February/March 2013 EHJ (Issue 135) - When I walked up to my buck, all I could do was stand there, smile and shake my head. I had just accomplished a goal I never really remember setting for myself. Somewhere in the back of my mind, that goal was there. The sense of accomplishment was unreal! I had dreamed about a buck like this for most of my life.
For as long as I can remember, I scraped up every leftover hunting magazine I could find. From Fur, Fish & Game to Outdoor Life, I read them all from front to back, over and over again. I was always especially in awe of the stories of big, gnarly bucks and the steep rugged mountains and intriguing high deserts they call home. I tagged along with my brother (my elder by four years) on every trapping, hunting and fishing adventure he went on. At the age of eight, I was along with him when he got his first deer (a small four-point). That was all she wrote. I was hooked and flat-out addicted!
I was lucky to be raised in a home where most of our family vacations were spent on elk and deer hunts. That said, the chance of me killing a true bruiser like the ones I read about were pretty slim. We were taught that the meat from the animals we hunted was the first priority. My dad took pride in teaching us how to properly field dress, skin, butcher and package all our own game. With six kids in the family, we packed a lot of meat in the freezer each fall. We were meat hunters first, with big antlers being a nice bonus. Top this off with the desire of a young hunter to be successful, and most of the time my tag was filled on the first legal deer I saw. I always enjoyed each hunt and was proud of every buck I tagged. I was happy just to be out hunting, but the dream of tagging a monster buck was always there tucked away in the back of my mind.
That dream became the fuel for my obsession. As I started connecting on big bucks more often, I was driven to hunt, and began branching out and hunting different units in my home state of Oregon. Eventually, I added more states as time and money allowed. Each hunt, being a great experience and a natural high, was somewhat like a temporary fix to an addiction. My passion for hunting became so strong that I began spending day after day researching, reading and studying everything available (like Eastman’s MRS) to figure out how to draw as many quality public land DIY tags a year as possible.
Over the years I developed a strategy. It’s pretty simple really. I figure if I hunt a good unit almost every year, I should be able to tag a great deer as often as the guy who waits 10 to 15 years for a great unit. I’m not sure if that theory is correct, but any day hunting is a good day, and this strategy lets me hunt a lot. Plus, I get the benefit of a freezer full of great meat every year. I love reading and hearing about other people’s adventures and sure, I still put in for trophy and once-ina- lifetime hunts, but the way I see it is I’d rather be out hunting myself, if possible.
For a full account of Robert's adventure, go to page 30 in the February/March 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.