A Buck Named Digger

By Candice Smith
Idaho, 2011, DIY, Private Land

Candice Smith - A Buck Named DiggerOctober/November 2012 EHJ (Issue 133) - It was in the middle of July when I joined my husband, Dallas, and our three boys for a routine family-scouting trip. We were glassing for mule deer when something else caught my eye. Standing 25 yards in front of our vehicle stood this antelope. His massive and unique diggers left me speechless. I looked at him, took another glance and said, "Dallas…I would really like to hunt that antelope!”

It was the longest summer of my life waiting for the season to roll around. My biggest worry was that he would broom his prongs off digging in the dirt. It was not uncommon for our family to "check” on him during our scouting trips. It was a relief each time we glassed him to see that his diggers were still intact. In fact, it was his awesome prongs that earned him his name, "Digger.” Word started to spread amongst a few farmers who had seen him. Luckily, he did not appeal to any of the rural farmers. At that point, I had no idea how he would score; I really did not care. All I knew was that he was so incredibly unique that I had my heart set on him and only him.

I did not sleep at all the night before the hunt opened. I was beginning to wonder if I should have scouted another antelope as a backup just in case something went astray while hunting Digger. I had put all my eggs in one basket and it wasn’t sitting well with my subconscious. I was obsessed with this antelopes’ prongs but would this obsession lead to total disappointment?

Dallas and I set off at sunrise. We were able to spot him standing below his does, who were lying down on a side hill. We slowly worked our way through a slew trying to get a little closer. We were in a tricky location as the field had a slight hill in it and we were unable to see him. We continued to walk further so we could stop and glass behind some tall grass. We stopped for 10 minutes, all the while watching him. He looked nervous as he kept looking to the south. He had no clue that we were within 600 yards because something else was bothering him. Just as we were getting ready to creep a little further, he paused, stiffened and then took off sprinting across the field with dust was flying beneath his hooves.

Dallas quickly spotted another smaller buck antelope that was heading north towards Digger and his does. Digger quickly veered him away to protect his does from this buck. We held tight for a few minutes in hopes that he would soon return to his does after he finished chasing away the potential competition. Two hours passed and we were having no success getting on him. Just as we would get situated, Digger would take off chasing another buck away. We tried several times to move in close, but each time he would take off chasing his rivals. At one point we counted four different bucks who were trying to move in on his does. He was completely preoccupied with keeping his does together and running off the other bucks. Every time this happened, he would run at least a half of a mile, then he would run back to his herd. This routine lasted a few hours. Soon we realized that this was going to be a never-ending chase so we decided to stop hunting and ease out of the area. Dallas and I decided that we would officially call it a morning and both agreed that we would try again later that afternoon.

During our wait for the return of the antelope hunt, we went and collected our boys from my parent’s place. Idaho was hosting an early youth duck hunt and our oldest son, Trey, had officially completed and passed hunter’s safety and he was very eager to go on his first duck hunt. Since I knew we still had a few hours before we would attempt to get on Digger again, I decided to take Trey to hunt ducks. Everything was picture perfect. He quickly spotted some ducks on a pond and successfully took his first duck. I can remember thinking to myself, My ten-year-old son makes this look so easy!

Candice Smith - A Buck Named Digger

For a full account of Candice's adventure, go to page 54 in the October/November 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.