyon. I had walked in the dark using my headlamp, and as the light began to highlight the terrain, I set up to glass some great-looking sagebrush areas. I spent a couple hours glassing and slowly walking through the bunchgrass, encountering a few smaller bucks not worth the effort considering my location.
I decided to look over some new terrain, so after an hour of hiking straight uphill, I had a bit of lunch and began following an old horse trail. This gave me some awesome views of my hunt area. The view went for miles across some amazing country. As I hiked along the trail, I almost forgot I was deer hunting. Almost.
About a mile into the hike, I could see a steep north-facing hillside that had burned a few years back. The fire had scorched all of the trees, leaving only their charred remains. In the few years since, the new growth had really come on strong and created some really thick cover.
For a full account of Derek's adventure, go to page 30 in the August/September 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.