Second Choice & Second Chances

By Ryan Hart
Arizona, DIY, Public Land

Ryan Hart - Second Choice and Second ChancesDecember/January 2014 EHJ (Issue 140) - I noticed my credit card had been hit with two charges by the Game and Fish. I don’t have to explain this feeling to anyone who puts in for trophy hunts in AZ. All I’ll say is I had a bunch of jealous friends. With an early archery elk tag and an antelope tag, life does not get any better!

If you can believe there is a bad part to this happening, both of these tags were my second choice, so I was a little bummed I did not get my top units. Second, these hunts overlapped and my dad had the same archery elk hunt. It was going to be tough to scout for both and possibly not be able to go elk hunting opening morning.

When I was filling out my applications for the fall hunts I knew what unit I wanted for my first choice. My second choice was a little tougher but I chose a muzzleloader unit with only five tags. I knew of some friends that had hunted the unit and found some good bucks in years past. We also have a family friend with a ranch that usually holds a few bucks.

I mailed in the application and waited. I was 99.9% sure I would draw my first choice with 20 points. I was 100% wrong. People thought I was crazy "wasting” 20 points on the second-choice unit I drew.

My dad, our neighbor Zeke and I scouted almost every day to find any antelope buck that would be worthy of 20 years worth of points. We saw plenty of bucks but none that were very impressive. We found a big buck on Sunday and I had to leave to go back to work. All I could think about was that last time I saw him and how thick his horns looked. My dad went out almost every day for the week prior to the hunt and look for this guy but never saw him. I started to worry.

Opening morning came and as we arrived at our spot, there was another truck there with two hunters. We had seen one other person scouting in the last two months and now two hunters were in our spot.

We drove past them and I got out at a different location where the herd was the first time we saw them. I slowly worked my way up a hill and through the rocks, setting up over the meadow where we’d seen them previously. My dad worked back the other way to see if he could find the herd.

As I got set up and the sun started to rise I spotted the buck headed up the side of the mesa on the complete opposite end. There was no way I could cut him off. Right behind him was one of the other hunters trying to catch up to him. He only managed to push him farther away.

Ryan Hart - Second Choice and Second Chances

For a full account of Ryan's adventure, go to page 22 in the December/January 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.