Lost and Found

By Duane Purcell
Colorado, 2010, DIY, Public Land

Duane Purcell - Lost and FoundDecember/January 2012 EHJ (Issue 128) - After waiting nine years, it finally happened. I drew the high country deer tag I’d been waiting for. I will admit, I’m more of an elk hunter, but after a third season deer hunt with my father and brother in-law last year, I wanted to get a big mulie on the wall. During that hunt, they both were able to take 24” bucks and I thought they were huge and couldn’t wait for my chance.

When I pulled up the draw results, I immediately called my dad. It felt like I just drew a sheep tag or won the lottery, so to speak. Dad and I started planning out scouting trips and what gear we needed to pick up for the hunt. This wasn’t going to be an easy hunt by any means, as it’s just like a sheep hunt - located above timber line, with very steep mountains and cliffs. For anyone who loves the mountains, it’s like being on top of the world.

On the second scouting trip, we found what appeared to be a very nice buck - dad guessed him to be about 26”. I thought he was huge but dad said, "I think we can do better.” Over the next two months, we went everywhere and anywhere we thought we would see big bucks. I was able to go to many places that I’d only heard about from my dad and let me tell you, these were not easy to get to. As the weeks grew closer to the hunt, I began to worry a little. What if we couldn’t find a bigger buck than the first one? Would we still be able to find the first buck if we didn’t find anything bigger? It was about mid-August and we found another real nice 26”-28” buck along with another buck that would go at least 28”. He didn’t really have great forks, but would still be a trophy in any hunter’s eyes. I mentioned to dad that we needed to go back and check on the first buck we found.

The very last weekend we had to scout, we backpacked in the four miles to camp and then an additional two miles to where we saw him a month ago. When we got there, we saw two bucks in the back corner of the bowl. Now, we were 2,000 yards away and couldn’t tell how big these bucks were, but we could see they had decent racks - we pulled out the spotting scopes to take a closer look at them. One was facing us and looked to be 26” or so and the other was the buck we saw the month prior. He was darker in color with a great big body and decent forks from what we could tell. Dad and I were both keyed on him waiting for him to turn and give us a full head on look so we could see if he grew or not. He finally gave us a full on look and our jaws about hit the dirt. "He’s huge dad, looks like he’ll go 30,” I said. He looked like an elk mixed in with the other bucks. We watched and watched him the remainder of the day.

Duane Purcell - Lost and Found

For a full account of Duane's adventure, go to page 36 in the December/January 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.