Beauty and the Beast

By Duane and Lori Darbin
Idaho, 2011, DIY, Public Land

Duane and Lori Darbin - Beauty and the BeastOctober/November 2012 EHJ (Issue 133) - When I got the phone call that my father-in-law, Duane, drew a lateseason deer tag in one of my favorite areas the excitement was pumping through me like it was opening day. When he told me that my mother-in-law also drew and she had a chance at her very first mule deer in a trophy area, I was in disbelief. Duane and I started planning from that day forward. There is a general hunt in October, which makes it very difficult to scout because the deer are pushed around quite a bit and usually aren’t in their normal areas when November hits. We didn’t stress too much about scouting though because we were going to be hunting during the peak of the rut and we knew the big boys would show up sooner or later.

We did make a trip up to the area we decided to focus on two weeks after the general season closed just to see what kind of bucks were there. I don’t know if any one hunted this area during general season or not, but we were pleasantly surprised; there were deer everywhere. The amount of does in the area got us pumped up because we knew the bucks would be in the area sniffing around on opening day. While glassing, Duane spotted a coyote trotting across the hillside about 400 yards out. I scrambled to get the rifle out set up while he kept an eye out on the dog.

When I finally got on the coyote he was sitting there looking at us, which gave me time to range him. 397 I told Duane. He said, "better aim a bit high.” Being a bowhunter, ranges like that seem impossible to me, but I held high and squeezed the trigger. Miss! The coyote ran a few yards and sat back down. I held a touch higher and fired again. I lost the coyote with the recoil of the rifle and wasn’t sure if I even hit it.

As we scanned the hillside I caught some movement on the next hillside over about 800 yards out. Once I realized what it was, I was speechless. I scrambled to get my spotting scope and by the time I got on the deer he was over a 1000 yards sneaking away at a pretty good pace. The deer stopped for about 30 seconds to look back; he was an absolute giant…very wide and symmetrical with an inline between his G2 and G3. Duane and I both got a good look at him before he disappeared into the deep draw below. We probably wouldn’t have seen that buck if we didn’t see and shoot at the coyote. We decided to back out of the area and leave the deer alone until opening day. That buck and the amount of deer we found made the next two weeks almost unbearable. Hopes were high as we got the rest of our gear together and made final plans.

Opening morning was very uneventful. The extreme cold and high winds had the deer tucked tight into the deep canyons and bedded in the thick sagebrush. Along with Duane and myself was my good friend, Brody. The three of us glassed for hours, changing vantage points as the day went on, hoping to find that wise old mule deer bedded in the steep canyon below.

Duane and Lori Darbin - Beauty and the Beast

For a full account of Duane and Lori's adventure, go to page 38 in the October/November 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.