August/September 2012 EHJ (Issue 132) - 2011 had been a great year already for me, with a nice buck from central Nevada and two central Wyoming pronghorn bucks in the mid 70s. I always put a second choice in on my Colorado deer applications, but as a resident I hadn’t drawn in some years, or in some cases hadn’t used some secondchoice tags I have drawn in the past due to work scheduling or the weather didn’t cooperate.
Well, in mid to late October this year, the Colorado high country got a couple of snow storms. The northern mountains and even the winter range accumulated a foot to a foot and a half in my hunting unit, enough to prod the deer herds into moving down in elevation. Come November, they’d be at the start of the rut, I suspected.
So I was running out of excuses to not use this tag. It’s a weather-dependent area, so when the storms do hit early, I’d heard it could be dynamite. On my snowy winter drives through this area in the past, healthy numbers of deer were visible all over the big sage. Late in the final week of the 2011 season in early November, work was driving me crazy and by about Thursday, I knew Friday would be a much better choice to hunt than during the weekend. Elk hunters are plentiful there in the late season.
So Friday before daylight I headed to the area, which is mostly big sage with alternating draws and ridges, located between two large mountain ranges. There is a large walk-in only area that I planned to target first. At the first trailhead on Friday morning, there were 11 trucks, including lots of guys spotting. So I headed a couple miles to the north, which was much quieter.
I had walked a few miles from that trailhead, with a lot of elevation gain and loss, and old drifted snow in the sage making it a slow trek. I’d seen a couple dozen deer, with some small bucks, but I was seeing more down low late in the morning. I decided to circle my way into the low country back to the truck, checking a few draws closely, and then heading to another place farther north for the afternoon.
Well, on the way into one of these draws, a couple does came up towards me through a saddle in the sage out at a few hundred yards. I froze and watched carefully as one was looking over her shoulder. Sure enough, a bigbodied, swayback 3x4 was following right behind, in the rut and probably 275 pounds on the hoof. His forks were not anything to brag about though. The three of them meandered a bit, then disappeared back over the saddle.
I snuck down over the saddle and peered over the other side. Sure enough, the heavy-bodied buck was bedded only 75 yards away near the bottom of the small draw, looking away, and so at that point I just sat down in my tracks. A couple minutes later he seemed to hear me and after staring for 30 seconds, he got up and took off down the main draw to the right with the two does. I watched them head down, and I noticed there was another group of deer in their path, maybe 400 yards down the draw and near the brushy bottom.
For a full account of Doug's adventure, go to page 48 in the August/September 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.