February/March 2013 EHJ (Issue 135) - My 2012 hunt in the Henry Mountains was an amazing experience that I am grateful to have been involved in. Life had been rough the last couple of years and this hunt gave me a renewed hope for something great.
I was fortunate to draw the tag with only 11 points. I had heard of guys who had 17 points and didn’t draw! The day I found out that I drew the tag, I also learned that my wife and son had drawn the same weapon hunt in two different third-choice units. This had never happened before! This year’s hunt would be almost impossible to pull off! After talking it over with my wife for a couple of days, she agreed to turn her tag back in; my son’s uncle and stepdad were on deck to take him on his hunt.
I went on my first scouting trip during the first weekend of August. It was amazing to see so many huge bucks that seemed to be unaffected by our presence. Food seemed to be of most importance as they fed near the roads in the oak brush. That trip we saw over 100 bucks and many were bigger than what we had seen in our general units for many years. My dad said it was like he had died and gone to deer heaven. We were all in awe of the healthy deer herd! We recorded many deer on video and tried to pick which deer I would shoot. I went again the last week in August and checked trail cams without much luck. I decided to move them to the area where a big double-cheater buck had been seen. He was first on my list, so I hoped to see him on the trail cam. This trip was also very good for buck sightings. Because of work and other obligations, it was the end of my scouting.
A few days before the hunt started, my dad and I started the process of relocating the big bucks. The first thing I did was check the trail cams; they were both unproductive. Besides trees moving in the wind, a spike buck, and cattle, there wasn’t much to see. We were back to scouting to relocate our favorites, and this proved to be a task. We could not find any of the deer that we had seen on the previous two trips. In fact, for the first two days we could count on two hands the bucks we saw. Where had all the deer gone? I started to worry.
The next day brought a storm and that seemed to change things. We started to see lots of bucks, but still nothing that I felt was tag-worthy. That night we found a couple of bucks that had cheaters, which was right in line with what I hoped to find. The bigger one had two cheaters on both sides and his frame was about 30 inches wide, but then he turned and showed his fronts, which were very short with crabclaw forks. The opener was the next day, and I still had not found my buck.
On opening day I decided to hike through a promising area. My neighbor and hunting buddy, Neal, had just arrived, so we decided on a plan for the hike. I would hike to the area and they (my dad and Neal) would be on points in different areas to let me know what they saw and later pick me up. I was a half-hour into the hiking when I glassed a couple of bucks feeding with six does. They were right in my line of travel. I didn’t see any shooters and made the decision to go forward and spook them. I still had a lot of country to cover. I should have known there were more deer there. The ones on top were decoys for a couple bigger bucks below. I saw some extras on one side of the big buck, but could not size him up in the few seconds I had to check them out. That didn’t go as planned.
For a full account of Mike's adventure, go to page 38 in the February/March 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.