February/March 2013 EHJ (Issue 135) - In 2009, I was lucky enough to draw a mountain goat tag in Colorado. While hunting and scouting for mountain goats, I had seen some really nice bucks in the high country. After seeing so many bucks, I made up my mind that I wanted to start applying for the high-country mule deer tag in this unit. A few years passed and I finally drew the tag this past fall, along with my good friend, Jarrod Nay.
All we could talk about was scouting all summer and dreaming of finding huge mulies in the high country, but after a couple horseback trips and some backpacking, we weren’t able to find a buck that we were wanting to burn the preference points on, so we both decided to turn the tags back in to the Division of Wildlife to get our points back.
After turning the tag in there was a little bit of disappointment in that we weren’t able to find a big buck. I thought my 2012 deer hunt was over and I would have to wait another year before I could have a chance to hunt a deer, but lucky for me a local outfitter and good friend, Rocky Pappas of Nine Mile Guest Ranch, who I have helped guide hunters for several years, was nice enough to give me a private land only deer voucher for the third rifle season. After getting the tag I was so excited because I had gotten permission from a very good friend of mine on a small piece of property where I stumbled across the biggest buck I had ever seen in my life while elk hunting with Jarrod two years ago.
We only saw the buck for a few minutes and could tell that it was very wide with lots of trash - we couldn’t believe what we were seeing and then the buck disappeared into the oak brush with some does and we never saw him again. We had both said that we wished we could have gotten a photo of the buck because nobody would believe us about the size of this deer. Since we had a tag for that area and in the third season, all I could think about was that buck and wonder if he had survived the winters, predators and the other hunters that were in the area.
After guiding all fall and the first five days of third season, I had a few days left before it ended to go and look for the huge buck we had seen two years before. I had gone out a couple times by myself and I couldn’t see any deer, let alone find a good buck. I had looked all around the same area where we had seen the buck before but came up dry. The next trip out, Jarrod and his four-yearold daughter, Ava, were with me. We had spent most of the morning looking the area over from high points and finally found a few deer - a handfull of does and a couple small bucks, but nothing I wanted to take. Just before heading home I told Jarrod we should go to the exact spot where we had seen the big buck before. It was a small hidden pocket in the thick oak brush with tall grass and sage.
For a full account of Cory's adventure, go to page 26 in the February/March 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.