August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - Hunting with a buddy has rewards as well as challenges. Figuring out who gets first shot can create situations that range from humorous to downright tense. My buddies and I have tried different systems. "Let’s shoot on three”. One, two… BOOM…three! Most of those situations ended with laughter. As we have become a little more focused on trophy-caliber animals, we have had to adopt the motto of "you spot it – you got it.” In other words, if you are the first to spot an animal, then you have the first crack at it.
In 2009, I was bowhunting in southern Utah with my good friend, Kelly Bingham. Kelly always hikes too fast and I was just catching my breath to complain when Kelly whispered that he saw the tail end of a nice buck right in front of us. Rather than obeying "you spot it – you got it,” I maneuvered for the shot, and when the 170-class velvet mulie came out at 37 yards, I promptly shot my arrow just under him.
Kelly was not amused. Without too many words, we split up to try hunting solo for a while. Ninety minutes later Kelly called me on the radio to joyously tell me that he had arrowed a gorgeous 5x6 buck. The lesson I learned that day is that like Karma, you will pay a price for breaking a buddy law.
In 2011, I was fortunate to hunt rutting mule deer during Colorado’s third season. Kelly had a tag as well and we planned to hunt hard for the whole nine days if needed. We were able to see a lot of awesome country and amazing amounts of elk and deer. We learned firsthand how much private property the unit contained and just how frustrating it can be to navigate and access public land. I also learned that on this trip I wasn’t as good as Kelly at "you spot it – you got it.”
By Thursday night, Kelly was up 3 to 1 on quality bucks spotted and was not easing up. I was getting a little upset at myself for not being a better spotter but I didn’t panic. For the past two months I had been telling anyone that would listen that I felt really good about 11/11/11. Not only is it a cool date, but it would also be Veteran’s Day. My younger brother Dan served our country in Iraq and I have several friends and relatives who have also served in the U.S. Military. Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, is one of the many soldiers I consider heroes. Great days in the great outdoors are made possible by great men and women who answer the call of duty. Thank you veterans, soldiers, sailors, and airmen!
In the pre-dawn hour of 11/11/11, Kelly, my brother Tyler, and I perched ourselves in a cliff that overlooked a long valley where we had located several great bucks. The first deer I could make out in my binoculars was the tall buck. "There he is,” I stage-whispered quickly.
Kelly knew I had first crack and started into guide mode. Now, if the tall buck would just cooperate by following a hot doe off the private property on which he had been camped all week. Many of my friends had told me to wait until later in the hunting week as the bucks would really start following does more closely as the rut heated up. I needed for that to happen now in order to even stand a chance.
For a full account of Todd's adventure, go to page 32 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.